• Bill Cobbs is a legendary actor, appearing in films such as "The Bodyguard", "Oz the Great and Powerful" and the "Hand of God" series.
• He was born into a family with several children, with his cousin James Baskett being an actor who was awarded an Honorary Academy Award.
• Bill served in the US Air Force and then worked at IBM before pursuing his acting career.
• He has appeared in both stage and screen productions, such as "The Taking of Pelham One Two Three" and "Night at the Museum".
• He has been honored with the prestigious Joseph Jefferson Award and is an active supporter of Cleveland Clinic's Minority Men's Health Center.

Known for movies

Short Info

MarkDeep resonant voice
FactSecond cousin of James Baskett.

Bill Cobbs is a legendary actor, who has an extensive acting career and has appeared in such movies as “The Bodyguard”, “Oz the Great and Powerful” and the “Hand of God” series.

Early life and family

Wilbert “Bill” Francisco Cobbs was born on 16 June 1934, in Cleveland, Ohio USA, under the sign of Gemini; his nationality is American. He was born into a family with several children; his mother was a domestic worker, and his father worked in the construction industry.

Bill had a cousin, James “Jimmy” Baskett, who was also an actor, and can be seen in such movies as “Harlem Is Heaven” (1932), “Revenge of the Zombies” (1943) and “Song of the South” (1946), and who was also rewarded with an Honorary Academy Award, becoming the first black male performer who received such an award. Having several relatives working in the entertainment industry, Bill was inspired to become a performer or an actor since his childhood.

Educational background, army

Right after his matriculation from his local high school in Cleveland in 1952, Bill joined the US Air Force and served as a radar technician for over eight years.


Bill started working right after leaving the Air Force. He sold cars in his hometown of Cleveland, and then served as a clerk at IBM, before deciding to pursue his acting career.

Theatre career

Having a strong desire to become an actor, Bill debuted on stage in “Ride a Black Horse” in 1971, landing the role of Lloyd in the St. Mark’s Playhouse production. His performance was very convincing, and he continued with more stage roles in various productions – in 1972 he was in the production of Joseph Papp Public Theatre’s “Black Visions”, performed during New York Shakespeare Festival. In 1973 he was cast in his first main title role in “Freeman”, landing the role of Freeman Aquila in the American Place Theatre production.

Bill Cobbs

He could then be seen in productions including “What Winesellers Buy” (1973), “Les Femmes Noires” (1974), and “Black Picture Show” (1975). His stage career developed successfully, and he was invited to participate in several productions of the Negro Ensemble Company, such as “The First Breeze of Summer” (1975) and “Weep Not for Me” (1981). Being an alumni of Karamu House, he played in a number of their productions, including “Purlie Victorious”. Among his other works there were “The Amen Corner” (1981 – 1982), “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” (1984 – 1985) and “Twelfth Night, or What You Will” (1980).

Acting career

Bill didn’t refuse to consider offers from movies and films director, and started appearing in minor and episodic roles in such movies as “The Taking of Pelham One Two Three” in 1974, “Greased Lightning” in 1977 and “A Hero Ain’t Nothin’ but a Sandwich” in 1978. He continued appearing in the background of multiple movies as “a man in the bar”, “a man in the park” or “a man with a cup of coffee”, but was later cast for major roles. He played Walter in “The Brother from Another Planet” (1984), Sgt. Williams in “Compromising Positions “ (1985) and the role of Orvis in “The Color of Money” (1986).

In the early ‘90s he could be seen in such movies as “New Jack City” (1991), “Carolina Skeletons” (1993), and “Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead” (1995). Over the next decade he appeared in such as “I Still Know What You Did Last Summer” (1998), and “The Ultimate Gift” (2006). His appearance in the comedy “Night at the Museum” with Ben Stiller made him even more popular, and he was also invited to appear in the sequel “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian”, but in the end the scene with him was deleted. However, he also appeared in “Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb”. His latest works are “The Great Gilly Hopkins” (2015), “Call Me King” (2016) and “New Life” (2016).

