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Bill Cobbs
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Cobbs on the set of Get Low in 2009
William Francisco Cobbs

(1934-06-16) June 16, 1934 (age 89)
Occupation Actor
Years active 1974–present
Family James Baskett (second cousin)

William Francisco Cobbs (born June 16, 1934) is an American actor. He is known for such film roles as Louisiana Slim in The Hitter (1979), Walter in The Brother from Another Planet (1984), Reginald in Night at the Museum (2006) and Master Tinker on Oz the Great and Powerful (2013). He played Lewis Coleman on I'll Fly Away (1991–1993), Jack on The Michael Richards Show (2000), and had guest appearances on Walker, Texas Ranger and The Sopranos. In 2020, he won a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Limited Performance in a Daytime Program for the series Dino Dana.

Early life

Cobbs was born in Cleveland, Ohio, to a mother, Vera, who was a domestic worker and a father, David, who worked in construction. He is the second cousin of James Baskett.


Cobbs served in the U.S. Air Force as a 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. He supported himself by driving a cab, repairing office equipment, selling toys, and performing odd jobs.

Cobb credits Reuben Silver with his start in acting at the African American Performing Arts Center and Karamu House Theatre in Cleveland Ohio. 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 Theatre.

As an amateur actor in the city's Karamu House Theater, Cobbs starred in the Ossie Davis play Purlie Victorious. Cobbs was in Vegetable Soup (1976), a New York public television educational series, and he made his feature film debut in The Taking of Pelham One Two Three in 1974. Cobbs has an extensive film career and has appeared and been a regular on many television programs, including The Michael Richards Show; The Outer Limits; I'll Fly Away; Yes, Dear; The Sopranos; Six Feet Under; The Others; JAG; The Drew Carey Show; October Road; One Tree Hill; Star Trek: Enterprise (as Dr. Emory Erickson, inventor of the Transporter); and many more. He had a recurring role as George, a blind grief-support-group member, in the TV series, Go On, which premiered in 2012.

In 2006, Cobbs played a supporting role in Night at the Museum as Reginald, a security guard on the verge of retirement. The character also served as an antagonist to the story. He played basketball coach and retired basketball player Arthur Chaney in Disney's Air Bud and Medgar Evers' older brother Charles Evers in Rob Reiner's Ghosts of Mississippi. He had a role in the Coen Brothers' The Hudsucker Proxy and played fictional jazz pianist Del Paxton in Tom Hanks' That Thing You Do. He has a brief appearance in the 2010 film The Search for Santa Paws.

In 2013, Cobbs co-starred in Oz the Great and Powerful as the Master Tinker, and in late 2014 reprised his role of Reginald in Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb. He recorded a public service announcement for Deejay Ra's Hip-Hop Literacy2 campaign, encouraging reading of Ice-T's autobiography.

In 2020, he guest starred in the two-part series finale of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., portraying an unnamed elderly S.H.I.E.L.D. agent.


