you can find information about the cast members of Family
Reginald VelJohnson as Carl Winslow
CARL WINSLOW How's this for a shocking confession? Reginald VelJohnson--who for nearly a decade portrayed one of America's cuddliest television dads--isn't always so crazy about having children around. "When my friends bring their kids over, I have fun playing with them for a while," says the unmarried actor. "But then they start getting into my stuff, and I say, 'They're cute. You can go home now.'" If only he could get rid of insensitive fans so easily. "I had just gotten back from my mother's funeral, and I was in the supermarket, and a woman said, 'Carl, you're not smiling,'" he recalls. "I said, 'Well, you can't smile every day,' and she answered, 'Oh, come on! You can smile for me!'" Experiences like that make VelJohnson, 47, eager to shed his "funny, nice guy" image, which he honed as the Twinkie-loving cop in the first two Die Hard movies before landing his Family Matters gig. "I think it would be cool to play a murderer," he says. "Bad guys have more character." His former television costars would probably disagree. "Of all the people I've ever worked with, he's the most special," says his Family wife, JoMarie Payton. "If I fell short, he caught me. We'd laugh so hard together that I couldn't breathe." Adds director John Tracy: "He's a sweetheart of a guy--a real and happy person." That likability helped VelJohnson land his current spot in MCI's 10-10-321 advertising campaign, but last year a New York City theater production of A Christmas Carol--in which he played the Ghost of Christmas Present--allowed him to explore his edgier side. VelJohnson admits there are probably some types of behavior he won't ever be able to pull off. "I can't flip the bird at another driver," he claims. "The person would think it was Carl--and that would be too weird!"
Darius McCrary as Eddie Winslow
Darius McCrary made his film debut at the age of 10 in "Big Shots," with Paul Winfield. He also portrayed a youth victimized by racial harassment in the film "Mississippi Burning." His television credits include guest roles on "Amen and Hooperman." McCrary enjoys swimming, karate, football, soccer and basketball. He is seeking a singing and songwriting career and has built a recording studio at home. McCrary was born in Los Angeles on May 1.
EDDIE WINSLOW "I'm
extremely happy with the way my career is going,"
says Darius McCrary, 24. It would be hard to argue with
him: He has landed a lead role as a mercenary on a fall
UPN series called Freedom. He's filming the big-screen
family drama Kingdom Come opposite Whoopi Goldberg. And
in October he'll appear in the
thriller Fifteen Minutes, starring Robert DeNiro. "People
forget that before Darius was on Family Matters, he gave
an incredible performance in the movie Mississippi
Burning," notes series executive William Bickley.
"He's a dynamic actor." The single, L.A.-based
McCrary, who also is an amateur boxer, definitely has a
lighter side as well. On the Family Matters set, he
"liked playing pranks like rigging the dressing
rooms so people couldn't get out," says director
John Tracy. Once, McCrary joined forces with costar
Jaleel White and "wrapped my car in toilet paper,"
recalls Reginald VelJohnson, who played the actor's
father. McCrary's victims could never stay mad for long
though. "Darius threatened to turn my hair gray a
few times," castmate Telma Hopkins says jokingly.
"But what a great kid--and, consequently, a great
in Los Angeles, CA on May 1st. 1976
JoMarie Payton Noble as Harriette Winslow
JoMarie Payton Noble has enjoyed performing since elementary school. While at Carol City High School in Miami, she won her first starring role as Mama in the high-school production of "A Raisin in the Sun." Noble studied drama at the University of Miami and later continued at Miami-Dade Community College. During this time she appeared at the Merry-Go-Round Playhouse, the Coconut Grove and the Theater of Afro Arts. This led to the role of Idella, opposite Robert Guillaume, in "Purlie."
