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Phylicia Rashad, an African and Native American actress, was born on this date in 1948.
Born in Houston, TX, her father was a full-blooded Native American (Cherokee). She graduated from Howard University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. After college, Rashad pursued an acting career in New York, where she was featured in "The Cherry Orchard," "Weep Not For Me," and "Dreamgirls." She also worked in Broadway’s "Jelly’s Last Jam" and "Blues for an Alabama Sky" in Atlanta. Her first television appearance was as a 1976 guest appearance on "Delvecchio." Two years later, she appeared as a Munchkin in the film "The Wiz." From 1983 to 1984, she portrayed Courtney Wright on the daytime soap, "One Life to Live."
But her characterization of a successful attorney and mother, Clair Huxtable, on "The Cosby Show" catapulted her to worldwide TV fame. After "The Cosby Show," Rashad appeared in the television movies "The Babysitter’s Seduction" and "The Possession Of Michael D." In 1996, she portrayed Bill Cosby’s wife again in the television show "Cosby" from 1996 to 2000. Rashad has appeared in such films as "Once Upon A Time When We Were Colored," "Loving Jezebel," and "The Visit." She starred in and produced the television movie "The Old Settler," which co-starred her sister Debbie Allen.
She has been married three times: to dentist William Bowles, with whom she has a son, Billy; Victor Willis, former lead singer for the Village People, from 1978 to 1980; and television sports announcer/former football player Ahmad Rashad from 1985 to 2001, with whom she has a daughter Condola Phylea.
Rashad taught drama at her alma mater, Howard University. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She spent one year in Mexico growing up, and as a result, she speaks English, Spanish fluently, and Portuguese.
In 2004, she became the first African American actress to win the "Best Leading Actress" Award at the Tony Awards, winning for her role in the play, "A Raisin in the Sun."