Bill Cobbs, Actor in ‘The West Wing,’ ‘The Bodyguard,’ Dies at 90

Bill Cobbs, a prolific character actor who had a 50-year career with almost 200 film and TV credits, died Tuesday at his home in Riverside, Calif., his rep confirmed. He was 90.

Among his most notable roles were on Season 3 of “The West Wing,” where his character Alan Tatum visits the White House with his son. In the Coen brothers “The Hudsucker Proxy,” Cobbs played Moses, the clock man who delivers the prologue at the beginning of the film.

Cobbs played manager Devaney in “The Bodyguard” starring Whitney Houston.

His first television credit was 1975’s “Vegetable Soup,” a New York public television educational series. He went on to appear in shows like “The Sopranos,” “Good Times,” “Sesame Street” and “My Wife and Kids.” He also won a Daytime Emmy Award for outstanding limited performance in a daytime program for the series “Dino Dana” in 2020.

In the “West Wing” episode, presidential personal aide Charlie Young tells Tatum that they had rediscovered a letter he had written when he was 9 years old to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

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He made his feature film debut in 1974’s “The Taking of Pelham One Two Three.” He later appeared in 1979’s “The Hitter,” 1984’s “Brother From Another Planet,” 1997’s “Air Bud,” “I Still Know What You Did Last Summer” and 2011’s “The Muppets.” He also played security guard Reginald in 2006’s “Night at the Museum” starring Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson.

Born in Cleveland, he served as an Air Force radar technician and worked other jobs before leaving for New York at the age of 36 to pursue acting. His first professional acting role was in “Ride a Black Horse” at the New York City-based theater company and workshop, Negro Ensemble Company. He later appeared in small theater productions, street theater, regional theater and at the Eugene O’Neill Theater.

Cobbs’ relative Thomas Cobbs, posted on Facebook to commemorate Bill Cobbs, calling him a “beloved partner, big brother, uncle, surrogate parent, godfather and friend.”

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

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