PERSONAL: Original name, David Adkins; born November 10, 1956, in Benton Harbor, MI; son of Donald (a Baptist minister) and Louise Adkins; married, 1985; wife’s name Meredith (divorced, 1992); children: Paige, Royce. Education: Attended University of Denver.
ADDRESSES: Agent— Agency for the Performing Arts, 405 S. Beverly Dr., Beverly Hills, CA 90212.
CAREER: Actor and comedian; David and Goliath Production Co., Studio City, CA, founder. Appeared in television series, including role of Byron Lightfoot, The Redd Foxx Show, Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS), 1986; as cohost, Keep On Cruisin’, CBS, 1987; as Coach Walter Oakes, A Different World, National Broadcasting Company (NBC), 1987-91; as host, It’s Showtime at the Apollo, syndicated, 1989-91; as David Bryan, The Sinbad Show (also known as Sinbad), Fox, 1993-94; as host, Vibe, syndicated, 1997-98; in Hollywood Squares, syndicated, 1998; in The Remarkable Journey, 2000; and in Just for Laughs 2006. Appeared in television movies, including Club Med, American Broadcasting Companies (ABC), 1986; as Isaiah Turner in the title role, The Cherokee Kid, Home Box Office (HBO), 1996; as voice of “Hollywood Shuffle,” Ready to Run, 2000; and as Myron Larabee, Jingle All the Way, 2001. Guest star in episodes of numerous television series, including The Cosby Show; The Late Show; and Today; voice of Simpleton, “The Golden Goose,” and voice of the Frog Prince, “The Frog Prince,” both Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child, HBO, 1995; as Del, a recurring role, Cosby, 1998-99; as Professor LeCount, Moesha, 2000; as Odell Mason, Resurrection Blvd., 2002; and in Girlfriends. Also appeared in Star Search, syndicated;Comic Strip: Live, Fox;Comic Justice; and Instant Comedy with the Groundlings, FX Network. Appeared in numerous television specials, including “Take No Prisoners: Robert Townsend and His Partners in Crime II,” HBO Comedy Hour, HBO, 1988;Stand-up Comics Take a Stand!, syndicated, 1989;Motown Thirty: What’s Goin’ On!, CBS, 1990;A Laugh, a Tear, syndicated, 1990;America’s All-Star Tribute to Oprah Winfrey, ABC, 1990;Sinbad and Friends All the Way Live... Almost, ABC, 1991; “Sinbad: Brain Damaged,” HBO Comedy Hour, HBO, 1991;Muhammad Ali’s Fiftieth Birthday Celebration, ABC, 1992;The 10th Annual Montreal Comedy Festival, 1992; (as host) Back to School ’92, 1992;Comic Relief V, HBO, 1992;Family Night, 1992;Free to Laugh: A Comedy and Music Special for Amnesty International, 1992;The All New Circus of the Stars and Side Show XVII, 1992;Disney’s Countdown to Kid’s Day (also known as Countdown to Kid’s Day), The Disney Channel, 1993;New Year’s Eve ’94, 1993; “Sinbad Live from the Paramount—Afros and Bellbottoms,” HBO Comedy Hour, HBO, 1993;The Winans’ Real Meaning of Christmas, syndicated, 1993; (in archive footage) Mo’ Funny: Black Comedy in America, 1993;Comic Relief VI, HBO, 1994;Fantasies of the Stars, NBC, 1994;A Comedy Salute to Andy Kaufman, NBC, 1995; (as Aric) “Aliens for Breakfast,” McDonald’s Family Theatre, ABC, 1995;Planet Hollywood Comes Home, ABC, 1995; (as host) Sinbad’s Summer Jam: ’70s Soul Music Festival, HBO, 1995;Celebrate the Dream: 50 Years of Ebony, ABC, 1996;CityKids All Star Club, ABC, 1996;Nissan Presents a Celebration of America’s Music, ABC, 1996; “Sinbad—Son of a Preacher Man,” HBO Comedy Hour, HBO, 1996; (as host) Sinbad’s Dynamite New Year’s Eve 1997 (also known as New Year’s Eve Live in Las Vegas and Fox’s New Year’s Eve Live), Fox, 1996; (as host) Sinbad’s Summer Jam II: ’70s Soul Music Festival, HBO, 1996;The HBO Comedy Arts Weekend Highlight Show, HBO, 1997; (as host) Sinbad’s Summer Jam 4: ’70’s Soul Music Festival, HBO, 1998;Redd Foxx: The E! True Hollywood Story, 1999; (as master of ceremonies) Miss Universe Pageant, 2000;Heroes of Black Comedy (miniseries), 2002; and Inside TV Land: African Americans in Television, 2002. Appeared in televised award presentations, including The 3rd Annual Soul Train Music Awards, syndicated, 1989;The 16th Annual Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame, syndicated, 1989;The 22nd Annual NAACP Image Awards, NBC, 1990;The 17th Annual People’s Choice Awards, CBS, 1991;The 24th Annual NAACP Image Awards, NBC, 1992; (as host) The 19th Annual Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame, 1992;The 6th Annual Soul Train Music Awards, 1992;The Essence Awards, 1992; (as presenter) The 45th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, 1993; (as host) Soul Train Comedy Awards, 1993;The 1993 Billboard Music Awards, 1993;The 7th Annual American Comedy Awards, 1993; (as presenter) The Walt Disney Company Presents the American Teacher Awards, The Disney Channel, 1993; (as host) The 15th Annual CableACE Awards, 1994;The 26th Annual NAACP Image Awards, 1994; (as host) The Essence Awards, 1994;The Soul Train 25th Anniversary Hall of Fame Special, 1995; (as presenter) Screen Actors Guild Awards, 1995; (as cohost) The 25th Anniversary Essence Awards, 1995;The 10th Annual Soul Train Music Awards, 1996; (as host) The 1996 Essence Awards, 1996; (as host) The 23rd Annual American Music