From there she launched a successful film and television career with roles on "The Redd Foxx Variety Show," "The New Odd Couple," "Teachers Only," "Small Wonder," "227," "The 'Slap' Maxwell Story" and "Frank's Place." She was also a regular on "Silver Spoons." Her feature film credits include "Body and Soul," "Crossroads," "Disorderlies" and "Troop Beverly Hills." The National Commission on Working Women honored Noble with the 1990 Alice Award for her portrayal on "Family Matters."
Noble lives in the Los Angeles area with her husband, Rodney, and a 12-year-old daughter, Chantale. She was born in Albany, Ga, on Aug. 3.
HARRIETTE WINSLOW Her role as a feisty elevator operator on the sitcom Perfect Strangers was supposed to be a small one. But JoMarie Payton, 49, rode it all the way to the top: In 1989 producers spun off her character, Harriette Winslow, into Family Matters. "When I learned I got the show, I cried," the actress says. "But some people on Perfect Strangers weren't very nice to me when they found out." And so when Payton was upstaged on the Matters set--by nerdy neighbor Steve Urkel, played by Jaleel White--she was philosophical. "When you're headed to the moon, you don't give a damn who the captain of the ship is," she says. After eight years, however, Payton "felt there should be more stories about the mom and dad and their relationship with the children," observes director John Tracy. "And the studio had a different point of view." In 1997 she left the series, and producers filled her role with another actress, Judyann Elder. "Nobody wanted to do a dying mother show or a divorce show," series co-creator William Bickley explains. Payton--who lives in L.A. with her third husband, Landrus Clark, 49, and her daughter from her first marriage, Chantale, 16--has rebounded with recurring roles on Seventh Heaven and Will & Grace and has recorded a jazz CD. Family Matters "had been stagnating my creativity," she says. "The Monday after I left, I felt happier and lighter than I'd felt in years." read more about her
Kellie Shanygne Williams as Laura Winslow
Kellie Shanygne Williams launched her career at age 6 in a play called "Cousins." Since then, she's amassed an impressive list of theater credits, including "Joe Turner's Come and Gone," Butterfinger's Angel," "Colored Museum," "Goin' Home" and "The Bacchae," Williams' television credits include "Celebration in Honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.," "Luther's Choice" and "Moesha." She made her feature film debut in "Suspect," which starred Cher and Dennis Quaid. She also appeared in "Men Don't Leave" with Jessica Lange. Williams enjoys singing, dancing and roller skating. She was born in Washington, D.C., on March 22.
LAURA WINSLOW At the same time her sitcom character was being placed on a pedestal by the love-struck Steve Urkel, Kellie Williams was struggling "through a period of dieting and going to dermatologists," the actress recalls. Fortunately she could turn to her castmates for consolation. "I remember her at age 13, with a little potbelly and pimples, asking me, 'Do you think I'm going to be pretty?'" recalls Telma Hopkins. "I'd say, 'You're going to be gorgeous'--and she is!" Now a psychology major at UCLA ("I thought it would help me understand my characters better," she says), Williams, 24, may no longer worry much about her looks. But auditions are another story. "You get lazy being on a sitcom for so long. It's hard to get into the hustle mode," says Williams, who starred last year in the movie After All, which aired on BET. "But that's what Hollywood's about--making it happen." Her ex-colleagues don't have any doubt that she will. "Of the entire cast," says John Tracy, one of the show's directors, "she's the one who made me want to say, 'Does anybody realize how talented this actress is?'" read more about her
Rosetta LeNoire as Mother Winslow
When Rosetta LeNoire was 15, she was a "Time Stepper" performing with her godfather, Bill "Bojangles" Robinson. In 1939 she made her Broadway debut with him in "The Hot Mikado." She hasn't slowed down since then.
LeNoire made her first television appearance in the 40s as part of a Revlon experiment in TV technology. She has since been seen as Mama in "Gimme a Break" and a regular on "Search for Tomorrow," "The Guiding Light," "Amen" and "A World Apart." She has also made guest appearances on "Benny's Place," "Big Blonde" and "You Can't Take It With You."
