’90s TGIF Stars: Where Are They Now?


Last week, we indulged our curiosity by checking in with some of our favorite ’90s Nickelodeon stars. Turns out we weren’t the only ones who were wondering what happened to Sam from Clarissa. The response was huge. So we’ve decided to another round. You see, if SNICK was our Saturday night standby as kids, it was ABC’s TGIF lineup that we looked forward to on Fridays. Obviously, you know where the Full House gang is now: Stephanie’s an ex-meth addict, Joey is an Alanis Morissette song, Michelle is a pair of alien mini-moguls, Danny has a dirty mouth, and The Gibbler is married with two kids. But if you’re wondering what happened to Family Matters‘ Waldo Geraldo Faldo, Rider Strong from Boy Meets World, and the entire cast of Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper, we’ve got the answers.

Family Matters , 1989-1997

No series is synonymous with TGIF like this long-running ’90s staple that was itself a Perfect Strangers spinoff. When we were kids, most people simply called it “the Urkel show.” So, of course, we’re going to have to start by checking in with Steve Urkel himself. Since hanging up his glasses, Jaleel White has been more Stefan Urquelle, if you know what we mean. In 1999, he starred in the short-lived UPN sitcom Grown Ups . Since then, he’s mostly been taking roles in smallish films and guesting on TV shows. But you may remember him from a small part in 2006’s Dreamgirls. Off the screen, White earned a BA from UCLA Film School in 2001. You can follow him on Twitter and watch his most recent project, 2009’s Road to the Altar, a web series about a black man marrying a younger Jewish woman, here.

So, what about Urkel’s lady love, Laura Winslow? Kellie Shanygne Williams has been on and off TV since the series wrapped, popping up as a recurring character on Eve, The Parkers, and Moesha. Like White, who was a close friend of Williams’ on set, she attended UCLA, where she studied psychology. Since then, she’s done a great deal of charity work and gotten married to a lucky man named Hannibal Jackson. Last year, she appeared in Steppin’: The Movie alongside her former TV dad, Reginald VelJohnson. Carl Winslow is still a fixture, if not quite a star, on the big and small screen, where he has basically made a career out of playing a cop. But it seems his true love is the theater, where he’s done most of his post-Family Matters work. VelJohnson’s on-screen wife, JoMarie Payton, spent the first half of the ’00s as the voice of Suga Mama on The Proud Family. She’s also played recurring characters on Moesha and Will & Grace. And did you know that in 1999, she release the jazz album Southern Shadows ?

The Winslows’ other notable offspring (let’s be honest, no one cares about the youngest two), Darius McCrary, has had a busy and diverse career. These days, you can watch him as Malcolm Winters on The Young and the Restless. If, however, you’re more of a torture porn fan, you may have spotted McCrary in last year’s Saw VI. Like his TV mama, the erstwhile Eddie Winslow is a musician, and he’s currently readying an album for an August 3rd release. Listen to his music here. You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter. Of course, any update on the Family Matters crew would be remiss to exclude Eddie’s daft buddy, Waldo Geraldo Faldo. Shawn Harrison spent 2002-2007 playing the flamboyant, gay Peaches on the series Girlfriends. And a few years ago, he voiced Timber Wolf on the Kids’ WB show Legion of Superheroes. The last we heard from Harrison, he was sitting down for an interview this April with his friend Judith, a proud 37-year-old virgin. It seems he’s single and not ready to marry and was also a psychology major at UCLA.

Boy Meets World, 1993-2000

Over seven seasons, we watched Cory Matthews grow up, from junior-high nerd to, well, college nerd. Perhaps that’s why we feel such a connection to this cohort of young stars, who were always a few years ahead of us in the teenage rites of passage department. So, where is Ben Savage, the titular boy, now? Fred’s little brother has done a bit more acting, appearing in independent films and guesting on shows like Chuck. Smart Savage also graduated from Stanford in 2004, where he was a Poli Sci major and a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity. But here’s the part that might depress you: He interned for Arlen Specter, when the Pennsylvania senator was still a Republican. It doesn’t necessarily mean he’s right-leaning… so we’re going to forget we knew that. We’d prefer to focus on the fact that he does charity work for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. In 2006, there was a rumor that Savage had died in car accident. For a while, it landed the actor at the top of IMDb’s STARmeter. We were glad to see Snopes debunk it.

Savage may have been the star of Boy Meets World, but how about the shaggy-haired heartthrobs that got tween girls addicted to the show? Rider Strong (a name that got a lot of pun mileage on our playground) played Cory’s BFF, Shawn Hunter. Another brain, Strong went to Columbia and graduated Magna Cum Laude in 2004. Two years later, he co-starred in the short-lived WB series Pepper Dennis . What really endears us to Strong, though, is his current career as a writer, director, and producer of low-budget horror films — a career he collaborates on with his brother, Shiloh. The pair made 2008’s Irish Twins together and is currently acting in a producing Darking Sky . You can also find Rider on Twitter. As for the show’s other staple hottie? Cory’s airhead older brother Eric Matthews is known to his family as Will Friedle. In real life, Friedle went to Occidental College, a school his on-screen alter ego could never have hoped to attend. Interestingly, for an actor known for his looks, Friedle is doing mostly voice gigs these days, for video games and cartoons including Batman: The Brave and the Bold, The Secret Saturdays, and Kim Possible. According to Buzzfeed, this may be because he got fat. (Hey, they said it, not us.)

