Ranked by Comedy Central as one of the “100 Greatest Standups of All Time,” actor and comedian Sinbad has had audiences laughing for over three decades.
Born David Adkins, Sinbad is one of six children and grew up in a religious household. At six feet five inches tall, Adkins made an impressive figure on the basketball court, and his first career ambition was to play professionally.
Adkins ended up playing basketball for the University of Denver, but he quit his studies just weeks before his graduation in 1978. He ended up in the U.S. Air Force, where he eventually wowed audiences with his comedic skills at a talent show. After leaving the service, Adkins pursued a career as a stand-up comedian. Along the way, he took the stage name Sinbad, explaining to Ebony magazine, “Sinbad was a leader . . . . He wasn’t the biggest guy, but he was clever and resourceful.”
In the early 1980s, he caught his first big break as a contestant on Star Search, winning 10 times on the show. Before long, he was an in- demand performer and landed a role on the The Redd Foxx Show, playing Foxx’s son on the short-lived series. He then landed a recurring role on The Cosby Show spinoff, A Different World, which ran 1987-1991. In addition to acting, he continued to perform his stand-up comedy. He became known for his offbeat yet clean approach to humor.
Sinbad went on to star his own sitcom, The Sinbad Show, in 1993. On the series, he played a single foster father to two children. Over the years, he also made a number of film appearances, costarring with Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1996 holiday comedy Jingle All the Way and with Phil Hartman in Houseguest (1995). Around this time, he also wrote Sinbad’s Guide to Life: Because I Know Everything.
Sinbad remains a popular live performer, landing a number of stand-up gigs each year. He also continues to appear on television and in films and lent his voice to the animated series Slacker Cats. He was a competitor on Celebrity Apprentice in 2010. In 2011, he had his own reality show with Sinbad: It’s Just Family, focused on his domestic life with his wife, Meredith, daughter Paige and son Royce.