Film roles
Year Title Role Notes
1974 The Taking of Pelham One Two Three Man on Platform
1975 A Boy and a Boa Father Short film
1977 Greased Lightning Mr. Jones
1978 A Hero Ain't Nothin' but a Sandwich Bartender
1979 The Hitter Louisiana Slim
1983 Trading Places Bartender
1983 Silkwood Man in Lunchroom
1984 The Brother from Another Planet Walter
1984 The Cotton Club Big Joe Ison
1985 Compromising Positions Sgt. Williams
1986 The Color of Money Orvis
1987 Five Corners Man in Coffee Shop
1987 Suspect Judge Franklin
1988 Dominick and Eugene Jesse Johnson
1988 Bird Dr. Caulfield
1989 The January Man Detective Reilly
1989 Picking Tribes Voice-over Short film
1991 New Jack City Old Man
1991 The Hard Way Raggedy Man
1991 The People Under the Stairs Grandpa Booker
1992 Roadside Prophets Oscar
1992 Exiled in America Abraham White
1992 The Bodyguard Bill Devaney
1993 Demolition Man Zachery Lamb - Aged
1993 Fatal Instinct Man in park Uncredited
1994 The Hudsucker Proxy Moses
1995 Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead Malt
1995 Fluke Bert
1995 Man with a Gun Henry Griggs
1995 Tuesday Morning Ride Jeff Short film
1995 Goldilocks and the Three Bears Caleb
1995 Captiva Island Vernon
1996 Ed Tipton
1996 First Kid Speet
1996 That Thing You Do! Del Paxton
1996 Ghosts of Mississippi Charles Evers
1997 Soulmates Mr. Williams
1997 Air Bud Coach Arthur Chaney
1998 Paulie Virgil the Janitor
1998 Hope Floats Nurse
1998 I Still Know What You Did Last Summer Estes
1999 Random Hearts Marvin
2002 Sunshine State Dr. Elton Lloyd
2002 Enough Jim Toller
2003 A Mighty Wind Blues Musician
2004 The Mortuary Franklin Harmon
2004 Lost Jeremy's Boss
2005 Inner Demon Arnold Short film
2005 Squirrel Man Morgan Wendell Short film
2005 Duck Norman
2005 Return to Sender Saul Burroughs Short film
2005 The Derby Stallion Houston Jones
2005 The Final Patient Dr. Daniel Green
2005 Special Ed Lou
2006 Sent Doctor Short film
2006 Hard Luck Cobb Direct-to-video
2006 The Ultimate Gift Mr. Theophilus Hamilton
2006 Night at the Museum Reginald
2006 Sweet Deadly Dreams Barney
2007 Three Days to Vegas Marvin Jeffries
2008 Grim Abdication Enforcer Short film
2008 This Man's Life Myer Truman Short film
2008 The Morgue George Direct-to-video
2008 The Dark Horse Quincey Short film
2009 The Rebel Heart Cephas Cordner
2009 My Summer Friend Walter Short film
2009 Get Low Rev. Charlie Jackson
2009 Steadfast John Short film
2009 Black Water Transit Frank Vermillion
2009 Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian Reginald Scene deleted
2010 No Limit Kids: Much Ado About Middle School Charlie
2010 The Search for Santa Paws Mr. Stewart Direct-to-video
2010 The Tenant Jack Rymer
2010 Stroll Clayton Short film
2011 The Arcadian Charles
2011 The Muppets Grandfather
2012 The Undershepherd Dr. Ezekiel Cannon
2012 Lukewarm Thomas
2012 Branch Line Conductor Short film
2013 Oz the Great and Powerful Master Tinker
2013 The Ultimate Life Mr. Theophilus Hamilton
2013 The Last Letter Pastor
2013 Vampires in Venice Dr. Dooley
2014 Tiffany at Breakfast Him Short film
2014 Of Mind and Music Stompleg
2014 Christmas in Palm Springs Gabriel
2014 Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb Reginald
2014 On Angel's Wings Mr. Dupac
2015 A House Is Not a Home Paul
2015 The Great Gilly Hopkins Mr. Randolph
2016 New Life Mr. Charles
2017 Beyond the Silence Judge Johnson
2017 Call Me King Malachi
2017 FuN? Monte Short film
2017 The Weight Ezra Thomas Short film
2018 As Evil Does Jeremiah
2018 Clipped Wings, They Do Fly Judge Johnson
2019 Beyond the Law Swilley
2020 Dino Dana: The Movie Mr. Hendrickson
2021 Saving Paradise John Thompson
2022 Block Party Uncle Jim
2022 Caroltyn Dr. Mason
Television roles
Year Title Role Notes
1975 First Ladies Diaries: Rachel Jackson George TV movie
1976 Good Times George Gillard Episode: "Evans Versus Davis"
1977-1978 Baby, I'm Back Att. Adam Johnson 2 episodes
1978 King Miniseries
1982 The Member of the Wedding T.T. Williams TV movie
1983 Rage of Angels Abraham Wilson Miniseries
1985 The Equalizer Barry Episode: "The Distant Fire"
1985 Sesame Street Lee Episode #17.30
1986 Johnny Bull Wiggins TV movie
1986 Kate & Allie Sam Butcher 2 episodes
1987 Spenser: For Hire Larry Sills Episode: "If You Knew Sammy"
1987-1988 The Slap Maxwell Story The Dutchman Main cast
1988 L.A. Law Webb Johnson Episode: "Belle of the Bald"
