Jo Marie Payton

Jo Marie Payton Headshot

Actress • Singer

Birth Date: August 3, 1950

Age: 73 years old

Birth Place: Albany, Georgia

Payton has gained some measure of celebrity playing Harriet Winslow, first as a recurring character--the sarcastic elevator operator at the newspaper office on the goofy "buddy" sitcom "Perfect Strangers" (ABC, 1987-89)--and subsequently as a regular, the long-suffering Mom who must endure the increasingly cartoonish antics of her blowhard husband and oddball neighbor (the infamous Steve Urkel) on the hit sitcom "Family Matters," a role she vacated in 1997 after the series moved from ABC to CBS. Ironically, though her character was ostensibly the original spur for the spin-off, Payton has been somewhat shunted aside by the phenomenal success of her young co-star Jaleel White as Urkel. Even before this happened, however, her on-screen husband Carl (Reginald VelJohnson) was emphasized over her. Later, the interplay between Urkel and Carl became the focus when the stylized nerd shared the spotlight at all. Perhaps Payton's qualities are more those of a supporting player than a star. In any event, she has been working steadily for about a decade.

Prior to these two successful stints, Payton's modest TV credits were almost exclusively in comedy. She had recurring roles on "The Redd Foxx Comedy Hour" (ABC, 1977), "The New Odd Couple" (1982-83) and "Silver Spoons" (NBC, 1985-86). Payton guested on such fare as "Frank's Place," "The 'Slap' Maxwell Story" and "227." She also appeared in several bit parts in films. Payton entered professional show business in the mid-1970s after appearing in numerous amateur productions in Miami, Florida. In 1975, her big break arrived in town with a touring company of "Purlie" starring Robert Guillaume. Payton's local celebrity helped her snare the part of Idella. She joined the tour and stuck with it until it ended in Los Angeles. Payton became involved in local theater and soon segued into TV where she found a comfortable home.

Credits

Momma Said Come Home for Christmas

Actor
Dolly Roundtree
Movie
2023

Sherri

Guest
Talk
2022

The Proud Family: Louder and ProuderStream

Voice
Suga Mama
Series
2022
100%

Conundrum: Secrets Among Friends

Actor
Mrs. Dumas
Movie
2022

A Family Matters ChristmasStream

Actor
Henrietta
Movie
2022

A Very Charming Christmas Town

Actor
Estelle
Movie
2020

GMA3: Strahan, Sara & Keke

Guest
Show
2019

The Little Mermaid

Actor
Lorene
Movie
2018

Christmas Made to OrderStream

Actor
Rachel
Movie
2018

Daily Blast Live

Guest
Show
2017

Jerico

Actor
Maebell
Movie
2016

Mann & Wife

Actor
Series
2015

The Flight Before ChristmasStream

Actor
Marie
Movie
2015

Blaze and the Monster MachinesStream

Voice
Grandma Ninja
Series
2014

The Real

Guest
Talk
2013

From This Day Forward

Actor
Show
2012

From This Day Forward

Actor
Elena
Movie
2012

The Doctors

Guest
Talk
2008

The Proud Family MovieStream

Voice
Suga Mama
Movie
2005

Desperate HousewivesStream

Guest Star
Charlene
Series
2004
72%

The Big House

Guest Star
Series
2004

Gas

Actor
Loretta
Movie
2004

Wanda at Large

Guest Star
Show
2003

RebaStream

Guest Star
Grandma Ruby
Series
2001

The Ellen Show

Guest Star
Show
2001

The Proud FamilyStream

Voice
Suga Mama
Series
2001

GirlfriendsStream

Guest Star
Series
2000

City of Angels

Guest Star
Show
2000

Judging Amy

Guest Star
Series
1999

The ParkersStream

Guest Star
Series
1999

The Hughleys

Guest Star
Series
1998

Will & GraceStream

Guest Star
Mrs. Freeman
Series
1998

The Jamie Foxx ShowStream

Guest Star
Series
1996

MoeshaStream

Guest Star
Series
1996

Family MattersStream

Actor
Series
1989

Frank's Place

Guest Star
Series
1987

Perfect StrangersStream

Actor
Series
1986

227Stream

Guest Star
Series
1985

The New Odd Couple

Actor
Show
1982

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