As much as we may have adored Will and Rider, every geek girl’s favorite Boy Meets World character was Topanga Lawrence. Danielle Fishel has appeared in a few movies, most notably the two National Lampoon Presents Dorm Daze films. But in the second half of the ’00s, she became most famous for losing weight on NutriSystem, something she advertised on Tyra Banks’ talk show. After that, she became Tyra’s special correspondent. Early this year, it was news that she regained some weight and is totally okay with it. Seeing as she’s all of 126 pounds, we’re glad she’s not beating herself up. More importantly, Fishel is now hosting Style Network’s The Dish .

Step By Step, 1991-1998

When Suzanne Somers (as Carol Foster Lambert) met Patrick Duffy (as Frank Lambert) and her studious, persnickety kids were forced to share rooms with his wild sports enthusiast offspring, the families united to form a modern-day Brady Bunch, minus the camaraderie. These days, Dallas alum Duffy is spending the twilight of his career on The Bold and the Beautiful, while Somers went to Broadway to star in the autobiographical one-woman show The Blonde in the Thunderbird, written books on diet, hormone replacement therapy (she’s for it), and alternative methods of curing cancer based on a scare she had a few years ago. Her website sells everything from artificial sweetener (Somersweet!) to a device called the FaceMaster that looks like it could be used in elaborate torture rituals.

So, where can we find the Lambert kids these days? Although Brandon Call, who play oldest son J.T., had a busy career as a child actor, Step By Step appears to have been his last TV role. That may or may not have something to do with the fact that he was shot in traffic while taping the show’s final session. Unfortunately, ladies, he is not this guy. Christine Lakin, who you’ll remember as tomboy Al, is still working — a lot. If IMDb is to be believed, she’ll be in no fewer than eight films this year. One of them will be Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2. She also had the honor of starring alongside Paris Hilton in one of the worst-reviewed movies of all time, The Hottie and the Nottie — because apparently everyone looks awful next to Paris. Lakin also managed to graduate from UCLA with a BA in Communications and found time to do some stage acting. There’s currently a Facebook campaign to get the actress, who is a big favorite of lad-mag underpants spreads, on Dancing with the Stars . The real mystery is Josh Byrne, who played the youngest Lambert, Brendan. He mysteriously vanished from Step by Step‘s last season and hasn’t appeared on IMDb since. The most recent sign of him we can find is via a highly suspect 2006 message board post: “Josh is into role playing games & loves anything to do with pirates. He’s 6’5” & weighs 305 lbs. But he’s very depressive, sceptical & pessimistic these days, doesn’t like to talk about his Step By Step years. In fact, he doesn’t have any fond memories at all.”

As for the Fosters, Staci Keanan (Dana) is yet another actress who went to UCLA, where she studied art history. It seems she returned to the screen in the mid-’00s, when she began starring in… Christian films! Like last year’s pro-life morality tale, Sarah’s Choice . We don’t think Dana Foster would have approved. Keanan’s TV sister, fashion plate Karen, also took some time off for college when the show ended. Unfortunately, Angela Watson may have had trouble paying for it, as her parents tried to screw her out of nearly three million dollars. The experience inspired her to start the organization Child Actors Supporting Themselves, which is now under the umbrella of Hugs America, a group that pairs celebrities with local charities. Watson continues to be the larger organization’s spokeswoman. She’s also appeared in some movies and theater productions. Like the littlest Lambert, the smallest Foster, Mark (Christopher Castile) has fallen off the face of the earth since Step by Step ended. The most recent update we could find was from 2002, when he was in college and engaged.

Last but not least, what ever became of Cody Lambert, the family’s stoner (or just stupid?) cousin? Sasha Mitchell had to leave the show early, after he was arrested (and later acquitted) on domestic violence charges. We remember being heartbroken. He worked on and off on film and TV through the mid-’00s, including a recurring bartender role on ER. He’s divorced from the wife he was accused of beating and has four kids.

Sister, Sister, 1994-1999

This show was premised around the teenage reunion of twins separated at birth, portrayed by real-life identical twins Tia and Tamera Mowry. Tia’s career has had two major prongs: She is apparently at the center of some major Bratz media blitz, providing the voice for cartoon versions of the dolls. And from 2006 to 2009, she co-starred on Girlfriends spinoff The Game. In April, BET confirmed that it would pick up the canceled show and begin producing new episodes. These days, she has several films in production, is married to actor Cory Hardrict, and has over 250,000 followers on Twitter.

Tamera has also had a full career since Sister, Sister ended. In the mid-’00s, she was on the cast of medical drama Strong Medicine. She also starred in 2009’s ABC Family comedy Roommates, which was canceled after a single season. Tamera also maintains a popular Twitter account (135,000 followers), where she bills herself as, among other things, an inspirational speaker. The sisters are working together again on the TV movie Double Wedding .

