Legal name: William Henry Cosby, Jr
William Henry "Bill" Cosby, Jr. (born July 12, 1937) is an American stand-up comedian, actor, and author.
Cosby's start in stand-up comedy began at the hungry i in San Francisco, followed by landing a starring role in the 1960s television show I Spy. During its first two seasons, he was also a regular on the children's television series The Electric Company.
Using the Fat Albert character developed during his stand-up routines, Cosby created, produced, and hosted the animated comedy television series Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, a show that ran from 1972 to 1985, centering on a group of young friends growing up in an urban area. Throughout the 1970s, Cosby starred in a number of films, occasionally returning to film later in his career. After attending Temple University in the 1960s, he received his bachelor's degree there in 1971. In 1973 he received a master's degree from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and in 1976 he earned his Doctor of Education degree, also from UMass. His dissertation discussed the use of Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids as a teaching tool in elementary schools.
Beginning in the 1980s, Cosby produced and starred in a television sitcom, The Cosby Show, which aired from 1984 to 1992 and was rated as the number one show in America for five years, 1984 through 1989. The sitcom highlighted the experiences and growth of an affluent African-American family. Cosby produced the Cosby Show spin-off sitcom A Different World, which aired from 1987 to 1993; starred in the sitcom Cosby from 1996 to 2000; and hosted Kids Say the Darndest Things for two seasons, from 1998 to 2000.
Cosby has been the subject of publicized sexual assault allegations since about 2000. As of October 23, 2015, Cosby has been accused by at least 57 women of either rape, drug facilitated sexual assault, sexual battery, child sexual abuse, and/or sexual misconduct, with the earliest alleged incidents taking place in the mid-1960s. He has denied the allegations and has never been criminally charged. Most of the acts alleged by his accusers fall outside the statutes of limitations for legal proceedings. As of November 19, 2015, eight related lawsuits against Cosby are pending.