Appearing in the TV series

Bill has made numerous appearances in TV sitcoms and dramas, debuting as a series actor in “Sesame Street” in 1985. He then played in “Kate & Allie” in 1986, then became a regular cast member in “The Slap Maxwell Story” from 1987 to 1988, and played the role of Lewis Coleman in the TV drama “I’ll Fly Away” from 1991 to 1993. In the late ‘90s he could be seen in such popular series as “The Outer Limits” (1995 – 2002), “The Wayans Bros.” (1995 – 1999), in which Bill played the role of Fred Watson, and “The Sopranos” (1999 – 2007), a super popular drama series in which Bill played the role of Reverend James Sr. in one of the episodes in 2000. Later he participated in such projects “The Michael Richards Show”, “Star Trek: Enterprise” and “The Carmichael Show”.


Bill was honored with the prestigious Joseph Jefferson Award in 1988 for his work in “Driving Miss Daisy”, in which he played one of the principal roles, a man named Hoke. The play was conducted in Chicago.

Personal life, wife Carolyn Cobbs

Bill is married to Carolyn Cobbs, and has appeared with his spouse a couple of times at such events as the premiere of  “Get Low”, produced by Sony Pictures Classics and AFI Associates at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater on 27 July 2010. Their photos in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, located in Beverly Hills, California, are rare evidence of his married status, as most of the time Carolyn doesn’t show up much.

Hobbies, favorite things and interesting facts

Bill often plays characters which are a bit older or much older than he is in real life. Bill once participated in the campaign of DJ Ra called “Hip-Hop Literacy”, spreading the word about the autobiography of Ice-T, a famous rapper and hip-hop performer.


Bill is an active supporter of Cleveland Clinic and its Minority Men’s Health Center in particular. He appeared in a special short video raising the awareness of men about the diseases they may face, sharing that African-American men are often at higher risks of prostate cancer, higher blood pressure and diabetes. In his message, he also encouraged African-American people live a healthier lifestyle – quit bad habits and eat good food.


Bill has dark brown hair, but almost always shaves his head; he has dark brown eyes. Bill is 6ft 1in (1.,85m) tall, while he weighs around 210lbs (95kgs). He sometimes wears glasses due to light miopia.

Net worth and salary

Bill’s current net worth is estimated to be around $4 million earned from his career as an actor, producer and executive producer. He is assigned to almost ten new projects, among them such films and series as “Sabora Mi”, “The Interims: When Between Time & Place”, “The Dark Return of Time”, and “Singletrack: The Movie” in which rumors suggest that Bill will play a mountain bike museum owner

Subscribe for the updates

* indicates required

General Info

Full NameBill Cobbs
ProfessionActor, Technician


AwardsDrama Desk Award for Most Promising Performer
MoviesThe Bodyguard, Night at the Museum, Oz the Great and Powerful, The Ultimate Gift, Air Bud, New Jack City, The Color of Money, The Hudsucker Proxy, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, The People Under the Stairs, Hope Floats, The Ultimate Life, The Great Gilly Hopkins, Get Low, The Derby Stallion,...
TV ShowsGo On, The Michael Richards Show, The Others, The Gregory Hines Show, I'll Fly Away

Social profile links


#Marks / Signs
1Deep resonant voice
2Often plays characters older than he is in real life


1Second cousin of James Baskett.
2Lives in New York City and Los Angeles, California.
3For the aged, post-Apocalyptic look of Steel in 1999's "Superman versus The Terminator" comics, Cobbs' likeness was used.
4Often confused with actor Bill Cosby.
5He was awarded the 1988 Joseph Jefferson Award for Actor in a Principal Role in a Play for "Driving Miss Daisy" in Chicago, Illinois.




