Renowned Actor Bill Cobbs Passes Away, Leaving Legacy in Hollywood

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In the heart of the Inland Empire, California, the curtains fell for the last time on the illustrious life of veteran character actor, Bill Cobbs. Cocooned amidst the comfort of dear family and friends, Cobbs breathed his final breath on Tuesday, according to his publicist, Chuck I. Jones. At 90 years of age, the venerated thespian left us due to presumed natural causes, marking the end of an era in the world of film and television.

Hailing from Cleveland, the ‘Everyman’ of Hollywood, Cobbs, lent his seasoned craftsmanship to an array of films, such as “The Hudsucker Proxy”, “The Bodyguard”, and the rib-tickling romp, “Night at the Museum”. His maiden voyage into cinema began with a brief role in 1974’s “The Taking of Pelham One Two Three,” which blossomed into a lifelong commitment of weaving magic on the silver screen. His acting portfolio, boasting over 200 film and TV roles amassed during his 50s, 60s, and 70s, bears testament to his irresistible allure as filmmakers and TV producers flocked to him, entrusting him with pivotal roles that required his signature soulful wisdom.

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Cobbs painted memorable characters on popular TV platforms such as “The Sopranos”, “The West Wing”, “Sesame Street”, and “Good Times”. His versatile performances had him slipping into the shoes of Whitney Houston’s manager in “The Bodyguard” (1992), the enigmatic clock man in “The Hudsucker Proxy” (1994), and the empathetic physician in “Sunshine State” (2002). Whether as the inspiring coach of “Air Bud” (1997), the vigilant security guard in “Night at the Museum” (2006), or the kind-hearted father on “The Gregory Hines Show”, Cobbs impeccably encapsulated the nuances of each character, creating an enduring impression in the minds of audiences.

Cobbs was no stranger to accolades, despite limited exposure to prime roles. A testament to his prowess is the Daytime Emmy Award he clinched for a limited performance in “Dino Dana” in 2020. A gifted storyteller, Cobbs touched lives both on and off stage. Fellow actor Wendell Pierce, Cobbs’ co-star in “I’ll Fly Away” and “The Gregory Hines Show,” revered him as “a father figure, a griot, an iconic artist” on an undisclosed social media platform.

Wilbert Francisco Cobbs, born on June 16, 1934, was not just a gifted actor but a decorated veteran who served in the U.S. Air Force for eight years upon completing high school in Cleveland. Post-service, amidst selling cars, Cobbs stumbled upon the enchanting world of theater in 1969, when a customer asked him to act in a play. This chance encounter paved Cobbs’ way to New York City where he joined the Negro Ensemble Company, rubbing shoulders with legendary actors, Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee.

Cobbs found in acting a potent vessel to echo the human condition, often resonating with the waves of the Civil Rights Movement in the late ‘60s. A man of few words but abundant wisdom, Cobbs, during a 2004 interview, remarked, “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.” His legend will continue to inspire generations of artists, serving as a beacon of artistic devotion and truth.