The Show “Family Matters”, Cast, Pictures, and Trivia!
This series is about a middle-class, African-American family living in Chicago, Illinois named the Winslows.
It also focuses heavily on their nerdy, next-door neighbor Steve Urkel, (Jaleel White) and his many escapades. Just a regular family living their lives, getting through difficult situations and dealing with something that most of us have at one time or another, an annoying neighbor that you can’t get rid of!
Carl Winslow (Reginald VelJohnson)-Carl is the head of the Winslow family, or “Big Kahuna” as he refers to it. Although when it comes to arguments with his wife, Harriette, (Jo Marie Payton) he is easily defeated. He is an officer in the Chicago Police Department, and is both dedicated and quite good at his job. He has three biological children, Eddie (Darius McCrary), Laura (Kellie Shanygne Williams) and Judy (Jaimee Foxworth). And later, he and his wife adopt a son named 3J (Orlando Brown). His mother, Estelle, (Rosetta LeNoire) lives with them, as does his sister-in-law Rachel, (Telma Hopkins) with her son, Richie (Bryton McClure). He is very fond of junk food and donuts, and is also known to be overweight because of this. He is constantly annoyed by his next-door neighbor, Steve Urkel, but despite this, Carl is often there for him in times of distress. He is a decent, hard-working man and loves his family deeply.
Harriette Winslow (Jo Marie Payton)-Harriette is the wife of Carl, a woman who is very strong-willed, as well as conservative. She is extremely proud to be a working woman and mother, and does both with enormous determination, no matter how difficult it sometimes is. She is very honest about her feelings, and is reluctant to tell people what they want to hear. She also tries to be very helpful and positive with her attitude and advice. Her favorite catchphrase is, “Carl”!
Eddie WInslow (Darius McCrary)-Eddie is the only biological son of Carl and Harriette, as well as the oldest. He tends to have trouble in high school, both academically and with irresponsible behavior, and often balks at his father’s rather strict rules. He desperately wants to be treated like an adult instead of a kid, but at the same time has little desire to act responsibly, as an adult should. He is very casual when it comes to romance of any kind, having many, many girlfriends throughout the series, although he does show some interest in finding true love and a serious relationship more as time goes by. He is a fan of the NFL and the NBA, and has at times had a serious problem with gambling.
Laura WInslow (Kellie Shanygne Williams)-Laura is the oldest daughter of Carl and Harriette, and of course is the single-minded obsession of Steve Urkel’s affection. Unlike her older brother, Laura has no problems in high school, she is popular, well-behaved and gets incredibly good grades. Her only real problems seem to be her need to do everything by herself and the fact that she is not always such a great judge of character, especially when it comes to her boyfriends. She is a hard worker, well-liked and a good person.
Judy Winslow (Jaimee Foxworth)-Judy is the youngest child of Harriette and Carl, though during the fifth season she basically disappears altogether with no explanation. During her time on the show however, she is basically just your average elementary and middle school type of child, and she seems to have a close relationship with her older sister, Laura.
Steve Urkel (Jaleel White)-Steve is the nerdy, annoying, next-door neighbor of the Winslow family. A highly intelligent, but extremely overbearing person who seems to have very little concern about whether he is irritating people or not. On the other hand, he is also incredibly kind, helpful and good-natured. Completely in love with Laura, he is constantly trying to win her love, no matter what he has to do to achieve this rather unlikely feat. He is an inventor who comes up with somewhat unbelievable ideas, most of all would be his machine that turns him into his cool, handsome alter ego, Stefan Urquelle, as well as other celebrities whose DNA he has somehow acquired. He cares for all of the Winslow family, in particular Carl, whom he fondly refers to as “Big Guy”.
Estelle Winslow (Rosetta LeNoire)-Estelle is Carl’s mother, as well as the mother of his four brothers, a woman who is very intelligent and wise, and is incredibly defensive of all of her grandchildren. This also includes Steve Urkel, upon whom she looked at as a grandson and loves. Urkel’s nickname for her was, “Estelle, my Belle”, and she loved his company, trying to get him to stay even when everyone else was wishing for him to go. Her catchphrase when Carl does something that she doesn’t like is, “Way to go, Carl”. And despite her age, she is constantly surprising everyone by keeping up with all the latest trends and pop culture.
Rachel Baines-Crawford (Telma Hopkins)-Rachel is the widowed younger sister of Harriette. She and her young son, Richie, moved in with her sister’s family shortly after her husband, Robert, died. She enjoys singing and writing, and is also somewhat of an entrepreneur, which is how she ends up opening a hangout for teenagers called, “Rachel’s Place”. Her trademark is unusual hats.
