Comedian & Actor

“If you're not happy before you're successful, you're going to be miserable when you do become successful because all your problems just get magnified.”

Comedian Sinbad rose to fame in the 1980s and 1990s with A Different World and The Sinbad Show.

Early Life and Career

Born David Adkins on November 10, 1956, in Benton Harbor, Michigan, Sinbad is one of six children and grew up in a religious household. His father, Donald, is a minister. 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, but his early days were financially stressful, and he found himself sleeping in his car at times. 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.”

Freedom and Career

In the early 1980s, Sinbad caught his first big break as a contestant on Star Search, winning 10 times on the show. Before long, Sinbad was an in-demand performer and landed a role on TV sitcom 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 from 1987 to 1991.

In addition to acting, Sinbad continued to perform his stand-up comedy. He became known for his offbeat yet clean approach to humor. As he explained to Ebony, he has been called “a middle-of-the-road comic. Some of them compare me to Bill Cosby because I don't curse. I take that as a compliment, but my style is wilder than his.”

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. The show's premise borrowed a bit from Sinbad's own life, as he was an active father himself, sharing joint custody of his two children from his first marriage.


Over the years, Sinbad 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.

In Recent Years

While his popularity may have peaked in the 1990s, Sinbad remains a popular live performer, landing a number of stand-up gigs each year. Sinbad also continues to appear on television and in films.

He lent his voice to the animated series Slacker Cats and 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. Divorced in 1992, he and Meredith remarried in 2002.

Sinbad has been struggling financially as of late, filing for bankruptcy in 2013. He claimed to be more than $11 million in debt, according to, most of which is from unpaid back taxes.

Quick Facts

Birth Date:
November 10, 1956

  • Sinbad’s breakthrough role was on The Cosby Show spinoff, A Different World, which he starred on from 1988 until 1991. He played Coach Walter Oakes in the series. He also began getting recognition for various HBO comedy specials in the early 1990s, and eventually landed his own comedy series, The Sinbad Show, which was on from 1993 until 1994.
  • Sinbad was part of the United States Air Force, where he served as a boom operator. However, he was dishonorably discharged in 1981 for continuously “going AWOL” Sinbad has said that he was in “denial” over not making the Air Force’s basketball team, which is what led to him being M.I.A. so often.
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Last Updated

February 2021

Original Published Date

December 2020

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