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BILL COSBY:
Born: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Other: Won 7 Grammys for Best Comedy Album

Growing up in Philadelphia, Bill Cosby earned a reputation as the class clown. It was the sort of reputation that followed him through many jobs and his years in the US Navy. While many wouldn't want that kind of reputation following them, Bill Cosby turned it into one of the most successful comedy careers today. Much of his work on the big and small screen are considered classic, but he started out doing stand-up, and continues that tradition today.

Cosby first tried stand-up in the early 60s while working at a club in Philadelphia, where he'd been waiting tables. His years of class clowning turned into a solid act, and he quickly started doing more. Cosby left college to do stand-up full time, though he would return years later as he learned the value of a good education.

National exposure followed in 1963 when he landed a spot on The Tonight Show. That lead to a record deal with Warner Brothers who released his first LP: Bill Cosby Is a Very Funny Fellow...Right! While such comedy albums aren't quite so common today, they were a significant source of exposure for comedians in the years not only before YouTube, but DVDs and cable stand-up specials.

Cosby's success on stage lead to success in television, as he was cast in I Spy. He became the first African-American to co-star as a lead in a TV drama. He would win 3 Emmys for his performance on the show. While Cosby continued to work in film and television throughout the late 60s and 70s he did not neglect stage work.

His stand up career continued, as did the comedy albums. He holds the most Grammys for Best Comedy Album at seven. Though less well known, he even released a few musical albums during this period, though they were not met with the same critical embrace as his comedy.

Cosby had been involved in a number of TV projects since I Spy, but his biggest happened in the 80s with The Cosby Show. He became a household name from the 8 years on what became one of the top sitcoms of all time. After The Cosby Show ended he tried a number of film and TV projects, none quite as successful.

Today Cosby still tours regularly doing his iconic brand of family friendly stand-up comedy. Cosby's shows and material are universal fun for all ages, something he's very proud of. Make sure to see one of comedy's biggest icons live on stage and not just on TV when he visits a venue near you.

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4/24/2014 1:49:04 AM on TCWEB1