It was an icon of the 90s. Cereals, board games, comics, books and all kinds of merchandising were made in his honor: on December 15, 1989, Steve Urkel made his first appearance on television across the United States. Only one episode of ‘Family Matters’ was going to come out, but the performance was so outrageously funny that it stole the spotlight from the rest of the cast. But the actor’s career seemed to fade after conquering the world: What happened to Jaleel White?
It was me?
Jaleel Ahmad White was born on November 27, 1976, son of a dentist and a California town housewife. His career began long before ‘Family Matters’, participating in, for example, jello ads with Bill Cosby: the boy’s preschool teacher indicated to the parents that he could be an actorand from the age of three he was used to living among castings, cameras and celebrities.
Y ‘Family Matters’ was not his first role in a series. White had previously appeared in ‘Good Morning, Miss Bliss’ (later to become ‘Saved by the Bell’), ‘The Jeffersons’, ‘Mr. Belvedere’ and was even cast as Cosby’s youngest son in ‘The Bill Cosby Hour’ before the now battered actor replaced him with an actress. His first important role was precisely as the youngest son of another African-American family who plagiarized the concept of that series and tried to compete with it: ‘Charlie & Company’. It was a real flop that even left one of its episodes unissued.
And, after a couple of films where he shared the poster with Jennifer Aniston or Soleil Moon Frye, he arrived the character that, without knowing it, was going to take him to stardom: Steve Urkel. Urkel appeared for the first time in episode 12 of ‘Family Matters’ and his success was such that his scenes were recorded to be included in the reruns of the first eleven episodes: the series was not understood without that annoying neighbor, with a whistle voice and completely in love with Laura Winslow… and that made him not like the rest of his classmates.
One, two, three, I’ll calm down
When, out of nowhere, a twelve-year-old boy became more popular than the rest of his co-stars, they began to dislike him. When she became the only star of the series, she was cut off. Despite everything, throughout the seasons, the friendship blossomed and she ended up getting along with the rest of the cast. In fact, the death of one of the cast membersalong with the end of ‘Family Matters’, changed the actor forever.
If you were fans of the series, surely you remember Myra, Steve’s girlfriend for several seasons. The actress, Michelle Thomas, died in December 1998 after being diagnosed with cancer. extremely rare, and Jaleel White could never get over it (in fact, he has a home altar in his honor). In addition, despite being able to show himself as a heartthrob thanks to the character of Stefan Urquelle (a clone of Urkel who lived transformed into his handsome and popular alter-ego), I couldn’t take it anymore with Steve, who had been exploited over and over again even in other series, such as ‘Forced Parents’ (in fact, Urkel was named in ‘Forced Mothers’) or ‘Step by Step’.
A year after the series ended, White said “If you ever see me play that character again, shoot me in the head and put me out of misery.” The problem is that no one wanted to hire Jaleel White: everyone saw Steve Urkel, and it was difficult not to. In addition, their problems increased: the role of Sonic, which he had voiced since 1993, it was finished in 2000 with ‘Sonic Underground’. Neither Urkel, nor Sonic. And now that?
Return to Urkel
After a lost decade, in which she participated in a very secondary role in ‘Dreamgirls’ or in movies like ‘Megashark vs. Crocosaur’, White had two mishaps that damaged (even more) his image. In 2012, just coinciding with a possible resurgence by participating in ‘Dancing with the stars’ (where he was seventh), his ex-girlfriend Bridget Hardy accused him of domestic violence. She said that the actor pushed her so hard against a toilet that he ended up breaking it, but he defended that it was a deception along the way for the custody of her daughter. In the end, everything is said, the trial was dismissed.
The second controversy was caused in the reality itself, in which the actor was nicknamed “Jerkel” after getting mad at Kim Johnson at rehearsal after stepping on her: White called her an “idiot” and began to complain, while in a rage, about having to dance with a “stupid” partner. In fact, he even said something to a professional dancer who confronted him that still has to ring in his ears:
You remind me of that annoying neighbor on that sitcom who was always getting into other people’s business!
‘Dancing with the stars’ did not return Jaleel White to the front page and became an episodic series actor. You’ve seen him in ‘House’, ‘NCIS’, ‘Psych’ or ‘Castle’, and even playing himself in ‘Atlanta’. After being directed by Clint Eastwood in his worst film, ’15: 17 Train to Paris’, and appearing in even more unimportant roles, the actor gave in to the evidence: I had to play Urkel againhoping no one would take his advice and shoot him in the head.
First, as a guest star in ‘Scooby Doo and company’ in 2019. After the success on the Internet, two years later he crossed the border of cartoons and he dressed again in the clothes of his hated and loved character to promote a strain of his cannabis brand, ItsPurpl, which he called Purple Urkel and whose store has now disappeared. come on what beyond free virality, it did not achieve anything.
The last thing we have heard about the actor, who is pecking at roles here and there (he was in the new ‘Ducktales’, for example, and presented the contest that Christian Gálvez will take in Spain, ’25 words’) is that will star in an animated film of ‘Family Matters’ that was struck down by HBO Max and now try to find home: ‘Did I do that? To Steve Urkel Story’, where Urkel will team up with Santa Claus to find the spirit of Christmas. We hope that he never rereads what he said in 1999, for his own good.