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Jaleel Ahmad White (born November 27, 1976) is an American actor and screenwriter. He is best known for his role as Steve Urkel on the sitcom Family Matters.[1] White also voiced the character of Sonic the Hedgehog and other characters for Sonic the Hedgehog media.

Personal life

White was born in Pasadena, California, son of Michael White, a dentist, and Gail, a housewife.[2]

In 2001, White graduated from UCLA with a degree in film and television.[3]

In March 2010 White announced he had a seven month old daughter[4] with ex girlfriend Bridget Hardy. White and Hardy dated for three years before breaking up; Hardy wanted to marry but White was not ready. They co parent their daughter in Washington.[citation needed]

Suicide hoax

In June 2006, an internet rumor was spread via email that White had committed suicide. The email contained a fake Associated Press report stating that White was found dead in his Los Angeles apartment after shooting himself. The report, which contained fake quotes from former co-stars and associates, also claimed that White left behind a suicide note that contained Steve Urkel's popular catch phrase, "Did I do that?" No legitimate news outlets ever picked up the story.[5] Five months after the hoax, White addressed the rumor stating, "I don’t even know what to say about that darned thing. As much as you try to live your life right, you’re gonna get sucker-punched now and then. That was my sucker punch back in June".[6]


White got his start on TV commercials at age three with Kellogg's after his preschool teacher persuaded his reluctant parents to take him to auditions. He landed his first television role as the son of Flip Wilson and Gladys Knight on the CBS series Charlie and Company. He next appeared on another CBS comedy series, The Jeffersons. White also appeared in the pilot episode for Good Morning, Miss Bliss in 1987, and had a role in the 1990 television movie Camp Cucamonga.

Family Matters

At the age of 12, just shortly after starring in the TV commercial for the Atari Lynx portable video game system, White originated his most famous role, Steve Urkel, on Family Matters. The role was initially conceived as a one-time guest appearance, but the character proved to be popular and White was given a full-time starring role. He also played several other members of the Urkel family, including his alter ego Stefan Urquelle and Myrtle Urkel. During the height of Family Matters' popularity, the character of Urkel was marketed as breakfast cereal (Urkel-Os) and a doll.[7] In addition to starring in the series, White also wrote several episodes, including one, at age 19, that was the series' highest rated.[2][8]

When the series was cancelled in 1998 after nine years, White had grown tired of the role. Shortly after the series' cancellation, he stated in an interview, "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."[9] Due to the character's popularity, White was so tightly defined by his Urkel character that it became hard for him to get other roles.[citation needed]

Post-Family Matters

In 1999, White returned to television in the UPN sitcom Grown Ups. The series was based around White as a young man striking out into adulthood. He also co-produced and wrote episodes for the show, in which he starred as “J,” a college graduate struggling to establish his role in life as an adult. The pilot episode featured another former child actor, Soleil Moon Frye, famous for her role as Punky Brewster, as the girl whom he chose as a roommate.[10] The series failed to attract viewers and was canceled after one season.

White’s acting roles have not been restricted to sitcoms, however; he has done voice work for several animated projects including the 1998 film Quest for Camelot. In 1999, he provided the voice for Martin Luther King, Jr., in Our Friend, Martin. He was also the voice of the famed video game character Sonic the Hedgehog in all of the American produced TV shows - Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Sonic Underground, as well as a Christmas special.

He has continued acting and has had small parts in the films Big Fat Liar, HEY HO and Dreamgirls, and was featured in a lead role in the 2006 comedy Who Made the Potato Salad?. In 2007, he guest-starred on the CW series The Game, followed by a role as a law school graduate interviewing for a job at Crane, Poole and Schmidt in the ABC legal drama Boston Legal.

In June 2009, White began appearing in the web series Road to the Altar.[11] In the series, White stars as Simon, a 30-something black man marrying a young Jewish girl named Rochelle. In September 2009, White guest starred on the USA Network series Psych, as an estranged college singing buddy of the character Gus.

