Jaleel White Shares Surprising Detail on Steve Urkel's Original 'Family Matters' Plans

Family Matters star Jaleel White was only intended to play Steve Urkel on the sitcom in one [...]

Family Matters star Jaleel White was only intended to play Steve Urkel on the sitcom in one episode, but the character quickly gained a life of his own and became a mainstay on the show, the former Dancing With the Stars contestant revealed. White, 44, said he was not initially welcomed by his co-stars, who were overshadowed by Urkel. Family Matters aired from 1989 to 1998, with Urkel being introduced partway through the first season as the nerdy neighbor to the main Winslow family.

"I was not welcomed to the cast at all," White recalled in a preview of his upcoming Uncensored interview. "They know what it was … I didn't think anything of it being cast to be on Family Matters, because it was supposed to only be a guest spot, one and done." The clip also shows White discussing his relationship with Michelle Thomas, who starred as Myra Monkhouse, who became Urkel's girlfriend.

"Michelle Thomas became a very special person. I literally cannot say her name or I'll cry," White said in the preview. Thomas died in December 1998 following a battle with a rare form of cancer. White's Uncensored interview will air on TV One Sunday at 10 p.m. ET.

Although Urkel was supposed to be a one-time character, he quickly took on a life of his own. He became the definition of a nerdy character on television, with several running gags and familiar catchphrases. White even played Urkel on other shows, appearing in episodes of Full House, Step By Step, Fuller House, and the animated Scooby-Doo and Guess Who?. "He took a character who was kind of funny on paper... and brought him to life," Family Matters co-creator William Bickley told PEOPLE in 2000. Urkel also became the focus of the show, which led to "a lot of hurt feelings," actor Reginald VelJohnson added in 2000.

In 2011, White admitted his relationship with VelJohnson was "definitely strained" at first when Urkel's popularity took off. "There's no sense in hiding that," he told Vanity Fair at the time. "There was a division between myself and the rest of the cast, but over nine years and 215 episodes, obviously relationships get better. I still talk to certain cast members to this day."

Family Matters was a spin-off of Perfect Strangers and created by Bickley and Michael Warren. It debuted on ABC before moving to CBS for its final season. The show focused on the Winslow family and starred VelJohnson, Jo Maire Payton, Rosetta LeNoire, Darius McCrary, Kellie Shanyge Williams, Jaimee Foxworth, Bryton McClure, Telma Hopkins, Shawn Harrison, Michelle Thomas, and Orlando Brown. The show is available to stream on Hulu.

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