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The Cosby show 

Beloved comedian Bill Cosby makes a rare visit to the Inland Northwest this week

by Tina Sulzle & & stuff & & & &

In 1984, Bill Cosby revolutionized the world of sitcom television with his portrayal of Dr. Heathcliff Huxtible. His man-next-door humor -- not to mention one of the most popular African American families in television history -- touched the lives of millions of viewers and changed the way prime-time television will be viewed forever.

This Saturday night, the friendly patriarch of The Cosby Show will bring his refreshingly prudent and tasteful act to the Spokane Arena. It's the kickoff of the 5th Birthday Event lineup for the Arena.

The Cosby Show marked the apex of Cosby's public celebrity, but his accomplishments have extended far beyond. Since first performing live in the early-1960s, Cosby has continued to uphold his singularly unique style of stand-up comedy. Without the glut of profanities that have catapulted recent comedians into the spotlight, Cosby will forever be known for his multifarious talent, approachability and commitment to positive values.

Cosby started off in showbiz with a stand-up routine at New York's Gaslight Caf & eacute; in 1962. In 1964, he debuted on the small screen with That Was the Week that Was, and then gained national attention when he co-starred with Robert Culp in I Spy (1965-68), in which he garnered three Emmy Awards for Best Actor. Since then, Cosby has become one of the nation's most recognizable performers.

His credits include The Bill Cosby Show (1967-71), The Electric Company (1971-76), Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids Saturday Morning Cartoon (1972-1984), The New Bill Cosby Show (1972-1973), The 1976 Variety Show, The New Fat Albert Show (1979-1984), The Cosby Show (1984-1992), You Bet Your Life (1992-1993), The Cosby Mysteries (1994-1995), Cosby (1996-2000) and Kids Say the Darndest Things (1998). As you can see, he's been a busy guy.

In addition to his success as a comedian, producer, philanthropist, father and actor, Cosby earned a master's degree in education in 1972 and his doctorate in education in 1977 from the University of Massachusetts. His doctoral thesis was titled "The Integration of Visual Media Via Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids Into the Elementary Schools Culminating as a Teacher Aid to Achieve Increased Learning."

And Cosby's commitment to education has been persistent. In 1985, he and his wife, Camille, made frequent donations to African American colleges and in 1989, they gave $20 million to Spelman College, an outstanding, historically African American college for women.

Cosby has also broken records in the publishing industry with his books Childhood, Fatherhood, Kids Say the Darndest Things, Love and Marriage, and Time Flies. He shared with the world his personal experiences of courtship, love, marriage, the joys of parenting and the challenges of leaving college to face the real world. His book Fatherhood became the fastest-selling hardcover book of all time. It remained for more than half of its 54 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List as No. 1.

But it's his stand-up comedy routine, the same type of routine that has won Cosby five Grammy Awards in the past, that Cosby will share with Spokane on Saturday. With his routine, Cosby will embody the character that has made so many people laugh since his early days of stardom nearly four decades ago: He brings himself. He shares with the audience the humor of everyday living, including everything from childhood romances and adolescent crushes to first love. He breathes life into what most people see as the mundane parts of their own domestic lives.

And it's laughter that has always kept Cosby in the hearts of his many admirers. In his first interview after the tragic death of his son, Ennis, in 1997, he told CBS interviewer Dan Rather: "We've got to laugh. I just want the people to know -- those who watch me, those who are with me -- it's over for looking at me to do anything but go back to what I am."

Bill Cosby performs at the Spokane Arena

on Saturday, Sept. 16, at 8 pm.

Tickets: $30-$60. Call: 325-SEAT.

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