'Family Matters' Co-Star Reveals Jaleel 'Urkel' White Wanted to 'Physically Fight' Her

A member of the Family Matters cast has revealed a shocking incident from behind the scenes of the hit '90s show. JoMarie Payton, who starred as Harriette Winslow for almost the entirety of the series' nine seasons, sat down with Entertainment Tonight and shared a remarkable memory from her time on the show.

Jaleel White's Steve Urkel was the biggest star of Family Matters, and Payton spoke candidly about how the newcomer's fame may have influenced his attitude on the set."There was one time he actually wanted to physically fight me," Payton noted, citing the episode "Original Gangsta Dawg," in which White appeared as OGD, Steve's "gangster" cousin. "[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," she continued. "Darius [McCrary] grabbed me. I was gonna whip his behind." In retrospect, Payton says she understands that White was "just a kid" and does not think he deserves "all the credit" for what he did.

"I give some of those adults credit too," she added. "Letting him run wild and do whatever he wanted to do, thinking he can say what he wants to say, you know, and hurt people's feelings and all that." It wasn't the only time Payton's temper flared. Another example of her displeasure was the abrupt firing of Jaimee Foxworth, who played Judy, the youngest Winslow sibling, during the show's initial four seasons. "For me, it was a bad decision," Payton said. "When I asked what happened to her, as she wasn't at rehearsal, I was told that it didn't matter. Nobody's gonna notice." 

"They took my baby," she continued. "If they had taken the oldest child the way they did with The Cosby Show and they put her off in another show, you could make excuses that she's out with her friends. She could reoccur, you could do whatever you want to. But when you take the baby?"

As for Payton, she says she tried her best to let the hard feelings go and focus on what made the show special to her. "I did love all of my Family Matters crew," she noted. "I've kept in touch with a lot of them, I see them on other shows... I love them all. We had incredible writers, I love them, and they know who my issue was with. It wasn't with the entirety of them."

If there is a Family Matters reboot or reunion, she is willing to reconnect with the cast and crew. "You know what I tell people? I never say never." Currently, the actress is reprising the role of Suga Mama Proud on the Disney+ revival series The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder, which was recently renewed for a second season.