Jaleel White Turns 45: Fun Facts About the ‘Family Matters’ Star


With oversized glasses and suspenders, 12-year-old Jaleel White waddled into the hearts of “Family Matters” viewers when he first portrayed Steve Urkel. Today marks his 45th birthday.

Did you know these fun facts about the actor who played 90’s television’s most charming geek?

The ‘Family Matters’ Cast Initially Detested Steve Urkel’s Popularity

Steve Urkel, the Winslow family’s neighbor, was slated to appear for only a single episode of “Family Matters,” but the overwhelmingly positive audience reception to the character prompted a refocus.

Some cast members were initially displeased with the oddball next-door who stole the show.

“We weren’t happy about it,” said Jo Marie Payton, who played “Family Matters” matriarch Harriet Winslow, on “E! True Hollywood Story.” “I think along the way it got to be a little resentful, but it was just an adjustment that we had to make.”

Over time, the cast came to accept White’s starring role and embrace the nerdy icon throughout the 9-season run of the beloved ABC sitcom.

White Revisited Steve Urkel For ‘Scooby-Doo and Guess Who?’

Over two decades after the series finale of “Family Matters,” White returned to the role that made him famous for “Scooby-Doo and Guess Who?” in 2019. In the episode, Steve Urkel and the Scooby gang work together to find the runaway Urkel-Bot.

“Scooby-Doo and Guess Who?” sees the Mystery Incorporated squad meet celebrities, both real and fictional.

The episode “When Urkel-Bots Go Bad!” is available to watch on the Boomerang app and HBO Max.

White Hosts a Podcast About Child Stars

With the podcast “Ever After,” White sits down with child stars of the past for a discussion on their experience growing up famous.

The podcast features Keke Palmer of “True Jackson, VP,” Raven-Symoné of “That’s So Raven,” Tyler James Williams of “Everybody Hates Chris” and many more guests.

White Voiced Sonic The Hedgehog

Image credit: Prime Video

For 90’s gamers, White’s voice is the super speedy sound of SEGA mascot Sonic the Hedgehog.

Beginning in 1993, White played the titular blue blur in “Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog.” He reprised the role several times over the years with “Sonic Underground,” “Sonic Christmas Blast!,” and a Sonic fan film.

White Hosted a Short-Lived Game Show

Urkel hosted “Total Blackout,” a game show where contestants compete in gross-out challenges, like identifying mystery objects by touch or smell, in all-encompassing darkness.

The show ran for two seasons on SYFY.

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