Richie Crawford (Bryton McClure)-Richie is the son of Rachel and her deceased husband. He died before ever getting to see his son, so after Richie and his mother move into the Winslow home, Carl fills the role of “father”. As Richie gets older, he comes to not only like but idolize Steve, so much so that he even calls him Uncle Steve. He later befriends an orphan named 3J, who is later adopted by Harriette and Carl.
3J (Jerry Jamal) Jameson-3J is a boy that Richie makes friends with, an orphan with a smart-mouth and a chip on his shoulder. Most of this is just to cover up the fact that he is lonely and just wants a family who will love him. His mother gave him up for adoption when he was born, and he lived with his aunt for a while, but she could no longer afford to keep him and he was then placed in a children’s shelter. Carl and Harriette adopt him, realizing that he just needs love and security.
Myra Monkhouse (Michelle Thomas)-Myra is a perky girl who is into polka music and nerdy boys. She is pretty and can be quite persistent when she wants something, especially Steve. Although Steve agrees to date her, it is under the condition that he is allowed to stay friends with Laura, and though this makes Myra feel as if she is competing with Laura at times, she agrees. Later after her and Steve start going steady, she becomes somewhat less aggressive with him and fits in with other people a bit more.
Waldo Faldo (Steve Harrison)-Waldo is the friend of Eddie WInslow and Steve Urkel, although at first he was seen more as a friend to Willie Fuffner, a notorious bully. However, after a period of time, Waldo eventually ended his friendship with Willie. He is not always the smartest person; in fact he is known to be more of an idiot than anything else, although he does seem to have a sense of morality. He has a sister named Quesadilla, and also dates Laura’s best friend Maxine.
This show is entertaining. It definitely has some outlandish storylines, but the actors who play the parts seem able to make it work. And though it does start to slow down, you still keep wanting the relationship between Laura and Steve to work out so that they get their happy ending. I give this show 6 out of 10.
Carl Winslow-Reginald VelJohnson
Harriette Winslow-Jo Marie Payton and Judyann Elder
Eddie Winslow-Darius McCrary
Laura Winslow-Kellie Shanygne Williams
Steve Urkel-Jaleel White
Estelle Winslow-Rosetta Noire
Rachel Baines-Crawford-Telma Hopkins
Judy Winslow-Jaimee Foxworth and Valerie Jones
Richie Crawford-Bryton McClure (a.k.a. Bryton James) and Joseph and Julius Wright
3J Jameson-Orlando Brown
Myra Monkhouse-Michelle Thomas
Waldo Faldo-Shawn Harrison
Maxine Johnson-Cherie Johnson
Lt. Lieu Murtaugh-Barry Jenner
Greta McClure-Tammy Townsend
Randy Beckett-Randy Josselyn
Commissioner Geiss-Dick O’Neill
Penny Peyser-Ebonie Smith
Family Matters is a spin-off of the series, “Perfect Strangers”.
Reginald VelJohnson (Carl Winslow) is a devoted marathon runner.
Jaleel White often played basketball with George Clooney while they were acting on their respective series, Family Matters and “ER”.
Rosetta LeNoire, (Estelle Winslow) while a member of James Earl Jones’ father’s acting troupe, actually took care of the legendary actor (Jones) when he was only a baby.
When the series moved from ABC to CBS, Jo Marie Payton (Harriette Winslow) decided to leave the show. Her reason was in part because she did not like how the series had expanded the Steve Urkel character and storylines, as well as creative differences with the producers. She then agreed to stay for the first half of the final season, after which time she was replaced by Judyann Elder.
Darius McCrary (Eddie Winslow) is the brother of actor Donovan McCrary and the son of musician, Howard McCrary.
Telma Hopkins (Rachel Crawford) was a member of the popular 1970’s musical group, Tony Orlando and Dawn.
Though the character of Steve Urkel was originally intended to only be on the show one time, he instead became the breakout character of the series. Indeed by the end of the show, he was more the main character than anyone else. His character was so popular in fact, that it spawned an entire series of merchandise that included trading cards, books, a talking doll, posters, lunch boxes, T-shirts and even his own limited edition cereal.
Kellie Shanygne Williams (Laura Winslow) did not talk when she was a toddler, so her father decided to put her into a theater program. Luckily, this seemed to work and she started to speak.
Sadly, Rosetta LeNoire died in 2002. She was 90 years old.
Jaleel White enjoys writing short stories, drawing cartoons and making ice cream.
In 2002, Jaimee Foxworth (Judy Winslow) made headlines when it came out that she had been making porn films under the name of “Crave”.
At nine seasons, Family Matters is the second longest-running series with a mostly African-American cast. The first was the very popular series, “The Jeffersons”, which ran for a total of eleven seasons.
