Phylicia Rashad

One of the best-loved matriarchs in television history, Phylicia Rashad (known as Phylicia Ayers-Allen prior to her 1985 marriage to NFL star turned sportscaster Ahmad Rashad) made her Broadway debut playing a munchkin in the original 1975 production of "The Wiz." Following this up with a small role in the musical company of the Tony Award-winning smash hit, "Dreamgirls," Rashad segued into television in the early 1980s. Though her first big break came playing Courtney Wright on the daytime soap "One Life to Live" (ABC, 1968- ), it was her breakthrough role as no-nonsense matriarch Clair Huxtable on the landmark sitcom "The Cosby Show" (NBC, 1984-1992) that forever changed her life and added her to the long list of beloved TV moms, a la June Cleaver and Carol Brady. Though that role went on to overshadow the rest of her career, Rashad worked steadily after the end of "The Cosby Show," including a reteaming with Bill Cosby on "Cosby" (CBS 1996-2000).