WTF Happened to Sinbad?

Sinbad was one of the biggest comedy stars of the nineties, only to inexplicably vanish from cameras with a few exceptions. WTF happend?

Last Updated on November 2, 2023

If you’re a child of the nineties, chances are you grew up loving Sinbad. Also known as David Atkins, Sinbad began his comedy career as a contestant on Star Search before nabbing his breakout role on the Cosby Show spin-off, A Different World, where he played Coach Walter Oakes; he served as a mentor to the main cast, who all played students at the fictional Hillman College. His distinctive look made him instantly identifiable, and it wasn’t long before he started showing up in movies, with roles in Necessary Roughness and Coneheads.

His career was unusual because most people went to TV after their movie careers cooled down. For Sinbad, it was the opposite. His solo TV show, The Sinbad Show, was a flop, but shortly afterwards, his movie career went into high gear, with him appearing in a string of hit movies. His biggest hit was Houseguest opposite the late Phil Hartman, but he also co-starred with Arnold Schwarzenegger in Jingle All The Way and made a well-received Disney film called First Kid.

Oddly, after three successful films, Sinbad’s career cooled around 2000, and no one knows why. In this episode of WTF Happened to this Celebrity, we dig into the inexplicable cooling of this terrific comic actor’s career (including his association with the Mandela effect due to a movie he was never in), as well as shining a light on some of the health challenges he’s faced as the beloved star recovers from a debilitating stroke.

Do you have fond memories of Sinbad? Let us know in the comments!

About the Author

Chris Bumbray began his career with JoBlo as the resident film critic (and James Bond expert) way back in 2007, and he has stuck around ever since, being named editor-in-chief in 2021. A voting member of the CCA and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, you can also catch Chris discussing pop culture regularly on CTV News Channel.