Jaleel White

Jaleel White Headshot

Actor • Comedian • Producer • Writer

Birth Name: Jaleel Ahmad White

Birth Date: November 27, 1976

Age: 47 years old

Birth Place: Pasadena, California

A child actor with an impressive list of credits by the age of 12, Jaleel White became a star by playing the unbelievably dorky Steve Urkel on "Family Matters" (ABC/CBS, 1989-1998). Exploding from a one-episode guest star to series-conquering supernova, White's Urkel became an international craze, spawning countless products and catchphrases, including "Did I do that?" Winning three Image Awards for his work, White displayed an impressive range and flair for physical comedy, but the character was so pervasive throughout pop culture that he found it difficult to avoid being typecast when the show ended. After voicing Sonic the Hedgehog on various animated series iterations and also graduating from college, White attempted a sitcom comeback with "Grown Ups" (UPN, 1999-2000) and lent his voice to the animated film "Quest for Camelot" (1998). Slowly laying the groundwork for a career renaissance, he impressed with a cameo as a talent booker in "Dreamgirls" (2006), played a delightfully eccentric teacher in "Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer" (2011) and was named host of the Syfy game show "Total Blackout." Although it was unlikely he could ever recapture the pop cultural dominance of his Urkel days, Jaleel White proved he was a talented and ambitious performer who was determined to move beyond his child stardom.

Born Nov. 27, 1976 in Pasadena, CA, Jaleel Ahmad White began working in front of the camera in commercials at the age of three, and quickly became a veteran child actor, booking appearances on everything from "The Jeffersons" (CBS, 1975-1985) to "Charlie & Co." (CBS, 1985-86) to "Mr. Belvedere" (ABC, 1985-1990). In fact, he almost landed the role of "Rudy" on "The Cosby Show" (NBC, 1984-1992) until Bill Cosby decided to make the character a girl. White's star-making role, however, came from a more unlikely place: a one-time guest spot on the sitcom "Family Matters" (ABC/CBS, 1989-1998) as the cartoonishly nerdy Steve Urkel. It was a testament to White's charisma that he managed to turn the character, clad in big glasses, suspendered-high-water pants, and a cardigan, into not just a scene-stealer, but in effect a series-stealer. A gifted physical comedian who gave Urkel his distinctively squeaky voice and bizarrely graceful movements, White quickly proved so mind-bogglingly popular that he was given a series regular role.

Although the series had originally been intended to focus on the middle-class African-American Winslow family, headed by Harriette (Jo Marie Payton) and Carl (Reginald VelJohnson), it only achieved massive success when the Urkel character arrived, and quickly usurped the focus of the show, pushing it into more over-the-top territory. Although some of the cast members resented the switch, White's presence powered the program to full-fledged hit status, and he won a three Image Awards for his work. The international Urkel mania the character created could not be overstated. Not only did White reprise the character on a slew of sitcoms in ABC's iconic, much-loved "TGIF" lineup, but Steve Urkel also spawned a dance, breakfast cereal, doll and countless other products, as well as a string of catchphrases, including "Got any cheese?" "Whoooaaaa mama!" and "Did I do that?" For a certain generation, White-as-Steve-Urkel became an essential pop culture symbol, fondly remembered decades later.

As with many other actors who created iconic characters like Henry Winkler's Fonzie from "Happy Days," White recognized the difficulty of escaping being typecast by the long shadow of Urkel. He took admirable steps to branch out professionally, writing an episode of "Family Matters" and creating a slew of additional Urkel relatives that allowed him to demonstrate his impressive range, including the Southern belle Myrtle Urkel and the smooth clone Stefan Urquelle. When the show ended, he voiced the titular video game hero Sonic the Hedgehog on several animated series iterations. He returned to live-action television with a sitcom that mirrored his attempts to move beyond child stardom, "Grown Ups" (UPN, 1999-2000), which failed to catch fire. He lent his voice again to an animated project, "Quest for Camelot" (1998), while returning to school at the University of California at Los Angeles, where he earned his bachelor's degree in film in 2001. After appearing in several lower-profile projects, he essayed a small role as a talent booker in the Oscar-winning "Dreamgirls" (2006), revealing a fully grown-up presence.

White starred on the web series "Fake It Til You Make It" and continued to book TV guest spots, including an episode of "House" (Fox, 2004-2012) as well as the direct-to-DVD creature feature "Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus" (2010). Revealing himself to have grown into a decidedly non-dorky adult, he made a well-received cameo as the quirky teacher of "Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer" (2011). While doing press for that film, he discussed the legacy of his Steve Urkel superstardom, displaying an admirable sense of perspective as well as stating his desire to move on artistically. Fans were glad to hear that he landed the hosting gig of Syfy's new game show, "Total Blackout" (2012). Meanwhile, in February 2012, it was announced that White would join the season 14 cast of "Dancing with the Stars" (ABC, 2005- ), competing alongside Melissa Gilbert, NFL wide receiver Donald Driver and old "Charlie & Co." co-star Gladys Knight.

