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Beloved Actor Bill Cobbs Passes Away At 90

 June 27, 2024

A beloved character actor known for his extensive body of work in film and television has passed away.

Bill Cobbs died on Tuesday at his home in the Inland Empire, California at the age of 90, according to the Associated Press.

He was surrounded by family and friends at the time of his passing, and his death was likely the result of natural causes, as publicist Chuck I. Jones noted.

Born In Cleveland, Ohio

Wilbert Francisco Cobbs was born on June 16, 1934, in Cleveland, Ohio. After high school, he served eight years in the U.S. Air Force. Following his military service, Cobbs transitioned from selling cars to pursuing a career in acting.

His first stage appearance came in 1969. He began his acting journey in Cleveland theater before joining the Negro Ensemble Company in New York. Cobbs found acting as a means to express the human condition, particularly during the Civil Rights Movement.

Extensive Career In Film And Television

Cobbs' career in film and television spanned several decades. He made his first big-screen appearance in the 1974 film The Taking of Pelham One Two Three. Notably, most of his significant roles came during his 50s, 60s, and 70s.

He acted in prominent films such as The Hudsucker Proxy, The Bodyguard, and Night at the Museum. Cobbs also accrued approximately 200 film and TV credits throughout his career. His performances were varied, ranging from dramatic to mystical roles.

Notable Film Roles

In The Bodyguard (1992), Cobbs portrayed Whitney Houston’s manager. He also played the mystical clock man in The Hudsucker Proxy (1994) and a doctor in Sunshine State (2002).

Cobbs was also known for his role as a coach in Air Bud (1997) and a security guard in Night at the Museum (2006). Each role showcased Cobbs' versatility and ability to bring depth to his characters.

Television Appearances

Cobbs made significant television appearances as well. He appeared in iconic shows such as The Sopranos, The West Wing, Sesame Street, and Good Times. On The Gregory Hines Show, Cobbs took on the role of a father figure, earning him high regard among his peers.

Cobbs won a Daytime Emmy Award for outstanding limited performance for the series Dino Dana in 2020. His contribution to television cemented his legacy as a versatile and dedicated actor.

Wendell Pierce Remembers Cobbs

Wendell Pierce, who worked with Cobbs in I’ll Fly Away and The Gregory Hines Show, remembered him fondly. Pierce described Cobbs as “a father figure, a griot, an iconic artist that transformed me by the way he led his life as an actor.”

Cobbs' own words reflected his dedication to his craft. He once said, “To be an artist, you have to have a sense of giving. Art is somewhat of a prayer, isn’t it? We respond to what we see around us and what we feel and how things affect us mentally and spiritually.”

Legacy Of A Prolific Actor

Cobbs' impact on the entertainment industry and his contribution to the portrayal of the human experience are remarkable. From his early days in Cleveland theater to his enduring presence in Hollywood, Cobbs demonstrated the power of acting as a form of expression.

Throughout his extensive career, Cobbs worked alongside notable actors like Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee. His dedication to his craft and his ability to connect with audiences made him a revered figure in the acting community.

Cobbs' performances provided a means to explore and understand the human condition, particularly during times of significant social change. His ability to portray characters with depth and sincerity resonated with audiences worldwide.

Final Thoughts and Lasting Impact

Bill Cobbs will be remembered not only for the roles he played but for the wisdom and compassion he brought to each part. His legacy is one of a prolific and sage character actor who enriched the lives of those who watched his performances.

In summary, Bill Cobbs, a respected and beloved character actor, has died at the age of 90. His contributions to film and television, marked by approximately 200 credits, left an enduring impact on audiences and peers alike.

Cobbs' ability to utilize acting as a means of expression highlights the significance of his work, particularly during the civil rights movement. He will be deeply missed by the industry and fans who admired his talents.

The entertainment world mourns the loss of Bill Cobbs, a man whose artistic contributions and profound portrayals have left an indelible mark on the history of film and television.