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FAMILY MATTERS

Source: ABC Photo Archives / Getty

You may not have considered this at the time, but there were several people in the Black community who really appreciated seeing two dark-complected Black people in love with one another on the show “Family Matters.”

That was Jo Marie Payton and Reginald Veljohnson as Harriette Winslow and Carl Winslow. Recently, the two spoke about the significance of their image on screen.

Payton, “He popularized big ole, wonderful, sexy men on tv. Chemistry was just magic. When we started doing the show, I mentioned to the producers I didn’t want heavy jokes and jokes about fat people. I didn’t want those jokes. One of those reasons was because I was a little heavier. He was so wonderful and so beautiful. I thought he was so sexy too. Look at his skin, even today. He has beautiful skin and he was the best smelling man I ever knew.

For me it was so natural, I didn’t really think about the fact that we were chocolate.

Reginald: Neither did I. We just loved each other. She is the easiest person to love.

Jo Marie: I thought it was wonderful that we could show that sexuality. I was not afraid to get close to Reggie. When we hugged, we really hugged. We were all in each other’s necks.

While they didn’t consider how others might perceive their image when it came to a dark-skinned guest star, a man who was going to portray a character named “Uncle Cornelius” they were protective.

“We were given a script. When I read it the first time, I didn’t say anything to anybody. I said, ‘I know they gon do a rewrite they’re going to take that out of there.’ Wednesday, that’s when all the extras came in. We performed it to time it up for everybody. They brought in Uncle Cornelius. Uncle Cornelius was as Black as Thelma’s pants. [Jaleel White] said, ‘Hi, Uncle Cornelius. How’s the baboon heart? Don’t let me catch you hanging from the chandelier.’ And the camera went on Uncle Cornelius and there he was, this very, very dark-skinned man. I was so upset. Then I told Reggie and then I heard some of the producers laughing. Cuz one of them said, ‘Put a banana in his hand.’ I said Reggie, you need to go and straighten this out because I’m about to tear the ceiling off the place. Go and straighten it out.”

Thankfully, he did and the joke never aired on television. You can watch Jo Marie reenact that disappointing moment in the video below.

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