“It’s Friday night and the moon is bright. Gonna have some fun, show you how it’s done TGIF!” Yeah, I know it from memory, and don’t lie, you do too. This was ABC’s theme song for their family friendly Friday night line-up, called TGIF, as in “Thank Goodness it’s Funny.” Seriously guys, I didn’t have a life on Friday night from ages 6 until 12, because I would stay home and watch TGIF with my sister, in my parents’ bedroom, with NO ADULT SUPERVISION! And I would get to stay up to the wee hour of 9pm (I’m from the Midwest, so we got that whole Central time zone programming is one hour earlier deal). In short, TGIF was a very important part of my childhood, and one staple of this line-up was Family Matters. I knew the weekend had started as soon as I heard Steve Urkel’s nasally cry of “Did I do that?!” In one of my fits of nostalgia, I asked myself, where are these guys now? And to sate my curiosity (and save you hours of surfing through Wikipedia), I’ve published the highlights below:
 

Jaleel White – Steve Urkel/Stefan Urquelle (and other Urkel family members)

Let’s start with the obvious one, the kid who turned Family Matters from dubious endeavor to hit show. Part of the advantage of Jaleel’s portrayal of Steve Urkel (unlike someone like  Dustin Diamond’s Screech from Saved by the Bell, who essentially played himself)  is that he was in nerd drag for most of the show – his costumes (short pants and suspenders, dorky glasses), posture (slouched to make him appear shorter), and his voice (nasal and caricature-ish) all created the dorky, accident prone character  – so while he played a dork, he looks much more like Steve’s suave alter ego who he created by imbibing some Cool Juice, Stefan Urquelle. And seriously, who wouldn’t want to cast him? These days, Jaleel can be seen playing guest roles in hit TV shows (House and N.C.I.S.for starters) and he has had bit parts in quite a few movies (Dreamgirls, Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer). Recently he said he’d love a guest role in Breaking Bad, and I don’t see why that couldn’t happen.
 

Reginald VelJohnson – Carl Winslow

To those who didn’t watch TGIF, Reginald VelJohnson is best known as Sgt. Al Powell, aka the cop who helped John McClane in Die Hard (and he actually reprised that role on a 2008 episode of Chuck). He seems to have played a cop ever since (or a doctor, according to IMDB) with a few exceptions. One of those exceptions was on the short-lived, Steven Spielberg produced reality series On the Lot (yeah, he was one of the actors the filmmakers could cast, and yeah, I knew that because I watched) – how the mighty have fallen. He has been seen most recently on TV in The Bold and the Beautiful and Meet the Browns and had a small role in the movie You Again, which starred Jamie Lee Curtis, Sigourney Weaver, and Kristen Bell. He’ll be seen next in the upcoming TV series Tron: Uprising as Able.
 

Jo Marie Payton – Hariette Winslow

Hariette Winslow was the level-headed rock of the family who kept everyone, including Carl, in line. Since her stint as Hariette, Jo Marie Payton seems to have been riding the guest star train that the other cast members have boarded, appearing in shows as diverse as Reba, Meet the Browns, Desperate Housewives, and The Glades. She also was a series regular on Disney Channel’s animated series, The Proud Family, voicing matriarch Suga Mamma.
 

Darius McCrary – Eddie Winslow

You’d expect cool, smooth talking dreamboat Eddie Winslow to be doing quite well after Family Matters has ended, and he definitely has done all right from himself. Besides boarding the guest star train his fellow castmates occupy, McCrary had a role in Saw VI, and a two year stint on daytime hit The Young and the Restless, portraying photographer Malcolm Winters. However, not everything is sunshine and roses – his ex-wife Karinne Steffans issued a restraining order against him in late 2010. The reason? She claims he beat her.
 

Rosetta LeNoire – Estelle “Mother” Winslow

The matriarch of the Winslow family doled out sass and good advice in equal amounts. Estelle was always the life of the party and sometimes was a thorn in her son’s side, but we all know that Carl can be crotchety. Unfortunately, Rosetta can no longer bring her spirit and vigor to new roles. She died in 2002, at the age of 90, from complications with diabetes. R.I.P.
 

Telma Hopkins – Aunt Rachel

While she disappeared from time to time, Aunt Rachel and her restaurant, Rachel’s Place were definitely memorable parts of Family Matters. Today, Telma has a recurring role on TBS sitcom Are We There Yet? as Marilyn Pearsons. Her voice will be heard later this year in the Pixar film, Monsters, Inc. 2.
 

Bryton McClure – Richie Crawford

He was really cute as Rachel’s son, and now is cute in a whole different way as a 25 year old man. Bryton has had a very successful career in his adult years thus far, appearing on The Vampire Diaries as Luka for a 7 episode arc, voicing Jason/Z-Strap on the Nicktoon Zevo-3, and, most impressive, appearing in nearly 500 episodes of The Young and the Restless (he’s been on the show since 2004). I wonder how it was reuniting with co-star Darius McCrary when he joined the cast of the soap.
 

Jaimee Foxworth – Judy Winslow

She was to Family Matters what Tiger was to The Brady Bunch, a cute character who disappeared without any explanation. After four seasons of having three children, the Winslows downgraded to 2 when Jaimee was cut from the cast. Since then, Foxworth has had a fairly tragic life. She starred in several pornographic films, using the moniker “Crave,” and has admittedly struggled with drug and alcohol abuse. She appeared on the first season of Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew to confront her marijuana addiction, and while she did eventually relapse, today, she is reportedly sober and has a 2 year old son.
 

Kellie Shanygne Williams – Laura Winslow

Laura Winslow was the classic girl-next-door, and I know that there were definitely times when I wanted to be her (like when she had multiple guys asking her to a school dance, even if one of them was Steve). On Wikipedia, her character name is listed as Laura Winslow-Urkel which reminded me that, yes, she did marry Steve Urkel at the series’ end. These days, Kellie seems less focused on acting and is more focused on creating opportunities for kids to participate in the arts in her hometown of Washington, DC. She founded the Kellie Williams Program to give students between the ages of 14 and 20 to create a television show to air on their local cable channel. The program has four main focus areas: theatre, music, visual arts and dance. Kellie hopes to encourage kids into the arts and “wanted to bring it to the masses, not to just people who were familiar with the arts, but to people who had never experienced any art.” That just makes me smile.

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