In June 2010, White began appearing in the web series Fake It Till You Make It. He also serves as writer and producer of the series.[12] The series follows the exploits of a former child star (White) turned image consultant and his three protégés as they hustle to navigate the façade called Hollywood.[13]

White will star in the upcoming direct-to-video monster movie Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus, which will be released on December 21, 2010.[14]

Selected filmography

Year Film Role Notes
1998 Quest for Camelot Bladebeak
2002 Big Fat Liar Himself Uncredited
2006 Miracle Dogs Too Leo
Puff, Puff, Pass Tenant #2 Uncredited
Who Made the Potato Salad Michael
Dreamgirls Talent Booker
2008 Kissing Cousins Antwone
Green Flash Jason Bootie Direct-to-DVD release
Alternative title: Beach Kings
2009 Call of the Wild Dr. Spencer
Year Title Role Notes
1984 The Jeffersons Van Van Morris 1 episode
Silence of the Heart Hanry Television movie
1985 Charlie & Co. Robert Richmond 18 episodes
1986 The Leftovers Jake Television movie
1987 Mr. Belvedere Ernie Masters 1 episode
Good Morning, Miss Bliss Bobby Wilson 1 episode
1989–1998 Family Matters Steve Urkel
Stefan Urquelle
Myrtle Urkel
Bruce Lee Urkel
Main Role
1990 Camp Cucamonga Dennis Brooks Television movie
1991 Full House Steve Urkel 1 episode
1993 Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog Sonic the Hedgehog (Voice) 65 episodes
1993–1994 Sonic the Hedgehog Sonic the Hedgehog (Voice) 26 episodes
1995 The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Derek 1 episode
1998 Sonic Underground Sonic, Manic, and Sonia (Voices) 40 episodes
1999–2000 Grown Ups J. Calvin Frazier 22 episodes
2005 Half & Half Hershel 1 episode
2007 The Game Chris 1 episode
Boston Legal Kevin Givens 1 episode
2009 Psych Tony 1 episode

Awards and nominations

Year Award Result Category Series
1985 Young Artist Award Nominated Best Young Actor - Guest in a Television Series The Jeffersons
1986 Nominated Best Young Supporting Actor in a New Television Series Charlie & Co.
1991 Won Outstanding Young Comedian in a Television Series Family Matters
1994 NAACP Image Awards Won Outstanding Youth Actor/Actress Family Matters
1995 Outstanding Youth Actor/Actress Family Matters
1996 Nominated Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series Family Matters
1997 Won Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series Family Matters
1996 Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards Nominated Favorite Television Actor Family Matters


  1. Braxton, Greg (2010-06-18). "Jaleel White fondly recalls playing Urkel on 'Family Matters'". LA Times. Retrieved 2010-08-22. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Jaleel White Biography (1986-05/14/2009)
  3. "Star Graduate". Jet. 2001-07-09. Retrieved 2008-10-11. 
  4. "I am a proud father of a 7 mo. old baby girl. In the interest of child development, she lives a fame-free life”.
  5. Mikkelson, Barbara. "Did I Do That?". Retrieved 2008-10-11. 
  6. Harris, Will (2006-11-05). "A Chat with Jaleel White". Retrieved 2008-10-11. 
  7. "Family Matters: 1989-1998". People. 2000-06-26. Retrieved 2008-10-11. 
  8. Rhudy, Ben (2006-11-12). "M&C Exclusive Interview: Jaleel White talks “Who Made the Potatoe Salad?”". Retrieved 2008-10-11. 
  9. Noxon, Christopher (1999-08-22). "Jaleel White ('Don't Call Me Urkel') Grows Up". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-10-11. 
  10. Tucker, Ken (1999-09-10). "Mo' and More". Retrieved 2008-10-11. 
  11. "Jaleel White: From Urkel to the 'Altar'!". 2009-06-19. Retrieved 2009-07-02. 
  12. Tambay. "Steve Urkel Returns With A Web Series Called “Fake It Till You Make It!”". Retrieved 10 June 2010. 
  13. "New Web-series Fake It Til You Make It From Jaleel White". Retrieved 10 June 2010. 
  14. The Asylum - Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus

External links

ca:Jaleel White ar:جليل وايت is:Jaleel White it:Jaleel White he:ג'ליל וייט pt:Jaleel White simple:Jaleel White fi:Jaleel White sv:Jaleel White