One of America’s most beloved comedians of all time, Bill Cosby has captivated generations of fans with his comedy routines, iconic albums and best-selling books such as Fatherhood. His comedy transcends age, gender and cultural barriers.
Cosby broke television’s racial barrier with I Spy, becoming the first African American to costar on a television series while winning three consecutive Emmys. He created and produced the Emmy-winning cartoon Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, which began airing in the 1970s and was made into a film in 2004. The show, based on Cosby’s childhood in Philadelphia, was designed to educate and entertain.
“Through humor, you can soften some of the worst blows that life delivers. And once you find laughter, no matter how painful your situation might be, you can survive it.” – Bill Cosby
The former Navy serviceman’s illustrious list of accomplishments includes roles on the children’s educational show Electric Company and creating and producing the Emmy award wining Little Bill, which is based on his best-selling book series.
Perhaps Cosby’s greatest contribution to American entertainment and culture is The Cosby Show, about a close-knit, upper middle class black family. Cosby said his intent was to portray an American family. Time magazine called the show “an encouraging sign of maturity in matters of race.” The Cosby Show dominated the No. One spot for years, earning nearly unanimous critical praise. Life magazine described the program as “a gentle, whimsical, warmhearted” show whose “delicious ordinariness of its pleasures and tribulations has given millions a fresh, laughter-splashed perspective on their own domestic lives.”
Cosby’s first television special in 30 years, Far From Finished, premiered on Comedy Central last fall. As always, Cosby crafts stories around topics such as marriage and parenting with his singular point of view and renowned sense of humor.
Cosby’s current best seller, I Didn’t Ask to Be Born, But I’m Glad I Was. Cosby talks about the Bible, being a grandfather and his first love in his humorous and insightful manner.
Cosby has received the Kennedy Center Honors, the Presidential Medal of Freedom (America’s highest civilian honor), the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor and the Marian Anderson Award.
Cosby’s been busy raising a family, too. He married the former Camille Hanks on January 25, 1964, while she was still a student at the University of Maryland. They raised four daughters (Erika, Erinn, Ensa and Evin) and one son (Ennis) and now have three grandchildren. The family resides in New England.
Dr. Cosby sat down with Hasan Minhaj, Aditi Mittal and Mpho Popps for a wide-ranging chat about the craft of comedy and his own life. In this clip, he recounts a story he was told at Robben Island, the prison where Nelson Mandela was held for 18 of his 27 years of incarceration.