Raven Symone

Raven Symone is known to millions of TV viewers from her years as Olivia

on the long-running NBC sitcom "The Cosby Show" and for playing Nicole

on ABC's "Hangin' with Mr. Cooper."

But the young actress is also a singer who has performed the national

anthem at sporting events and has just issued her second LP, featuring

rap and soul music.

Raven Symone Peerman was born Dec. 10, 1985, in Atlanta. She started

modeling at age 2 and got jobs in local print ads. Symone's family moved

to New York after the Ford Modeling Agency expressed interest in her

portfolio.

Symone began starring in TV commercials for such products as Ritz Crackers,

Cool Whip and Jell-O. When she was 3, Symone auditioned for a role in the

Bill Cosby movie "Ghost Dad," which Sidney Poitier directed. Though she

didn't get the role, Cosby tapped her to join his TV show as his

granddaughter.

She also appeared in Alex Haley's miniseries "Queen" and was nominated

for the NAACP's Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a TV Series.

Her next regular role was in "Hangin' with Mr. Cooper." Then, at age 5,

Symone became the youngest person ever to sign a recording contract with

MCA Records. Her debut, Here's to New Dreams, mixed pop, soul and

rap, and featured the single "That's What Little Girls Are Made Of."

Symone continued her TV appearances on "Sesame Street," "A Different World"

and "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air" (with Will Smith). She became the youngest

host in the history of NBC's "Friday Night Videos" and also introduced

clips on the network's "Saturday Morning Videos."

She has also been involved in many philanthropic activities for such

organizations as the National Safe Kids Campaign, the Children's Museum

of Manhattan and D.A.R.E. Symone received the First Annual Juvenile

Products Manufacturers Association Award for contributions to the assistance

of needy children.

Last year, she co-starred with Eddie Murphy in the theatrical remake of

"Doctor Dolittle." She also headlined the "Kids Jam USA Tour."

Earlier this year, Symone issued Undeniable on PolyGram Records.

In addition to the single "With a Child's Heart," the disc includes such

tracks as "Hip Hoppers," "I Can Get Down" and "Lean on Me." The album

mixes ballads, pop, soul and rap music.

Other birthdays on Friday: Chad Stuart (Chad and Jeremy), 56; Chris "Ace"

Kefford (the Move), 53; Ralph Tavares (Tavares), 51; Jessica Cleaves

(Friends of Distinction), 51; Nia Peeples, 38; J Mascis, 34; Timothy

Christian Riley (Tony! Toni! Toné!), 33; and Scot Alexander

(Dishwalla), 28.