Awards, 1996;The 27th Annual NAACP Image Awards, 1996; (as presenter) The Blockbuster Entertainment Awards, 1996; (as presenter) The 28th NAACP Image Awards, 1997; (as host) The 10th Essence Awards, 1997; (as host, The 24th Annual American Music Awards, 1997; (as host) The ShoWest Awards, Turner Network Television (TNT), 1997; and (as himself) 26th Annual American Music Awards, 1998. Creator and executive producer of the television series The Sinbad Show, Fox, 1993-94; executive producer of the television movie The Cherokee Kid, HBO, 1996; executive producer of television specials, including Sinbad and Friends All the Way Live... Almost, ABC, 1991; “Sinbad: Brain Damaged,” HBO Comedy Hour, HBO, 1991; “Sinbad Live from the Paramount—Afros and Bellbottoms,” HBO Comedy Hour, HBO, 1993;Sinbad’s Summer Jam: ’70s Soul Music Festival, HBO, 1995; “Sinbad—Son of a Preacher Man,” HBO Comedy Hour, HBO, 1996; and Sinbad’s Summer Jam II: ’70s Soul Music Festival, HBO, 1996. Actor in films, including That’s Adequate, 1989; as Andre Krimm, Necessary Roughness, Paramount, 1991;Time Out: The Truth about HIV, AIDS, and You, 1992; as Otto, Coneheads (also known as Coneheads: The Movie), Paramount, 1993; as Malik, The Meteor Man, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1993; as Kevin Franklin/Derek Bond, Houseguest, Buena Vista, 1995; as Sam Simms (and executive producer), First Kid, Buena Vista, 1996; as voice of Riley, Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco (also known as Incredible Journey), Buena Vista, 1996; as Myron Larabee, Jingle All the Way, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1996; as Mr. Wheat, Good Burger, Paramount, 1997; as orderly, Crazy as Hell, 2001; as voice of Raven, Hansel & Gretel, 2002; as security guard, Treading Water, 2002; and as Leila’s uncle, Leila, 2006. Executive producer of the films Leila and Coda, both 2006. Appeared in the video game I Was a Network Star, 2006. Host of a morning radio show for KHHT-FM, Los Angeles, CA, beginning 2002. Military service: U.S. Air Force, c. 1978-1982.
AWARDS, HONORS: Candle Award, Morehouse College, 1994; named artist of the year, Harvard University, 1997; two Image Awards, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, for Summer Jam Weekend shows.
Brain Damaged (comedy album), Polygram, 1990. Sinbad and Friends All the Way Live... Almost (television special), American Broadcasting Companies (ABC), 1991.
(With David Ritz) Sinbad’s Guide to Life: Because I Know Everything, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 1997.
Also creator and writer for the television series The Sinbad Show, 1993.
SIDELIGHTS: Sinbad is a popular mainstream comedian in American culture. The son of a Midwestern minister, Sinbad has always emphasized being funny rather than being profane in his comedy routines. His starring roles in films have often been in such family-friendly fare as First Kid and Jingle All the Way, and when he created his own sitcom, The Sinbad Show, it featured a single black man acting as a father and role model to two foster children. Sinbad consciously plotted the show this way to counteract the usual stereotypes of African-American men in the American media. “If I were a non-Black person and I watch what you see about us on TV and I watch constantly what you see in movies and I constantly watch the news, I would be scared of us also,” he told an interviewer from Jet.“What’s happening now in America is that this myth that African Americans do not take care of their children is perceived as reality— and that’s not true.”
The six-foot-five-inch Sinbad originally wanted to be a basketball player, but a knee injury suffered while playing for the University of Denver ended that plan. He dropped out four weeks before graduation (“I was still going through my militant, ‘make a statement’ phase and didn’t want a degree from the White man,” he told Aldore Collier of Ebony) and joined the Air Force, hoping to be sent overseas to live somewhere exotic. Instead he was assigned to a base in Wichita, Kansas. Sinbad has since declared joining the Air Force to have been a “cosmic mistake. The Air Force was three and a half years of torture, me going [absent without leave] and impersonating officers and finally getting kicked out—check this out—for parking my car in the wrong position,” he told David Ritz of Essence in 1992. But the Air Force did give Sinbad his start in comedy, in base talent shows. After leaving the Air Force he opened for musicians in the Wichita area, then went on what he has dubbed his “Poverty Tour,” taking buses to clubs across the country and talking his way into gigs. In 1984 Sinbad got his big break with an appearance on the television show Star Search. After making it to the finals there, Sinbad came to the attention of another family-oriented African-American comic, Bill Cosby, who helped to get him a role on the Cosby Show spin-off A Different World. That role propelled Sinbad into a high-profile gig hosting the series Showtime at the Apollo, and soon he was able to go on a real comedy tour and to launch his own series.
