He voiced Fat Albert, portrayed America's favorite dad on "The Cosby Show" and hawked Jell-O with style.
Now, Bill Cosby can add a new accolade to his long train of accomplishments - Marian Anderson Award winner.
Mayor Nutter yesterday named Cosby, a Philadelphia native, the 11th winner of the award, which honors artists whose work advances social causes.
"He's a great guy, wonderfully funny, but also very serious about issues related to children and families," Nutter said. "He's a proud Philadelphian son and I could not be more happy."
Cosby, 72, has become known in recent years for his tough talk about the problems in the black community, criticizing what he calls lax parenting.
Pamela Browner White, chairwoman of the award, said that Cosby won for his body of work and for his efforts to start a dialogue about issues in the black community.
"It's very interesting to have someone who doesn't have a problem saying things that need to be said," White said.
Cosby, who cut his teeth in stand-up comedy, first earned stardom as an actor on the television series "I Spy." He went on to create the cartoon "Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids." But he is best known as Cliff Huxtable, the lovable patriarch of a warm middle-class black family on "The Cosby Show," which ran for eight seasons, from 1984 to 1992.
In a statement, Cosby said: "I am humbled. The clarity of viewing racism from Marian Anderson's DAR [Daughters of the American Revolution] rejection proves that racism is a waste of time, precious time."
Anderson, a Philadelphia-born contralto, is best known for giving a concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1939, after the DAR refused to give her permission to perform before an integrated audience at Washington, D.C.'s Constitution Hall.
Cosby's other awards include the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Kennnedy Center Honors.
He will be feted at a gala concert at the Kimmel Center on April 6. Organizers promised a star line-up.
Previous winners include Maya Angelou, Danny Glover, Elizabeth Taylor and Sidney Poitier. Cosby is the first Philadelphia native to receive the honor.