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; born July 12, 1937) is an American stand-up comedian, actor, musician, and author.

Cosby was lauded for using African-American performers such as Lillian Randolph, Moms Mabley, and Rex Ingram as characters.

According to commentary on the Season 1 DVDs for the show, Cosby was at odds with NBC over his refusal to include a laugh track in the show (he felt that viewers had the ability to find humor for themselves when watching a TV show).

For the PBS series The Electric Company, Cosby recorded several segments teaching reading skills to young children.

In 1972, Cosby received an MA from the University of Massachusetts and was also back in prime time with a variety series, The New Bill Cosby Show.

After entertaining his customers with humor and seeing his tips increase, he proceeded to take his talent to the stage. While many comics of the time were using the growing freedom of that decade to explore material that was controversial and sometimes risqué, Cosby was making his reputation with humorous recollections of his childhood. I Spy became the first weekly dramatic television series to feature an African-American in a starring role.

He booked dates in cities such as Chicago, Las Vegas, San Francisco, and Washington, D. In the summer of 1963, he received national exposure on NBC's The Tonight Show. Records, who, in 1964, released his debut LP Bill Cosby Is a Very Funny Fellow... Many Americans wondered about the absence of race as a topic in Cosby's stories. At first, Cosby and NBC executives were concerned that some affiliates might be unwilling to carry the series.

Cosby pursued a variety of additional television projects and appeared as a regular guest host on The Tonight Show and as the star of an annual special for NBC.

In 1969, he returned with another series, The Bill Cosby Show, a situation comedy that ran for two seasons.

I Spy finished among the twenty most-watched shows that year, and Cosby would be honored with three consecutive Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series.

During the series run, Cosby continued to do standup comedy performances and recorded a half dozen record albums for Warner Bros. He also began to dabble in singing, recording Silver Throat: Bill Cosby Sings in 1967.

As a student, he described himself as a class clown.