was born and raised in Cleveland where his mother was a cleaning lady and his father a construction worker. As an amateur actor in the city's Karamu House Theater, he starred in the Ossie Davis
play Purlie Victorious
. Cobbs was an Air Force radar technician for eight years; he also worked in office products at IBM and sold cars in Cleveland. In 1970, at the age of 36, he left for New York to seek work as an actor. There he turned down a job in the NBC sales department in order to have time for auditions. He supported himself by driving a cab, repairing office equipment, selling toys, and performing odd jobs. His first professional acting role was in Ride a Black Horse
at the Negro Ensemble Company. From there he appeared in small theater productions, street theater, regional theater and at the Eugene O'Neill Theater. His first television credit was in Vegetable Soup
(1976), a New York public television educational series, and he made his feature film debut in 1974 in the thriller The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three.
Cobbs has gone on to appear in numerous film and television roles. His film credits include Decoration Day, The Hudsucker Proxy, Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead, New Jack City, That Thing You Do!, Ghosts of Mississippi, Carolina Skeletons and A Mighty Wind. He has been a series regular on The Gregory Hines Show and I'll Fly Away, among others. He has also appeared on The Drew Cary Show and Six Feet Under. Earlier this year Cobbs co-starred in the feature film Retirement with Peter Boyle, Peter Falk and Rip Torn. In his free time Cobbs enjoys music, reading, playing his drums, and learning how to play golf.
: This profile was written in or before 2007
Read earlier biographies on this page
Bill Cobbs Facts
|Contemplating the Body|
|The Taking of Pelham One Two Three|
|Beverly Hills Cop III|
|Night at the Museum|
|On Angel's Wings|
|The Ultimate Gift|