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The 1980s - 1990s was a glorious time for sitcoms with a number of influential shows capturing the country’s attention and introducing us to some of the more iconic television characters of all time. One show that stood out from the pack was “Family Matters,” a series centered around the life and times of the Winslows, a middle-class African-American family who lived in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois.
Created by William Bickley and Michael Warren, “Family Matters” was a spin-off of the ABC sitcom “Perfect Strangers” and had a cast that included Jaleel White (Steve Urkel), Reginald VelJohnson (Carl Winslow), Jo Marie Payton (Harriet Winslow), Darius McCrary (“Eddie” Winslow), Kellie Shanygne Williams (Laura Winslow), Telma Hopkins (Rachel Baines-Crawford), Jaimee Foxworth (“Judy” Winslow), Bryton McClure (“Richie” Crawford), and Shawn Harrison (Waldo Faldo).
Airing for nine seasons — from September 22, 1989 to July 17, 1998 — the show was the second longest-running non-animated U.S. sitcom with a predominantly African-American cast at the end of its run, making it one of the most successful glimpses at the black family structure in the history of television.
In celebration of the 30th anniversary of the show first airing, REVOLT did a little investigative work and tracked down the key cast members of “Family Matters” and give an update on what they’re all up to three decades later. Take a look below.
1. Jaleel White
While originally intended to be centered around the Winslow family, the breakout star of “Family Matters” was ultimately Jaleel White, who played the role of Steve Urkel, the Winslows’ brilliant, yet clumsy and socially awkward next door neighbor. At the height of the show’s popularity, White was considered one of the faces of television and a pop culture phenomenon. Life after “Family Matters” has been kind to White, who recently reprised his role as Steve for the animated television series “Scooby-Doo and Guess Who?” and more of his most recent acting credits also include appearances on “Historical Roasts,” “Raven’s Home,” and the 2018 film The 15:17 to Paris. White has one daughter, Samaya, with ex-girlfriend Bridget Hardy and currently lives in Los Angeles.
2. Reginald VelJohnson
Appearing in all nine seasons of “Family Matters” as Carl Winslow, a Chicago policeman and stern, but doting father, Reginald VelJohnson was one of the pillars of the show during its illustrious run. Regarded as a positive reflection of fathers in black America, VelJohnson’s role as Carl was praised and has been mentioned among the best fictional fathers in television to date. After “Family Matters’” final season, the actor delved into theater work, as well as kept his face in the public eye with cameos in various films and television shows over the past two decades. Currently cast as the voice of God in the animated television series “Lazor Wulf,” VelJohnson has recently scored roles in the films 3Below: Tales of Arcadia, Funny Story, The Prayer Box, and Avengers: Endgame.
3. Kellie Shanygne Jackson
Born Kellie Shanygne Williams, the actress who played Laura Winslow on the series, is largely remembered for being the disinterested love interest of Steve Urkel, whom she ultimately got engaged to in the show’s final season. After the end of its run, Williams appeared in the ABC television show “What About Joan” for two seasons and briefly filled in as a host for Niecy Nash on the Style Network program “Clean House.” Williams currently lives in Los Angeles and is married Hannibal Jackson, who she has two children with. Her daughter’s name is Hannah Belle Jackson and her son is John Ervin Jackson.
4. Jo Marie Payton
After wowing audiences with her role as Harriet Winslow in the ‘80s sitcom “Perfect Strangers,” Payton was cast as the lead character of her own series. Appearing in all of the series’ nine seasons, Harriet became one of the iconic fictional mothers in sitcom history and was an integral cog in the show’s success. In the years since “Family Matters’” end, Payton has stayed active with numerous appearances in television and film. Providing the voice for Suga Mama Proud on the animated Disney Channel show “The Proud Family,” Payton earned an NAACP Image Award nomination for Outstanding Performance in a Youth/ Children’s Series/ Special in 2005. Her most recent film credit is her role as Ms. Johanna in Conundrum: Secrets Among Friends, which is set to premiere in 2020. Payton is currently a cast member on “Mann & Wife,” where she plays Lorraine Mann.
5. Darius Jaren McCrary
McCrary appeared on “Family Matters” as Edward “Eddie” Winslow, the oldest child of Carl and Harriette Winslow. This role is what made him one of the most beloved and recognizable sitcom stars of the ‘90s. Following the end of the series, McCrary made a number of appearances in film and television. Some of his more recent credits came via his portrayal of R&B legend Gerald Levert in “Love Under New Management: The Miki Howard Story” and his role as Otis Leecan in the television drama “Star.”
6. Telma Louise Hopkins
Hopkins was already a seasoned actor at the time of her casting as Rachel Baines–Crawford, Harriet Winslow’s widowed younger sister and the owner of Rachel’s Place. Since her time on “Family Matters,” Hopkins has racked up the most impressive film and television resume of her cast-mates, most recently appearing in the film Running Out Of Time, as well as the television series’ “Dead to Me,” “The Loud House,” and “Family Reunion.”
7. Shawn Harrison
Playing the role of Waldo Faldo — Eddie Winslow’s aloof best friend — for six of the show’s nine seasons, Harrison’s comedic relief quickly made him a fan favorite among viewers. While his acting credits have been few and far in recent years, he continued to pop up on the small screen on various occasions with appearances as “Peaches” on the UPN sitcom “Girlfriends” and several other sitcoms such as “Moesha.”
8. Jaimee Monae Foxworth
Foxworth played the role of Judy Winslow, the youngest child of Carl and Harriet Winslow, in the show’s first four seasons. However, one of the greatest mysteries in sitcom history is her sudden disappearance from the show without explanation. Following her departure from the show, Foxworth formed an R&B group called S.H.E. with her two sisters and they releasing their debut album, 3’s a Charm, on July 1, 1997 through Shaquille O’Neal’s T.W.IsM. Records. She currently lives in Los Angeles and is the mother a 10 year-old son, Michael Douglas Shaw, Jr.
9. Bryton Eric McClure
One of the first additions to the “Family Matters” cast was Bryton McClure, who played the role of Richie Crawford, the son of Rachel Crawford. His next big role came in 2004, when he was cast as Devon Hamilton on daytime soap opera “The Young and the Restless,” earning a Daytime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series years later in 2019.