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Bill Cosby

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Bill Cosby is one of the United States’ most popular and admired entertainers, known for his wit and warmth both onstage and off. A veteran stand-up performer, he got his start working clubs and making comedy albums, then moved into television with a vanguard role in the 1960s action show I Spy.

In 1967 Cosby reached #4 on the Hot 100 with his single Little Ole Man. According to the Little Ole Man Songfacts, Cosby was the first really famous comedian to have a Billboard-charting single, although many novelty songs charted by performers who certainly had “comedian” on their resumés.

Cosby later starred in his own series, The Bill Cosby Show, in the early 1970s, and created the humorous educational cartoon series Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, about a group of young friends growing up in the city. Cosby also acted in numerous films, although none has received the acclaim of his television work.

During the 1980s, Cosby produced and starred in one of the decade’s defining cultural products, The Cosby Show, which aired from 1984 to 1992 and featured an upper-class African-American family without resorting to the kinds of vulgar stereotypes previously seen among African-American characters in prime-time television. While some argued that The Cosby Show ignored the issues of racial inequity still prevalent in society, many agreed that it showcased positive role models.

The late 1990s and early 2000s brought trouble for Cosby, first in early 1997 with the death of his only son, Ennis, who was shot to death on a Los Angeles freeway in a random act of violence.

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