Bill Cosby was born William Henry Cosby July 12, 1937 in Philadelphia. He is well known in a number of areas including comedian, actor, television producer, musician, educator and activist. But, through all of his endeavors, there is one consistent theme: he has played a major role in the development of a more positive portrayal of African Americans. This has been especially apparent in the most popular situation comedies in television history, The Cosby Show, where he avoided racial stereotypes.
Cosby joined the U.S. Navy in 1956, earning his high school equivalency while enlisted. In 1961, after an honorable discharge, he received an athletic scholarship to Philadelphia's Temple University. Within two years, he doing standup comedy, touring the U.S. and Canada. By 1965, he made his first appearance on The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson.
He was the first African American to perform in a standing dramatic role on network television: his first acting role was in the espionage series I Spy (1965–68). His portrayal of a black secret agent won him three Emmy Awards and helped to advance the status of African-Americans on television. He starred in other television venues including Bill Cosby Specials (1968-71 and 1975); The Bill Cosby Show (1969-71); The New Bill Cosby Show (1972–73), and Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids (1972–84, 1989); The Crosby Show (1984-92); and Cosby (1996–2000). He also appeared in numerous commercials (e.g., Jello) and on children's shows (e.g., Sesame Street and Electric Company).
Other entertainment endeavors include several feature films, comedy records (earning him eight Grammy awards), authoring a book, Fatherhood (1986), and the release of a non-profanity hip-hop album, Cosby Narratives Vol. 1: State of Emergency (2008).
He has been an advocate for education. In May 2004, after receiving an award at the celebration of the 50th Anniversary commemoration of the Brown v. Board of Education ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court's decision that outlawed school racial segregation, Cosby made public remarks critical of African Americans who put higher priorities on sports, fashion, and "acting hard" than on education, self-respect, and self-improvement, pleading for African-American families to educate their children on the many different aspects of American culture. Cosby still lectures to black communities (usually at churches) about his frustrations with certain problems prevalent in underprivileged urban communities such as taking part in illegal drugs, teenage pregnancy, Black Entertainment Television, high school dropouts, anti-intellectualism, gangsta rap, vulgarity, thievery, offensive clothing, vanity, parental alienation, single-parenting and failing to live up to the ideals of Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King, Jr. and the African-American ancestors that preceded Generation X. Cosby criticizes those African Americans who associate his ideals with race treachery.
Along with his record and television awards, other honors include being awarded a doctorate in education from the University of Massachusetts (1977) and numerous other doctorates. He was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame (1984).
Excerpts from the Internet including Wikipedia and his official site.