Bill Cobbs, ‘The Sopranos’ and ‘The Bodyguard’ Character Actor, Dies at 90

The Emmy-winning performer’s career spanned five decades, with other featured roles in “Demolition Man” and “Oz the Great and Powerful”

Bill Cobbs attends 28th Annual NAACP Theatre Awards in Los Angeles (Credit: Leon Bennett/WireImage)
Bill Cobbs attends 28th Annual NAACP Theatre Awards in Los Angeles (Credit: Leon Bennett/WireImage)

Bill Cobbs, the veteran character actor whose career spanned more than five decades, died Tuesday night, his brother shared on social media. The actor is believed to have died of natural causes at his home in the Southern California Inland Empire city of Riverside, surrounded by family. Cobbs had recently celebrated his 90th birthday.

“Bill was a phenomenal human being in addition to being a spectacular actor,” Cobbs’ publicist Chuck I. Jones said in a statement to TheWrap. “He was very kind, giving and attentive to others. He was especially very proud of receiving a Daytime ‘Emmy Award’ and his work with the cast & crew on such films as ‘Demolition Man,’ ‘The Bodyguard’ and ‘Oz the Great and Powerful.’”

“As a family we are comforted knowing Bill has found peace and eternal rest with his Heavenly Father,” a post from Cobbs’ brother Thomas read. “We ask for your prayers and encouragement during this time.”

Along with the films noted above, some of his most notable work on the big screen included appearances in “Night at the Museum,” “That Thing You Do!” and “The People Under the Stairs.”

Cobbs also worked regularly in TV, with appearances on “The West Wing,” “Walker, Texas Ranger,”  “One Tree Hill” and “The Sopranos” among others. The actor won his Daytime Emmy Award for his work on kids show “Dino Dana.”

Cobbs was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio and served in the Air Force before diving into acting full-time. He started in the theater, starring in a production of “Purlie Victorious” when he was young.  

At 36, he moved to New York City to pursue acting after a career as a radar technician and car salesman. Cobbs supported himself as a cabbie until he booked his first theater gigs in Manhattan. 

He made his feature film debut in 1974’s “The Taking of Pelham One Two Three” and went on to amass nearly 200 film and television credits.


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