Reginald VelJohnson was a high school classmate of former CIA Director, George Tenet and famed porn star Ron Jeremy.
Bryton McClure (a.k.a. Bryton James) (Richie Crawford) received the Michael Landon Award for charitable work through youth in entertainment.
Telma Hopkins volunteers a lot of time to various charitable causes.
The last season of the series was broadcast on CBS instead of ABC, as CBS picked up not only Family Matters, but “Step by Step” in a $40 million dollar deal. After only one season, CBS cancelled both shows.
The house that was shown in the credits as the Winslow home is actually located at 1516 West Wrightwood Avenue in Chicago, Illinois.
Orlando Brown (3J Jameson) was arrested for possession of marijuana in 2007 in Houston, Texas. He was arrested for a DUI in 2011, and he was also arrested two additional times for situations stemming from his DUI arrest.
Before his audition for Steve Urkel, Jaleel White was trying to find a pair of classic nerdy-looking glasses, which usually meant black with tape in the middle, but couldn’t find any. His father, Dr. Michael White, who is a dentist, gave him the pair of glasses that he used while at work to keep the particles out of his eyes. White figured that if he actually got the role, he would simply find another pair later. However, everyone loved the look so much, that he ended up keeping them permanently.
Jo Marie Payton graduated from Albany State University.
Rosetta LeNoire had rickets as a child. She had to wear braces on her legs for thirteen years. In addition to the braces, her godfather, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, also helped her to overcome the rickets by teaching her to dance.
Kellie Shanygne Williams ate lunch with co-star and good friend Jaleel White every day. Additionally, they also shared the same tutor on the set.
Jaleel White (Steve Urkel) played a total of eight different characters on the show.
Reginald VelJohnson received a Bachelor of Arts degree from New York University.
Family Matters had crossovers with several other TGIF shows, these included; Perfect Strangers, Full House, Boy Meets World, Step by Step and Meego. Most had something to do with the Steve Urkel +character.
Darius McCrary is also a music producer and songwriter in addition to being an actor.
Kellie Shanygne Williams has two children, one son and one daughter.
Rosetta LeNoire’s mother died at age 27 after giving birth to LeNoire’s brother in a hospital corridor in Harlem. This horrible occurrence was due to segregationist police keeping her from being able to use a room.
After Jaleel White shot his very first scene as Steve Urkel, he received an unusual reaction. In the audience were fifty frat boys who immediately started chanting, “Urkel! Urkel! Urkel!” It was at that moment that the show’s producers realized just what a talent he was.
As the series continued on, Jaleel White was growing into an adult, making it difficult to retain his character’s younger appearance. Because of this, he had to avoid lifting weights and shave daily.
Michelle Thomas (Myra Monkhouse) left the series shortly before it was actually cancelled, this was due to her having stomach cancer. Tragically, she died that same year. She was only thirty years old.
Jaimee Foxworth dealt with substance abuse problems in the years after Family Matters.
Jo Marie Payton has been married and divorced a total of three times. She has one child, a daughter.
When Michelle Thomas died, Malcolm-Jamal Warner, friend and former boyfriend, was at her bedside.
Jaleel White was originally cast as Rudy Huxtable on the popular series, “The Cosby Show”, until Bill Cosby had a change of heart and decided to make Rudy a girl, mirroring his TV family after his real one. It would not have been the first time that Jaleel had worked with Cosby, as he did a Jell-O pudding pop commercial with him when he was just a small child.
Each season saw an episode where a set is totally and completely destroyed.
Shawn Harrison (Waldo Faldo) is a producer as well as an actor.
The only actor to appear in every single episode of the series was Reginald VelJohnson.
In the 1930’s, Rosetta LeNoire was directed by the legendary Orson Welles in an African-American version of “MacBeth”.
People often wonder what happened to the character of Judy WInslow, the answer is she was simply written off. Later, the show’s history was revised to make it so that her character never even existed. The reason for this was because her character had very little to do on the show, combined with the fact that Foxworth (who played the role) had asked for an increase in salary.
Kellie Shanygne Williams has moved back to her hometown of Washington D.C.
Michelle Thomas played the girlfriend of Theo Huxtable (Malcolm-Jamal Warner) on the Cosby Show.
Bryton McClure enjoys snowboarding, playing video games and racing go-karts.
Jaleel White has one child, a daughter.
Darius McCrary’s first marriage was to a Las Vegas showgirl named Juliette. They had known each other for only four months before deciding to marry. They separated after only three months of marriage.
Jo Marie Payton released a jazz album called ‘Southern Shadows’ in 1999.