In 1997, Sinbad published his first book, Sinbad’s Guide to Life: Because I Know Everything. The book is a spoof of the ever-popular self-help genre, and in the course of the book Sinbad makes clear that as an awkward preacher’s kid and now as someone who has been divorced, he doesn’t really know everything after all.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES
Contemporary Black Biography, Volume 16, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1997.
St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture, five volumes, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 2000.
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, April 2, 1999, Sonia Murray, interview with Sinbad, p. Q4.
Arizona Daily Star (Tucson, AZ), November 14, 2001, Cathalena E. Burch, interview with Sinbad, p. E1.
Arizona Republic (Phoenix, AZ), May 6, 1999, Seth Landau, interview with Sinbad, p. 6; November 15, 2001, Sean L. McCarthy, profile of Sinbad, p. 24.
Billboard, August 16, 1990, Janine McAdams, “Sinbad Anchors Comedy with Music on New Disk,” p. 23.
Black Collegian, October, 1999, Janette M. Millin, “Sinbad Keeping the Funk Alive,” p. 26.
Broadcasting & Cable, October 27, 1997, Joe Schlosser, review of Vibe, p. 24; January 19, 1998, Joe Schlosser, “The Big Guys Battle in Late Night: The Tall Talents of Sinbad, Keenen and Now Magic Square Off in Syndication,” pp. 25-26.
Current Biography, February, 1997, “Sinbad,” pp. 39-42.
Detroit News, October 5, 2001, interview with Sinbad, p. 1.
Ebony, April, 1990, Aldore Collier, interview with Sinbad, pp. 104-105; June, 1997, Aldore Collier, interview with Sinbad, pp. 84-88.
Entertainment Weekly, September 24, 1993, review of The Sinbad Show, pp. 78-79; May 23, 1997, Megan Harlan, review of Sinbad’s Guide to Life: Because I Know Everything, p. 60; May 30, 1997, Chris Nashaway, “Go Figure,” p. 17.
Essence, November, 1992, David Ritz, interview with Sinbad, pp. 78-82.
Florida Times Union, October 18, 2002, Ivette M. Yee, interview with Sinbad, p. WE-15.
Grand Rapids Press (Grand Rapids, MI), December 15, 2002, interview with Sinbad, p. F11.
Jet, February 12, 1990, Aldore Collier, “Sinbad Tells Why He Keeps His Comedy Clean,” pp. 60-61; November 22, 1993, interview with Sinbad, pp. 56-58; July 13, 1998, “HBO Debuts the Annual Sinbad’s Summer Jam 4: ’70’s Soul Music Festival,” pp. 58-62.
Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service, September 15, 1993, Bob Curtright, interview with Sinbad, p. 0915K3568; August 28, 1996, Terry Lawson, interview with Sinbad, p. 828K5165.
Lansing State Journal (Lansing, MI), July 13, 2001, Jack Ebling, “Sinbad’s Local Stop Wasn’t for Laughs,” p. D1.
Los Angeles Times, April 23, 1997, Candace A. Wedlan, interview with Sinbad, p. E2.
Mediaweek, November 3, 1997, review of Vibe, p. 9; February 4, 2002, Jeremy Murphy and Katy Bach-man, “L.A.’s Latest Pirate Radio,” p. 10.
Parade, September 11, 1994, Wallace Terry, interview with Sinbad, pp. 28-29.
People, October 18, 1993, David Hiltbrand, review of The Sinbad Show, p. 13; December 8, 1997, Terry Kelleher, review of Vibe, p. 18.
Sarasota Herald Tribune, January 21, 2000, Helena Finnegan, “Sinbad Promotes Hilarious Family Values,” p. 6.
Seattle Times, October 15, 1998, profile of Sinbad, p. G12.
Top 40 Airplay Monitor, February 1, 2002, Marc Schiffman and Dana Hall, “Sinbad’s New Voyage,” p. 3.
Travel Weekly, March 20, 1997, Kristin O’Meara, “Island Officials Anticipate a Throng for Sinbad Soul Festival,” pp. C13-C14.
TV Guide, September 25, 1993, Jeff Jarvis, review of The Sinbad Show, p. 47; November 27, 1993, Claudia Dreifus, “Original Sinbad,” pp. 34-35.
Variety, January 6, 1992, Carole Kucharewicz, review of Sinbad and Friends: All the Way Live... Almost, p. 58; October 27, 1997, Cynthia Littleton, “Sinbad Feels Good ‘Vibe’ from Latenight Jones,” p. 27; January 19, 1998, Cynthia Littleton, “Col Strikes Chord with Sinbad for Vibe Redux,” p. 69.*