The Cosby Mystery

I like Bill Cosby.  Some might say that I’m obsessed with the man.  How could I not be?  He’s as much of a character as Chuck Norris and a source of many laughs, whether they are with him or at him.   Bill Cosby has been a pop-culture powerhouse for nearly half a century.  So when I came to the realization that I don’t know his true origins, you better believe that it rocked my world.  How could I not know how Cosby started his career in the spotlight?  Let me explain.

My first exposure to “the Cos” was his massively popular sitcom, The Cosby Show.  As a young boy I just assumed that he was an actor and always had been.  Eventually, I learned that he was also a comedian.  Alright, so Cosby started as a comedian, and, just like Tim Allen and Ray Romano, transitioned to actor on a sitcom based on his stand-up.  This makes perfect sense.  Well, it’s not that simple.

Cosby attended UMass Amherst, my alma mater, where he pursued a degree in Psychology, or something.  I know that he obtained some kind of degree at some point in his academic career that had to do with child development/ psychology.  You see, that makes a lot of sense when you factor in another stage in his career, children’s programming.  He created a character named Fat Albert, which was turned into a cartoon.  I’ve never seen Fat Albert, but I know that it is meant to be funny and at least a little educational.

Related to Fat Albert, Cosby also had something to do with the program, The Electric CompanyThe Electric Company, if I understand it, is a type of educational program for children similar to Sesame Street, but it came before.  Cosby appeared on this show, at least sporadically, and I think he played a role behind the scenes as well.

This is all great, but what about the stand-up comedian stage in his career?  Did Cosby start out as a comedian and then use that fame to work on his child-focused programs?  The mystery deepens.  And I’m not finished!

Recently, I watched an old show called I Spy.  Cosby was the first black actor to have a starring role on a major television series.  I think what I just said is true, but it’s only based on the testimony of one baby boomer.  Anyway, Cosby was very young on this show, and from the looks of it it came out in the early to mid-seventies.  This really throws me off.  Now it looks like he started as an actor before pursuing other endeavors.  Is it possible that he started as an actor, became a comedian, and then invested his time in children’s programming?  It’s possible, but is it true?

How did Cosby end up being what he is today?  I know that I can just Google this and find his brief history on Wikipedia, but I want to do it the old fashion way.  I want knowledgeable people to help me out.

Help me to solve this Cosby mystery.  And where does Ghost Dad fit into it all!

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