Since her Broadway debut more than half a century ago, she was seen in "A Streetcar Named Desire," "The Sunshine Boys," "Lost in the Stars," "Destry Rides Again," "I Had a Ball," "Sophie" and "Cabin in the Sky." She was Stella in the Broadway production of "Anna Lucasta," later starring in the film with Sammy Davis, Jr. and Eartha Kitt. Her film credits include "Moscow on the Hudson," "The Sunshine Boys," "Daniel" and "Brewster's Millions."
Since 1968 Miss Lenoire has been artistic director of her own musical theater, the AMAS Repertory Theater, Inc., a non-profit, multi-racial performing arts organization. In fact, she recently received the Richard L. Coe Award for extending the boundaries of theater. In February 1989, the Actors Equity Association established the Rosetta LeNoire Award.
Lenore was born in New York, NY, on August 8.
Michelle Thomas' first love was music, so it's only natural that she would develop performing skills at a young age.
She studied jazz, modern and hip-hop dance at the Broadway Dance Center in New York, and while attending an all-girls private school in New Jersey, she was crowned Miss Talented Teen New Jersey in Hal Jackson's Talented Teen Competition. She went on to compete in the international pageant in Jamaica and was crowned International Queen in 1985.
Her other television credits include "The Cosby Show," "Roseanne," a pilot called "Conan the Librarian" and "Dream Date," a made-for-television movie. She also appeared in an episode of the ABC series, "A Man Called Hawk."
She was born in Boston, Mass., on September 23, 1968. Unfortunately, the young and talented actress died of a rare form of stomach cancer on December 23, 1998. read more about her
A persistent preschool teacher first saw Jaleel White's spark. So when White was 3-years-old, his parents took him to a casting call and was soon landing roles in TV commercials.
The young actor appeared as a regular in "Charlie &Company," and in the television movies "Kids Don't Tell" "Leftovers," and "Silence of the Heart," with Mariette Hartley and Charlie Sheen.
White appeared with Bea Arthur in a dance number on "The 5th Annual American Comedy Awards" and made a guest appearance as Steve Urkel in an episode of "Full House." He also starred in "The Jaleel White Special."
He is an avid basketball player who also enjoys watching old movies and TV shows. His idol and mentor is entertainer Bill Cosby.
He was born in Los Angeles on Nov. 27.
STEVE URKEL By giving Steve Urkel high-hitched pants and a high-pitched voice, Jaleel White turned what was intended to be a onetime guest role into a nine-year run--not to mention a doll, a brand of cereal and two alter egos (the seductive Stefan Urquelle and southern belle Myrtle Urkel). "He took a character who was kind of funny on paper," says series co-creator William Bickley, "and brought him to life." He also brought some tension to the set. "When he became the star, there were a lot of hurt feelings," says castmate Reginald VelJohnson. About a year shy of finishing his degree at UCLA (he's majoring in film and television), the 23-year-old actor--who lives near campus--stars on a new series, Grown Ups, playing a young, hip professional. "Jaleel loved doing Urkel," says John Tracy, who has directed White on both shows. "But he's happy that he's now showing he can do more." read more about him
Bryton McClure has been in the entertainment business for most of his life. He joined the cast of "Family Matters" before his fourth birthday.
McClure has appeared in several television commercials and print ads, but he is especially proud of the 1994 "Dangerous" compilation video he did with Michael Jackson. He is actively involved in Jackson's "Heal the World" Foundation and other charity groups, including DARE, RAADD (Recording Artists Against Drunk Driving), New Directions for Youth and his own non-profit organization, My Generation.
Bryton enjoys baseball, singing, dancing, video games and popcorn.
He was born in Lakewood, Calif., on August 17, 1986.
