William Henry Cosby Jr was born in 1937 in the Mount Airy section of Germantown in Philadelphia. He attended Germantown High School but dropped out of school before he graduated to join the US Navy.
After being discharged from the Navy, Cosby – who had earned a GED diploma – attended Temple University in Philadelphia.
While at Temple, Cosby became interested in becoming an entertainer and decided to pursue a career as a comedian.
He developed a stand-up comedy act and began performing in comedy clubs around the country.
In 1964 he was asked to join the TV cast of the American version of That Was The Week That Was.
This led to his first major acting assignment in 1965 when he became one of the stars of I-Spy, alongside Robert Culp.
The show was successful and remained on the air for three years, making Cosby a star.
In his stand-up act, Cosby often talked about kids he knew when he was growing up in Philadelphia. These kids became the characters in a successful TV cartoon series which debuted in 1972, Fat Albert & The Cosby Kids.
Cosby went on to make a number of movies before starring in the television series The Cosby Show (1984). The series was successful beyond Cosby’s wildest dreams and made him a worldwide superstar, and one of the most highly paid performers on television. The show stayed on the air for eight years.
Subsequent TV outings included the revival of You Bet Your Life (1992), The Cosby Mysteries (1994), Cosby (1996) – which was an American version of the British sitcom One Foot In The Grave – and Kids Say The Darndest Things.