Celebrities | Pop Culture | 90s
His Catchphrase Is Still Stuck In Our Heads, But Happened To The Man Behind Steve Urkel?
"Did I do that?" It's a question that immediately spawns a hundred memories of episodes and moments of Steve Urkel doing his thing. It didn't seem to ever turn out great, but for some reason he never gave up, not for any of the nine seasons.
Jaleel White played the iconic and epic character of Steve Urkel for nine seasons and he completely took over the show. He didn't actually appear until the fourth episode, but as soon as he did, he managed to completely change the whole plot.
White was only 12 years old when he was signed on to do a guest role on Family Matters, but no one could have predicted that his character was going to be so popular. Seriously, he ended up getting a Steve Urkel doll, Steve Urkel cereal called Urkel-Os and made some crossovers to other TGIF shows including Full House.
White acted relieved to be done with Steve Urkel when the show ended. He was interviewed in 1999 and his thoughts on the character made headlines. "If you ever see me do that character again, take me out and put a bullet in my head and put me out of my misery," White said, but later he changed his tune.
In 2011 he spoke with Vanity Fair and addressed the comment. "It’s one of those things that it’s very unfortunate how quotes are taken out of context," White said. "I remember that interview very vividly. I loved playing those characters [...] But the fact is that I was maturing. [...] To be honest, I was retarding my own growth as a man in order to maintain the authenticity to what I thought that character should be."
He did change his mind on whether he would put back on the suspenders. He said, "I’ll always say never say never; I’m a pretty creative person. I can’t envision how I could do it in a way that would be irreverent and fun for both me and the viewing audience..."
There hasn't been any Family Matters reboot talk yet, but what did Jaleel White get up to after the end of Urkel? Well, it wasn't all easy..
In 1999, just one year after the show ended he became the star of his own show. The UPN sitcome Grown Ups starred White as a man starting out in the world as an adult, but unfortunately it seemed as though people weren't all that interested in it and it was cancelled after one season.
White did however find a fair amount of success in voice acting. He made several animated projects, including providing the voice of Sonic the Hedgehog in many animated features.
He took time to attend college, graduating from UCLA with a degree in film and television. White hasn't stopped acting even though his projects haven't seem to have gotten the same attention as Family Matters.
He did recently have a television show with SNL alum Bobby Moynihan called Me, Myself & I which is having a rough time getting traction. The first six episodes aired and didn't get the ratings they wanted to they pulled it from the schedule but claim that it is remaining in production for the time being and will come back to the network eventually.
Let's hope this show finds its audience when it comes back so Jaleel White can find a new character to embrace as much as he did with Urkel!