RICHIE CRAWFORD Because he
joined the cast when he was only 3 years old, "most
of the things kids learned at home I learned on the set,"
says Bryton McClure. "It was my tutor who taught me how to ride a bike, how to
play baseball." Now 13 and living with his parents
in Orange County, Calif., the only child has traded in
Little League for competitive go-kart racing. He has also
traded in acting for a career as a singer. "We
didn't want to subject him to auditions again, knowing
the odds of getting on another show are so slim,"
says his homemaker mother, Bette McClure. This past
spring the home-schooled eighth grader signed a deal with
the Polydor/Universal music label. That news shouldn't
come as a surprise to anyone who ever caught McClure
imitating Michael Jackson. "Bryton was a great
singer and dancer," recalls director John Tracy.
"He'd come out with a white glove on and his hair
all greased up. Everybody thought it was hysterical."
Jaimee Foxworth as Judy Winslow
JUDY WINSLOW Talk about a disappearing act. At the end of the show's fourth season, the youngest of the three Winslow children walked upstairs to her room...and was never seen again! "Everyone asks, 'What happened to you?'" says Jaimee Foxworth, now 20. "I tell them, 'I'm still up there in my closet, putting on my clothes.'" The show's creators don't have a much better explanation. "The official name is denial, hoping the audience won't notice," admits William Bickley, who says dropping the character was "a budget consideration." As Foxworth's costars coped with the departure--"Jaimee was my best friend on the set," says her TV sister Kellie Williams--her mother struggled to break the news to the then 13-year-old. "Toward the end of that summer I kept asking my mom, 'Aren't we going back to work?'" Foxworth recalls. "She didn't know how to tell me. Finally she just said we weren't." Devastated by the news, Foxworth struggled to adjust to her abruptly new life. "I was back in school, and I didn't have any friends," she says. Dating, too, proved difficult. "I had boyfriends who would be like, 'She has money, she can pay our way.'" In 1996, Foxworth, who shares a home in Burbank with her mom, two sisters and toddler niece, formed a pop band called S.H.E. with her siblings, and the trio continues to perform locally. After several years of acting classes, the Burbank High School graduate is also back on the audition circuit. "Next time," she says, "I want to make serious films."
Telma Hopkins as Rachel Crawford
RACHEL CRAWFORD When Telma Hopkins's grandmother died last year, virtually every one of her former sitcom costars reached out to her. "They really are like family to me," she says. Which made her decision to leave the series after four years a difficult one, even though she was doing so to take a leading role in a new sitcom called Getting By. "The sets were close to each other, so I'd go back and forth all the time,"recalls the actress, 51, who continued making guest appearances on Family Matters. Her ex-castmates were happy to have her hanging around. "Telma and I connected the first time we met," says JoMarie Payton, who asked Hopkins to be a bridesmaid in her 1998 wedding. Adds TV niece Kellie Williams: "She helped raise me. To this day I can still call her, crying." Unfortunately, Hopkins--who sang backup in the 1970s for Tony Orlando as one-half of Dawn--saw her new series survive less than two seasons. But the divorced mother of a 31-year-old son managed to walk away from the experience with something more lasting: a fiance, actor Rif Hutton, 47, whom she met on the set. read more about her
Shawn Harrison, born December 28,
began his acting career at age four, when on his first
audition, he landed a role in the feature film "The
Jerk." His extensive television credits include a
recurring role on the series "Day by Day," and
guest-starring roles on such series as "The Royal
Family," "L.A. Law," "China Beach,"
"Glory Days," "Punky Brewster,"
"Hill Street Blues," "Fame," "Laverne
& Shirley" and "Star Search Jr."
Harrison has also starred in several regional stage
productions including "American Tap," "Tribute
to Michael Jackson," and "Calling All Kids."
read more about him
Cherie Johnson as Maxine Johnson
Cherie Johnson was born in 1976. She played Laura's best friend Maxine from 1990 to the shows end in 1998. She was never named a member of the regular cast, though she was a recurring guest star.
The texts in italics are token from ABC, CBS, WGN, Warner Bros. websites. The texts in regular style are from the article "Where Are They Now?: Family Matters 1989-1998" published by the magazine "People" in June 2000.
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