I think it is only fair that I put my biases right up front. The role that made Jaleel White a star, Steve Urkel, is an abomination IMO. I never could watch him for more than fifteen seconds much less an entire show. But this node is about the actor, and I hope I do him justice. If you have a problem with this writeup, /msg me, and I will do my best to fix it.

Born to dentist Michael White and wife Gail on November 27, 1976, this Pasadena, California, native is on the way to doing what few television child stars have been able to do — grow up and succeed in show business. In 1989 a young boy looking like the consummate geek had a guest spot on the hit series, Family Matters, playing "Laura's First Date" (the name of the episode). What followed was nine years of playing Steve Urkel, arguably the most annoying character on television at the time.

As a toddler, White demonstrated extraordinary wit and talent (according to Urkelnet, link below) and always made people laugh. His preschool teacher suggested to Mr. and Mrs. White that the child should be in showbiz. They enrolled him in acting classes and was quickly picked up by a talent agent. His first gig was in a Goodyear tire commercial at the age of 3. By age 9, he had done 30 commercials, including a Jello ad with Bill Cosby.

Commercial appearances were just the beginning, however. The mid-1980s brought a string of guest appearances on a number of sitcoms, including The Jeffersons. In 1989 a guest appearance in the 13th episode of Family Matters brought Jaleel White into our home with a wheezy, whiny voice, too-big glasses, high water trousers, cardigan sweater and red suspenders. Urkel was born. After the overwhelming viewer response to the character, Urkel was made into a regular cast member, eventually the central one. He even took the show on the road by appearing as Urkel on Full House and Step by Step.

In 1998, Family Matters went off the air, but White stayed busy with bit parts and voice talent roles. Then he was given the opportunity to play a more grown up character on the sitcom, Grown Ups. The sitcom didn't last more than a year, however.

In the course of his career, he done more than act; he has also written, directed, and produced. Presently, he is studying film at UCLA.


Film & television credits:
Commercials beginning at age 3
MFTVM Silence of the Heart (1984) as Henry
MFTVM Kids Don't Tell (1985)
The Jeffersons (1985)
Charlie and Company (1985-86) as Robert Richmond
MFTVM Leftovers (1986) as Jake
Family Matters (1989-1998) as Steve Urkel. He also made appearances on Full House and Step By Step in this role.
MFTVM Camp Cucamonga (1990) as Dennis Brooks
Urkel's Other Side: Jaleel White Special (1992) as star and director
Voice of Sonic the Hedgehog in the animated series (1993)
Diagnosis Murder (1993) as himself
Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1993) as Kevin and (1996) as Derek
Quest for Camelot (1998) as voice of Bladebeak
Our Friend, Martin (1999) as voice of Martin Luther King Jr.
Grown Ups (1999) as J. Calvin Frazier and Executive Producer
Sonic Mania (1999) as voice of Sonic, Manic, and Sonia
Numerous appearances on talk shows, including Howard Stern's and Arsenio Hall's.

The Internet Movie Database

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