1989 Homeroom Phil Drexler Main cast
1990 Designing Women Henry / Charlie Episode: "Papa Was a Rolling Stone"
1990 Married People Willis Episode: "Money Changes Everything"
1990 Gabriel's Fire Walker Green Episode: "I'm Nobody"
1990 The Trials of Rosie O'Neill Fish Fry Baby Episode: "Rosie Gets the Blues"
1990 Decoration Day Gee Pennywell TV movie
1990 Moe's World TV Pilot
1991 True Colors Bernard Freeman Episode: "Favorite Son"
1991 Carolina Skeletons Elijah Crooks TV movie
1991-1993 I'll Fly Away Lewis Coleman Main cast
1993 Coach George Episode: "Why So Happy, Hayden?"
1993 I'll Fly Away: Then and Now Lewis Coleman TV movie
1994 Empty Nest Jerome Episode: "Gesundeit"
1994 Northern Exposure Angelo Maxwell Episode: "The Letter"
1995 Kingfish: A Story of Huey P. Long Pullman Porter TV movie
1995 The Watcher Episode: "Reversal of Fortune"
1995 Divas Sippy TV movie
1995 Out There Lyman Weeks TV movie
1996 NYPD Blue Norval Stevens Episode: "The Nutty Confessor"
1996 ER Mr. Bowman Episode: "The Match Game"
1996 Nightjohn Old Man TV movie
1996 Thrill Norm Duprey TV movie
1996 Stories from the Edge TV movie; Segment: "Tuesday Morning Ride"
1997 The Outer Limits Second Elder - Prisoner No. 91777 Episode: "The Camp"
1997 Walker, Texas Ranger Gino Costa Episode: "Full Contact"
1997 The Wayans Bros. Fred Watson Episode: "The Black Widower"
1997 High Incident Emmett Episode: "Starting Over"
1997-1999 The Gregory Hines Show James Stevenson Main cast
1998 Always Outnumbered Right Burke TV movie
1998 The Wild Thornberrys Chief (voice) Episode: "Dinner with Darwin"
1998 L.A. Doctors Bob Episode: "What About Bob?"
1998-1999 For Your Love Uncle Stanley 2 episodes
1999 The Outer Limits Joe Dell Episode: "Fathers and Sons"
2000 The Sopranos Reverend James, Sr. Episode: "Do Not Resuscitate"
2000 The Practice Arthur Turner Episode: "Till Death Do Us Part"
2000 The Others Elmer Greentree Main cast
2000 For All Time Proprietor / Conductor TV movie
2000 The Michael Richards Show Jack Main cast
2001 The Fighting Fitzgeralds Chet Armatrow Episode: "The Fire Fight"
2001 Touched by an Angel Henry Baldwin Episode: "Band of Angels"
2001 Six Feet Under Mr. Jones Episode: "The Room"
2001 Rugrats Uncle Charles (voice) Episode: "A Rugrats Kwanzaa"
2001 Philly Warren Bell Episode: "Loving Sons"
2001 Bitter Winter TV movie
2001-2003 JAG Chaplain Matthew Turner 4 episodes
2002 The West Wing Alan Tatum Episode: "Enemies Foreign and Domestic"
2002 My Wife and Kids Minister 2 episodes
2002-2004 The Drew Carey Show Tony 9 episodes
2003 The Division Mr. Greene Episode: "Strangers"
2003 NYPD Blue Bernie Carpenter Episode: "Maybe Baby"
2004 Soul Food Mr. Bradford Episode: "Fear Eats the Soul"
2005 Star Trek: Enterprise Dr. Emory Erickson Episode: "Daedalus"
2005 Yes, Dear Starter Episode: "Greg's a Mooch"
Counterman Episode: "Barbecue"
2007 October Road Mr. Bolivar Episode: "Forever Until Now"
2007 Side Order of Life Eddie Morgan Episode: "Separation Anxiety"
2008 Players at the Poker Palace Bill Episode: "A Couple of Black Yankees"
2008 Army Wives Harry Episode: "The Messenger"
2008 One Tree Hill Gus Episode: "Touch Me I'm Going to Scream: Part I"
2008 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Harry Bastille Episode: "Young Man with a Horn"
2010 The Glades Gregory Richmond Episode: "Honey"
2011 Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior Bishop Sanford Episode: "Lonely Hearts"
2011 Harry's Law Judge Episode: "American Dreams"
2012-2013 Go On George Recurring
2013 Back in the Game James Episode: "Night Games"
2013 Dear Secret Santa Ted TV movie
2014 The Bay Boyd Bloom 1 episode
2014 Rake Judge Rutchland Recurring
2015 Hand of God Papa Gene 2 episodes
2016 The Ultimate Legacy Mr. Theophilus Hamilton TV movie
2016 The Mastermind 5 The Mentor TV Pilot
2016-2017 Greenleaf Henry McCready Recurring
2017 The Carmichael Show Vernon Episode: "Evelyn & Vernon"
2017 My Christmas Grandpa Fred TV Short
2017 Hannah Royce's Questionable Choices Jack TV Pilot
2017–2019 Dino Dana Mr. Hendrickson 6 episodes
2018 Superior Donuts Luther "Wheels" Langdon Episode: "Always Bet On Black"
2020 Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Elderly S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Episode: "The End Is at Hand"

See also

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