You may recall that the twins had TV parents, too: Jackée Harry was Tia’s flamboyant mom, Lisa Landry. After guesting on a handful of shows and appearing in a few movies, Harry landed the role of Vanessa on Everybody Hates Chris. The show ended in 2009. Tim Reid, who played Tamera’s dad, Ray Campbell, has also shown up here and there throughout the last decade. He did have a recurring role on That ’70s Show, and it’s unclear whether his small part as a New Orleans judge on David Simon’s Treme will continue.

Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper , 1992-1997

Does anyone actually remember this show? It must have been popular in its time, to last five seasons, but we haven’t heard anyone breathe a word about it in years. It starred Mark Curry as the titular Mr. Cooper, a former pro basketball player who is now a substitute teacher and coach. He lives in his best friends Robin (Dawnn Lewis) and Vanessa’s (Holly Robinson Peete) den. And, somehow, he didn’t seem particularly depressed about it.

Once the show ended, Curry did a few recurring roles on shows including Drew Carey and Jamie Foxx. He appeared in some TV movies. Here he is in the video for Bow Wow’s “Take Ya Home.” Since 2005, his roles have been more sparse, but he’s still a touring standup. Check out some of his comedy here.

Holly Robinson Peete has been much busier on the small screen, starring in one show after another: For Your Love (1998-2002), One on One (2001-2002), Like Family (2003-2004), Love, Inc. (2005-2006). Since her last series wrapped, Peete has been working on small films and TV movies. The wife of retired NFL quarterback Rodney Peete and the mother of four children, she has also become an author. Back in 2005, she co-wrote Get Your Own Damn Beer, I’m Watching the Game: A Woman’s Guide to Pro Football , and a few months ago, she and daughter Ryan Elizabeth published the children’s book My Brother Charlie. Recently, Peete, who has an autistic son, competed on Celebrity Apprentice to raise money for autism research. She and her husband also run the foundation HollyRod, an autism and Parkinson’s charity. You can follow her on Twitter.

As for the rest of the cast: Dawnn Lewis, who only lasted one season on the show, has also been getting a lot of work. She’s done a ton of voice acting, in cartoons like Futurama and countless comic book adaptations, and has guested on TV shows including One Tree Hill and The Secret Life of the American Teenager. She’s also a musician. Back in 2006, she released the album Worth Waiting For. Curry’s new roomie, Geneva (Sandra Quarterman), spent some time on the TV show Strange World around the turn of the millennium but hasn’t popped up on IMDb since 2006. Of course, we all know what happened to her Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper daughter, Raven-Symoné: Like every other kid who landed on the Disney channel, she’s now an international brand. Marquise Wilson, who played the roommates’ pesky neighbor, hasn’t done much TV work in the past several years, but you may recognize him as the voice of Mario in Super Smash Bros.

Sabrina, the Teenage Witch , 1996-2003

We bawled over the end of Clarissa Explains It All but were relieved to hear that Melissa Joan Hart was poised to do high school all over again as Sabrina. Since we already covered her in our Nickelodeon update, you can read up on how she’s spent the post-Sabrina years here.

As for the supporting cast there were, of course, Sabrina’s odd couple aunts, Hilda (Caroline Rhea) and Zelda (Beth Broderick). Rhea, a stand-up comedian, recently starred alongside the late Rue McClanahan on the short-lived Logo show Sordid Lives: The Series . She’s also the voice of the mother character on the cartoon Phineas and Ferb. Broderick has had numerous small movie and TV roles since leaving Sabrina, and Losties will remember her stint as Kate’s pathetic, diner-waitress mom. She also hosted the first three seasons of The Biggest Loser before being replaced by soap opera actress Alison Sweeney. She is a writer and stage actress, too. As for Nick Bakay, you may have noticed the voice of Salem as Gus on The King of Queens and Karl on ‘Til Death.

We were sure we’d keep seeing Nate Richert, who played Sabrina’s high-school boyfriend, Harvey, on TV. Alas, he doesn’t have any post-2006 IMDb credits. Perhaps that is because he’s now a bluegrass musician. Listen to him revive Americana music here. Sabrina’s pal, Valerie (Lindsay Sloane) has had an extensive movie and TV career. Did you catch her in Nancy Drew or on the quickly canceled series The Stones? Jenna Leigh Green (Sabrina’s nemesis, Libby Chessler) has made guest appearances on a handful of shows. Broadway fans will know her best as Wicked‘s Nessarose; she’s currently reprising her role in a film version of the musical.

Honestly, Sabrina’s college years were a strange blur to us. But we know you’d want us to check in with her one notable roommate, Soleil Moon Frye, better known in the ’80s as Punky Brewster. It seems she spent a lot of time with the Family Matters mom as the voice of Zoey on The Proud Family and Tia Mowry as part of the Bratz empire. In cooler news, she also did some great guest spots on Robot Chicken. Perhaps the best thing she did, last year, was revive Punky.