First Ladies Diaries: Rachel Jackson1975TV MovieGeorge
A Boy and a Boa1975ShortFather
The Taking of Pelham One Two Three1974Man on Platform
Sabora Mi2017pre-productionBill
The Interims: When Between Time & Place2017announcedDesmond Jeffries (rumored)
FuN?2016Short post-productionMonte
Beyond the Silence2015completedJudge Johnson
As Evil Doespost-productionJeremiah
Bill and the Eco Stars AdventuresVideo short filmingBill
The Dark Return of TimefilmingLegrand
New Life2016Mr. Charles
Greenleaf2016TV SeriesHenry McCready
The Mastermind 52016TV SeriesThe Mentor
The Great Gilly Hopkins2016Mr. Randolph
Call Me King2016Malachi
The Ultimate Legacy2015TV MovieMr. Theodore Hamilton
A House Is Not a Home2015Paul
Hand of God2015TV SeriesPapa Gene
Night at the Museum 32014Reginald
Christmas in Palm Springs2014Gabriel
Of Mind and Music2014Stompleg
Rake2014TV SeriesJudge Rutchland / Federal Judge
The Bay2014TV SeriesBoyd Bloom
Clipped Wings, They Do Fly2014Judge Johnson
On Angel's Wings2014Mr. Dupac
Dear Secret Santa2013TV MovieTed
Vampires in Venice2013Dr. Dooley
Back in the Game2013TV SeriesJames
The Last Letter2013Pastor (as Bill T. Cobbs)
The Ultimate Life2013Mr. Theophilus Hamilton
Go On2012-2013TV SeriesGeorge
Oz the Great and Powerful2013Master Tinker
Branch Line2012ShortConductor
The Undershepherd2012Dr. Ezekiel Cannon
The Muppets2011Grandfather
The Arcadian2011Charles
Harry's Law2011TV SeriesJudge
Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior2011TV SeriesBishop Sanford
The Search for Santa Paws2010VideoMr. Stewart
The Glades2010TV SeriesGregory Richmond
No Limit Kids: Much Ado About Middle School2010Charlie
The Tenant2010Jack Rymer
Black Water Transit2009Frank Vermillion
Get Low2009Rev. Charlie Jackson
My Summer Friend2009ShortWalter
HappySAD2009Cephas Cordner
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation2008TV SeriesHarry Bastille
One Tree Hill2008TV SeriesGus
The Dark Horse2008/IIShortQuincey
Army Wives2008TV SeriesHarry
Players at the Poker Palace2008TV Series shortBill
The Morgue2008George
This Man's Life2008ShortMyer Truman
Grim Abdication2008ShortEnforcer
Side Order of Life2007TV SeriesEddie Morgan
October Road2007TV SeriesMr. Bolivar
Three Days to Vegas2007Marvin Jeffries
Night at the Museum2006Reginald
The Ultimate Gift2006Mr. Theophilus Hamilton
Hard Luck2006VideoCobb
Sweet Deadly Dreams2006Barney
Special Ed2005Lou
The Final Patient2005Dr. Daniel Green
Yes, Dear2005TV SeriesCounterman / Starter
The Derby Stallion2005Houston Jones
Return to Sender2005/IShortSaul Burroughs
Squirrel Man2005ShortMorgan Wendell
Star Trek: Enterprise2005TV SeriesDr. Emory Erickson
Inner Demon2005ShortArnold
Lost2004/IJeremy's Boss
The Drew Carey Show2002-2004TV SeriesTony
The Mortuary2004Franklin Harmon
Soul Food2004TV SeriesMr. Bradford
JAG2001-2003TV SeriesChaplain Matthew Turner
10-8: Officers on Duty2003TV SeriesEarl Edmonds
NYPD Blue1996-2003TV SeriesBernie Carpenter / Norval Stevens
A Mighty Wind2003Blues Musician
The Division2003TV SeriesMr. Greene
Enough2002/IJim Toller
My Wife and Kids2002TV SeriesMinister
Sunshine State2002Dr. Lloyd
The West Wing2002TV SeriesAlan Tatum
A Rugrats Kwanzaa Special2001TV MovieUncle Charles (voice)
Bitter Winter2001TV Movie
Philly2001TV SeriesWarren Bell
Six Feet Under2001TV SeriesMr. Jones
Rugrats2001TV SeriesUncle Charles
Touched by an Angel2001TV SeriesHenry Baldwin
The Fighting Fitzgeralds2001TV SeriesChet Armatrow
The Michael Richards Show2000TV SeriesJack
For All Time2000TV MovieProprietor / Conductor
The Others2000TV SeriesElmer Greentree
The Practice2000TV SeriesArthur Turner
The Sopranos2000TV SeriesReverend James Sr.
Random Hearts1999Marvin
The Outer Limits1997-1999TV SeriesJoe Dell / Second Elder
The Gregory Hines Show1997-1999TV SeriesJames Stevenson
For Your Love1998-1999TV SeriesUncle Stanley
