Then + Now: The Cast of ‘Family Matters’
Originally a spin-off of ‘Perfect Strangers,’ ‘Family Matters’ told the tale of an extended family in Chicago, Illinois, and their meddlesome neighbor Steve Urkel.
Thanks in large part to Urkel, whose nerdy clumsiness and catchphrases (“Did I do that?”) made him into a pop culture phenomenon, ‘Family Matters’ delivered solid ratings for ABC between 1989 and 1997. A switch to CBS in 1998 was less successful and eventually led to the series getting canceled.
Sadly, some cast members, like Rosetta LeNoire (Mother Winslow) and Michelle Thomas (Myra), have passed away. But most of the cast is still alive and kicking today. See what they’re up to now below.
Reginald VelJohnson (Carl Winslow)
Then: Reginald VelJohnson was father and police officer Carl Winslow on ‘Family Matters.’ VelJohnson had already portrayed cops in ‘Die Hard,’ ‘Turner & Hutch’ and ‘Ghostbusters,’ among other movies and TV shows. He also appeared as Carl on an episode of ‘Perfect Strangers’ opposite JoMarie Payton (Harriette Winslow), which led to the pair getting their own show.
Now: These days, VelJohnson is getting a bit old to play a credible cop. But that hasn’t slowed his career down, and he’s been playing recurring roles as a newspaper reporter on ‘Hart of Dixie’ and a reverend on ‘Mike and Molly.’ He also spoofed his past characters with a recent Funny or Die short where he proposed a ‘Family Matters’/’Taken’ mash-up movie.
Jaleel White (Steve Urkel)
Then: It’s hard to imagine, but Jaleel White wasn’t even part of the ‘Family Matters’ original cast. Steve Urkel joined the show midway through the first season and quickly became a larger and larger part of the sitcom’s storyline. White also provided the voice of Sonic the Hedgehog in three different animated series based on the video game in the ’90s.
Now: White has recently popped up on ‘Psych,’ ‘NCIS’ and as a contestant on ‘Dancing With the Stars.’ He was also cast in the animated adventure ‘Guardians of Luna.’ Since 2012, White’s been host of the game show ‘Total Blackout.’
Kellie Shanygne Williams (Laura Winslow)
Then: At the age of 13, Kellie Williams played Winslow’s daughter and object of Urkel’s affection, Laura. It was her screen debut, and before the show she was a model. After ‘Family Matters,’ Williams was in the sitcom ‘What About Joan.’
Now: Williams hosted the Style Network show ‘Clean House’ in 2009 and also appeared in the film ‘Steppin: The Movie’ that year. She got hitched to Hannibal Jackson in 2009 and has two children.
Darius McCrary (Eddie Winslow)
Then: The role of eldest Winslow child Eddie went to Darius McCrary. Already a successful child actor, McCrary had previously appeared in ‘Big Shots’ and ‘Mississippi Burning.’ In 1997, he portrayed Muhammad Ali in the TV movie ‘Don King: Only in America.’
Now: After a three-season run as Malcolm Winters on ‘The Young and the Restless,’ McCrary returned to prime time with a recurring role on the FX series ‘Anger Management.’
JoMarie Payton (Harriette Winslow)
Then: JoMarie Payton originated quick-witted matriarch Harriette Winslow on ‘Perfect Strangers’ and wound up with her own show. Payton had also appeared on ‘Silver Spoons,’ ‘The New Odd Couple’ and ‘227.’
Now: Payton left ‘Family Matters’ halfway through the show’s final season and was replaced by actress Judyann Elder. Since then, Payton has appeared on everything from ‘Desperate Housewives’ to the Tyler Perry series ‘Meet the Browns.’ She is also one of the stars of the sitcom ‘The Rev.’
Telma Hopkins (Rachel Crawford)
Then: Hopkins played Rachel Crawford, Harriette’s sister who moves in with the Winslows after her husband dies. Hopkins first tasted fame in the ’70s as part of the vocal group Tony Orlando and Dawn. She went from singing to acting in the ’80s and was a series regular on the Tom Hanks sitcom ‘Bosom Buddies’ as well as ‘Gimme a Break!’
Now: Hopkins plays Marilyn Parsons on the sitcom ‘Are We There Yet.’ It’s her first regular TV role since starring on ‘Half & Half’ between 2002 and 2006.
Bryton James (Richie Crawford)
Then: James start playing Richie Crawford, Rachel’s daughter, in the second season of ‘Family Matters,’ when the character miraculously aged from an infant to a three-year-old. As a three-year-old in real life, it was his screen debut.
Now: Since 2004, James has played Devon Hamilton on ‘The Young and the Restless.’ He also provides the voice for Virgil Hawkins on the animated series ‘Young Justice.’ In 2011, he played a warlock on ‘The Vampire Diaries.’ We always knew there was something weird about Richie.
Jaimee Foxworth (Judy Winslow)
Then: For the first five seasons of ‘Family Matters,’ Jaimee Foxworth played youngest Winslow daughter Judy. Then the character just disappeared without any on-screen explanation ever being offered. (Perhaps she fell into Urkel’s time machine?)
Now: Around 2000, Foxworth appeared in a series of pornographic movies. She performed under the stage name Crave, and it wasn’t until years later that the woman in the video was linked to the girl who used to be on ‘Family Matters.’ Thanks to her new notoriety, Foxworth has appeared on the reality shows ‘Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew’ and ‘Life After.’
Shawn Harrison (Waldo Geraldo Faldo)
Then: You surely remember Waldo Geraldo Faldo, Eddie’s dim-witted buddy who was played by Shawn Harrison. Prior to ‘Family Matters,’ Harrison had been on episodes of ‘Punky Brewster’ and ‘Hill Street Blues.’
Now: Harrison’s other notable TV role was as Peaches on ‘Girlfriends.’ (Cartoon fans will also remember him as the voice of Timber Wolf and other characters on ‘Legion of Superheroes.’) After a five-year hiatus from acting, Harrison joined the movie cast of ‘Silent but Deadly.’