Jaleel White became a household name for his portrayal of the geeky Steve Urkel on the hit 90s series, “Family Matters.” Urkel was a pop-cultural phenomenon during the show’s run. The nerdy but lovable character even had his own dance. This led some of his co-stars to resent the child star.

One of his co-stars was not a huge fan. Jo Marie Payton played family matriarch Harriette Winslow on the show. Urkel acted as a comic foil to the family, constantly trying and failing to woo daughter Laura Winslow while often getting into sticky situations due to his awkward nature. Some of that came out behind the scenes as well.

In a recent interview with Entertainment Tonight, Payton talked about Jaleel White’s on-set behavior. The legendary TV mom said he was out of control. At one point, he even tried to start a physical fight with her.

“There was one time he actually wanted to physically fight me. [There was a scene where] I said we can’t do that, standards and practices will not let that pass, it’s not gonna happen. He wanted to do it anyway… He was so mad, he started kicking and screaming and stuff.


He said something about, ‘She must want to melee.’ I said, ‘What’s a melee?’ He said, ‘A fight.’ I turned around — if he wanna fight, I would. Darius [McCrary, who played Eddie Winslow] grabbed me. I was gonna whip his behind.”

Jo Marie Payton went on to blame the adults on set for allowing Jaleel to get out of control. She said she still keeps in touch with a lot of the cast and crew. Regardless of who was in charge of wrangling the child actor, Jo was ready to throw down with Urkel at one point.

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Michael Perry

Michael Perry is a news contributor for Ringside News and Thirsty for News. Michael has an M.A. in Communication Technology from Point Park University in his hometown of Pittsburgh, PA.

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