By Jonathan Riggs

Credits

Make Me Scream

Self
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2023

Vintage Videos

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2023

Make me scream

Actor
Movie
2023

North of the 10

Actor
Lyle Silvers
Movie
2022

HustleStream

Actor
Blake
Movie
2022
93%

Did I Do That to the Holidays? A Steve Urkel Story

Producer
Movie
2022

Did I Do That to the Holidays? A Steve Urkel Story

Voice
Steve Urkel
Movie
2022

Pictionary

Self
Game Show
2021

Overserved With Lisa VanderpumpStream

Self
Reality
2021

The Greatest Inheritance

Actor
Mr. Shepard
Movie
2021

Ever After

Executive Producer
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2020

Ever After

Host
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2020

The Drew Barrymore ShowStream

Guest
Talk
2020

Sonic the Hedgehog from Tubi

Actor
Show
2020

Sonic the Hedgehog from Tubi

Actor
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2020

Twenties: Extras

Actor
Show
2020

Caroline & Friends: The Game

Guest
Show
2019

Tamron HallStream

Guest
Talk
2019

50 Ways to Kill Your Mum

Guest
Show
2019

Scooby-Doo and Guess Who?Stream

Guest Voice
Steve Urkel
Series
2019

Historical Roasts

Actor
Muhammad Ali / Nelson Mandela
Show
2019

Historical Roasts

Guest Star
Muhammad Ali
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2019

When Vows Break

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Dwayne
Movie
2019

5th of July

Actor
Orlando Leal
Movie
2019

Staging Christmas

Actor
Mr. Lexington
Movie
2019

25 Words or LessStream

Self
Game Show
2018

Me, Myself & I

Actor
Darryl
Series
2017
63%

Daily Blast Live

Guest
Show
2017

Raven's HomeStream

Guest Star
Chris Spring-Lake
Series
2017

Hollywood DarlingsStream

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2017

Trial & ErrorStream

Guest Star
Atticus Ditto Jr.
Series
2017

Mommy, I Didn't Do It

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Detective Hamer
Movie
2017

The Preacher's Son

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James Black
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2017

AtlantaStream

Guest Star
Himself
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2016
98%

To Tell the TruthStream

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Game Show
2016

Hollywood Medium With Tyler HenryStream

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Reality
2016

Celebrity Food Fight

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2015

At Midnight With Chris HardwickStream

Guest
Game Show
2015

FamelessStream

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Reality
2015

Celebrity Family FeudStream

Guest
Game Show
2015

Guilty Pleasures

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2015

Fresh Off the BoatStream

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Calvin
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2015
94%

The Meredith Vieira Show

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Talk
2014

Dumbbells

Actor
Cult Leader
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2014

4Play

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Jamal
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2014

The Santa Con

Actor
Paul Greenberg
Movie
2014

The Queen Latifah Show

Guest
Talk
2013

The Social

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2013

Drunk HistoryStream

Guest Star
Series
2013

The Wrong Woman

Actor
Detective Hamer
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2013

Sonic

Voice
Sonic
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2013

Katie

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Talk
2012

Total BlackoutStream

Host
Game Show
2012

Rhymes With Banana

Actor
J
Movie
2012

The Marilyn Denis Show

Guest
Show
2011

Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer

Actor
Mr. Todd
Movie
2011

Hawaii Five-0Stream

Guest Star
Series
2010

Access Hollywood Live

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2010

Hollywood Uncensored

Guest
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2010

Worst Cooks in AmericaStream

Contestant
Reality
2010

Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus

Actor
Dr. Terry McCormick
Movie
2010

Watch What Happens Live With Andy CohenStream

Guest
Talk
2009

Drop Dead DivaStream

Guest Star
Bob
Series
2009
78%

CastleStream

Guest Star
Series
2009
82%

Call of the Wild

Actor
Dr. Spencer
Movie
2009

The Doctors

Guest
Talk
2008

The Wendy Williams Show

Guest
Talk
2008

Kissing Cousins

Actor
Antwone
Movie
2008

Green Flash

Actor
Jason Bootie
Movie
2008

PsychStream

Guest Star
Series
2006
89%

Who Made the Potatoe Salad?

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Michael
Movie
2006

Miracle Dogs Too

Actor
Leo
Movie
2006

Made in Hollywood

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2005

BonesStream

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Officer Adams
Series
2005
90%

Dancing With the StarsStream

Contestant
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2005

HouseStream

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Porter
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2004
90%

Boston LegalStream

Guest Star
Kevin Givens
Series
2004
86%

NCISStream

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Martin Thomas
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2003

Half & HalfStream

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2002

CSI: Crime Scene InvestigationStream

Guest Star
Kenny Greene
Series
2000

Sonic Underground

Actor
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1999

Grown Ups

Actor
J. Calvin Frazier
Show
1999

Grown Ups

Producer
Show
1999

Quest for CamelotStream

Voice
Bladebeak
Movie
1998
43%

The View

Guest
Talk
1997

Un homme à domicile

Actor
Show
1995

Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child

Voice
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1995

Diagnosis MurderStream

Guest Star
Series
1993

Sonic the Hedgehog

Voice
Sonic the Hedgehog
Show
1993

Adventures of Sonic the HedgehogStream

Voice
Sonic the Hedgehog
Series
1993

Step by StepStream

Guest Star
Series
1991

The Fresh Prince of Bel-AirStream

Guest Star
Series
1990

Family MattersStream

Actor
Steve Urkel
Series
1989

Full HouseStream

Guest Star
Steve Urkel
Series
1987

Silence of the Heart

Actor
Hanry
Movie
1984

The JeffersonsStream

Actor
Van Van Morris
Series
1975

The Tonight Show Starring Johnny CarsonStream

Guest
Talk
1962

Today

Guest
News
1952

News aboutJaleel White