Stalwart African-American player who has lent his comfortably weathered features and world-weary demeanor to many supporting roles on stage and screen. Cobbs convinces whether playing stubborn yet dignified fathers, melancholy denizens of bars and pool halls, or sympathetic authority figures. A latecomer to acting, Cobbs began in community theater in his native Cleveland while working as a car salesman. He moved to New York where he worked with the prestigious Negro Ensemble Company. He made his Broadway debut in "The First Breeze of Summer" and later appeared in Anthol Fugard's "Master Harold...and the Boys" and "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom."
Cobbs has been a regular presence on TV since the late 1970s. After snaring a small role in "King" (NBC, 1978) he went on to the "NBC Live Theater" presentation of "The Member of the Wedding" (1982) and "Rage of Angels" (NBC, 1983). Cobbs worked with Black theater legends Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee on their PBS anthology series, "Ossie and Ruby," starring opposite Dee in "My Man Bovanne" (1987) directed by Davis. He was a regular on the short-lived ABC sitcoms "The 'Slap' Maxwell Story" (1988) and "Homeroom" (1989) and did guest shots on numerous series including "Designing Women" and "LA Law." Cobbs may be best remembered for his portrayal of Lewis Coleman, the strong traditional father of Regina Taylor's character on the acclaimed dramatic series "I'll Fly Away" (NBC, 1991-93) a role he reprised for the PBS TV-movie conclusion "I'll Fly Away: Then and Now" (1993).
Cobbs has also appeared in over 20 features since the late 70s including "The Brother From Another Planet," "The Cotton Club" (both 1984), "The Color of Money" (1986), "Bird" (1988) and "New Jack City" (1991). More recently he played Whitney Houston's manager in "The Bodyguard" (1992) and an old partner of defrosted anachronistic cop Sly Sly Stallone in "Demolition Man" (1993).
Cast (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Moved to NYC where he began working with the Negro Ensemble Company
Broadway debut, "The First Breeze of Summer"
First notable film credit, "Greased Lightning"
Made in TV debut in NBC biographical miniseries "King"
Appeared in Broadway production of "Master Harold...and the Boys"
Landed first substantial TV role in "The Member of the Wedding," a presentation of "NBC Live Theater"
Starred opposite Ruby Dee in "My Man Bovanne," a segment of "Ossie and Ruby" directed by Ossie Davis
Landed first recurring role in a TV series, playing the Dutchman on highly regarded ABC sitcom "The 'Slap' Maxwell Story"
Appeared as a regular on "Homeroom," a short-lived ABC sitcom
Co-starred with James Garner in "Decoration Day" (NBC), a "Hallmark Hall of Fame" presentation
Appeared as a regular on acclaimed NBC drama series "I'll Fly Away"
Landed pivotal role of Moses the clock man in the Coen brothers' "The Hudsucker Proxy"
Returned to series TV as regular on CBS sitcom "The Gregory Hines Show"
Landed regular role on NBC sic-fi drama "The Others"
Appeared regularly on short-lived "The Michael Richards Show" (NBC)
Played recurring role of Chaplain Matthew Turner on "JAG" (CBS)
Landed recurring role on ABC comedy series "The Drew Carey Show"
Cast opposite Ben Stiller in adventure comedy "Night at the Museum"
Appeared in direct-to-video family feature "The Search for Santa Paws"
Acted in feature film reboot of "The Muppets"
Played Master Tinkerer in fantasy adventure "Oz the Great and Powerful" opposite James Franco in title role