As a child he was always funny, cracking jokes whenever he could. As a student Cosby was extremely smart. However because of his extra coicular activities he had little time to study. When he learned he had to repeat the 10th grade he dropped out and enrolled into the Navy. He soon realized the importance of school and spent his 4 years in the navy earning a high school equivalency diploma through correspondence courses.
Like all super celeberties, Cosby started out small. He had gigs at small clubs and worked his way up. As word spread so did Cosby’s fame. His comedy was one of understatement, wild sound effects, a rubbery face, and far-ranging characterizations made him what he is today.
Cosby’s first TV series was I Spy. He won three Emmy Awards and began what would be his pattern of playing successful, educated blacks in a medium dominated by negative images of African Americans. I Spy left the air after three hit seasons, but Cosby returned to television in 1969 in the Bill Cosby Show as Chet Kincaid, a physical education teacher helping disadvantaged kids in a fictional Los Angeles neighborhood. The show remained on the air for two years but was not a hit.
Cosby next found success with the unlikely program Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, an animated kids show which debuted in 1972 and became a fixture on Saturday morning television. The critically acclaimed program remained in production until 1984.
Cosby’s biggest hit was the Cosby Show. As Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable, Cosby and his lawyer wife, played by Phylicia Rashad, dealt with the ups and downs of family life. The show’s humor was warm and universal. The Cosby Show had 80 million regular viewers at the height of its popularity and its ratings pulled NBC from third to first place among the networks. The Cosby Show ran for 8 years. When The Cosby Show went into syndication in 1987, Bill Cosby, as half owner of the show’s profits, became a very rich man. According to Forbes, competing independent stations doubled previous records in their bidding for the program. By 1992 total syndication for the show reached $1 billion, of which Cosby received $333 million. With all this money, Cosby and his wife, Camille, became active philanthropists. In 1988 they donated $20 million to Spelman College in Atlanta, the biggest single contribution ever made to a black college.