L.A. Doctors1998TV SeriesBob
I Still Know What You Did Last Summer1998Estes
The Wild Thornberrys1998TV SeriesChief
Hope Floats1998Nurse
Paulie1998Virgil the Janitor
Always Outnumbered1998TV MovieRight Burke
Air Bud1997Arthur Chaney
High Incident1997TV SeriesEmmett
The Wayans Bros.1997TV SeriesFred Watson
Soulmates1997Mr. Williams
Walker, Texas Ranger1997TV SeriesGino Costa
Ghosts of Mississippi1996Charlie Evers
That Thing You Do!1996Del Paxton
First Kid1996Speet
Nightjohn1996TV MovieOld Man
Stories from the Edge1996TV Movie segment "Tuesday Morning Ride"
Thrill1996TV MovieNorm Duprey
ER1996TV SeriesMr. Bowman
Captiva Island1995Vernon
Goldilocks and the Three Bears1995Caleb
Tuesday Morning Ride1995Short
Out There1995TV MovieLyman Weeks
Man with a Gun1995Henry Griggs
Divas1995TV MovieSippy
Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead1995Malt
The Watcher1995TV Series
Kingfish: A Story of Huey P. Long1995TV MoviePullman Porter
Northern Exposure1994TV SeriesAngelo Maxwell
Empty Nest1994TV SeriesJerome
The Hudsucker Proxy1994Moses
Fatal Instinct1993Man in park (uncredited)
I'll Fly Away: Then and Now1993TV MovieLewis Coleman
Demolition Man1993Zachary Lamb - Aged
Coach1993TV SeriesGeorge
I'll Fly Away1991-1993TV SeriesLewis Coleman
The Bodyguard1992Devaney
Exiled in America1992Abraham White
Roadside Prophets1992Oscar
The People Under the Stairs1991Grandpa Booker
Carolina Skeletons1991TV MovieElijah Crooks
True Colors1991TV SeriesBernard Freeman
The Hard Way1991Raggedy Man
New Jack City1991Old Man
Moe's World1990TV Movie
Decoration Day1990TV MovieGee Pennywell
The Trials of Rosie O'Neill1990TV SeriesFish Fry Baby
Gabriel's Fire1990TV SeriesWalker Green
Married People1990TV SeriesWillis
Designing Women1990TV SeriesHenry / Charlie
Picking Tribes1989ShortVoice-over
The January Man1989Detective Reilly
Homeroom1989TV SeriesPhil Drexler
Bird1988Dr. Caulfield
The Slap Maxwell Story1987-1988TV SeriesThe Dutchman
L.A. Law1988TV SeriesWebb Johnson
Dominick and Eugene1988Jesse Johnson
Suspect1987Judge Franklin
Five Corners1987Man in Coffee Shop
Spenser: For Hire1987TV SeriesLarry Sills
Kate & Allie1986TV SeriesSam Butcher
The Color of Money1986Orvis
Johnny Bull1986TV MovieWiggins
Sesame Street1985TV SeriesLee
The Equalizer1985TV SeriesBarry
Compromising Positions1985Sgt. Williams
The Cotton Club1984Big Joe Ison
The Brother from Another Planet1984Walter
Silkwood1983Man in Lunchroom
Trading Places1983Bartender
Rage of Angels1983TV MovieAbraham Wilson
The Member of the Wedding1982TV MovieT.T. Williams
The Hitter1979Louisiana Slim
King1978TV Mini-Series
A Hero Ain't Nothin' But a Sandwich1978Bartender
Baby, I'm Back1977-1978TV SeriesAtt. Adam Johnson
Greased Lightning1977Mr. Jones
Good Times1976TV SeriesMr. Gillard


Sabora Mi2017co-producer pre-production
Beyond the Silence2015executive producer completed
As Evil Doesexecutive producer post-production
The Mastermind 52016TV Series co-producer

Music Department

Of Mind and Music2014vocals


Of Mind and Music2014performer: "LONESOME VALLEY", "WILL THE CIRCLE BE BROKEN"


Way Black When: Primetime2011TV SeriesHimself
African American History Parade2011TV MovieHimself
Make 'Em Laugh: The Funny Business of America2009TV Series documentaryHimself
Beah: A Black Woman Speaks2003DocumentaryHimself


Won Awards

2006Richard Kind Dramatic AwardTrenton Film FestivalNarrative Feature - Best ActorThe Final Patient (2005)

Source: IMDb, Wikipedia

Benjy is currently a reporter for BiographyPedia based in Adelaide, Australia. Prior to joining BiographyPedia in July 2019, he was a Bizarre TV reporter and theatre critic at TheSun. Benjy has also written for DailyMail and TMZ. Benjy studied journalism at Goldsmiths University of London, graduating in 2009. You can contact him at [email protected].

Write A Comment

Pin It