Reginald VelJohnson

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Reginald VelJohnson
Reginald VelJohnson, 2021 (579134550).jpg
VelJohnson in 2021
Reginald Vel Johnson

(1952-08-16) August 16, 1952 (age 69)
EducationNew York University (BFA)
Years active1979–present
Known forCarl Winslow – Family Matters
Al PowellDie Hard

Reginald VelJohnson (born Reginald Vel Johnson; August 16, 1952) is an American actor. He is best known for playing police officer characters such as Carl Winslow on the sitcom Family Matters, which ran from 1989 to 1998, and LAPD Sgt. Al Powell in the films Die Hard and Die Hard 2. He played air traffic controller Bob Abbot in the 2012 film Air Collision.

Early life[edit]

VelJohnson was born Reginald Vel Johnson on August 16, 1952, in the Queens borough of New York City, the son of Eva, a nurse’s aid, and Dan, a hospital attendant.[1] His father left the family, which included Reginald's brother Barry,[2] when Johnson was 13 years old. Their mother subsequently married John Reilly.[3] Johnson attended Benjamin N. Cardozo High School where he was classmates with George Tenet.[4] He later obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts in theater from New York University, where he had a chance to work with Joseph Papp's Black/Hispanic Shakespeare Company, in which Morgan Freeman and CCH Pounder were among his fellow actors.[5][6] Early in his acting career, he changed his name from Reginald Vel Johnson (his birth name) to Reginald VelJohnson. He later said he changed the spelling "because I wanted a name people would remember."[7]


VelJohnson is known for playing police officers in films and on television. His early career included a brief appearance in Ghostbusters (1984) as a municipal corrections officer, and an appearance in Crocodile Dundee (1986) as a limo driver.[8] VelJohnson played a police officer alongside Tom Hanks in Turner & Hooch (1989). He would also play an ambulance driver in Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins (1985) in which he was credited by the stage name Ivory Ocean.

VelJohnson had his breakthrough role[5] as Sgt. Al Powell in the 1988 film Die Hard. He came from New York to California to film it for nine months, which was so long that he just ended up residing in California permanently thereafter.[8][9] He also later reprised the character in the 1990 sequel Die Hard 2.[8] VelJohnson again portrayed Sgt. Powell in the GameCube video game title, Die Hard: Vendetta, in 2002.

In 1989, VelJohnson was cast as the memorable police officer and family patriarch Carl Winslow in the ABC (later CBS) sitcom Family Matters, alongside Jo Marie Payton, who played his wife Harriette Winslow. It was a spinoff of the popular show Perfect Strangers on which he appeared only once, though Harriette appeared as a re-occurring guest star. He starred on the show until it ended in 1998.[5][8][9]

Since the end of Family Matters, VelJohnson has done mostly voice and guest star work.[10] VelJohnson has also made guest appearances in several TV shows, including The Equalizer, Diagnosis: Murder, Twice in a Lifetime, Will & Grace, Monk, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Eve, Crossing Jordan, The Parkers, That's So Raven, and Bones. He also had a minor role in the 2002 film Like Mike.

In 2007, he appeared in the short films Reverse, Nerve Endings, and Time Upon A Once which were made during the reality show On the Lot.[11] The following year he appeared as the "Sgt. Al Powell" character from the Die Hard series in an episode of NBC's Chuck titled "Chuck Versus the Santa Claus", as the cousin of Big Mike (Mark Christopher Lawrence). In 2010, VelJohnson started a recurring role as Principal, later Superintendent, Strickland on the Disney sitcom I'm in the Band and also's short HBO film titled Just 3 Boyz starring Tim Heidecker, Eric Wareheim, and Zack Galifianakis. He has also appeared in the comedy film, The Formula, starring alongside Brandon Baker and Sasha Jackson.[12]

In 2021 VelJohnson voiced Principal Winslow in the animated adaptation of the comic Invincible. In both the comic and the television series the main character attends a high school named after the actor, and the character itself is named after his previous role of Carl Winslow from Family Matters.[13] VelJohnson also voices several minor characters in the series. He later reprised his role as David Sutton on Disney's Turner & Hooch.

Personal life[edit]

As of 2009, VelJohnson had homes in Raleigh, North Carolina, and Los Angeles, and resided primarily in Oceanside, New York.[14]

VelJohnson was the subject of an internet hoax when, on February 13, 2017, a website reported that the actor had died as a result of a heart attack. The fact-checking website Snopes proved the claim to be false and VelJohnson took to Twitter to demonstrate he was alive.[15][16]



Year Title Role Notes
1981 Wolfen Morgue Attendant Credited as Reginald Vel Johnson
1984 Ghostbusters Corrections Officer Credited as Reggie Vel Johnson
1985 Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins Ambulance Driver
1986 Crocodile Dundee Gus
1988 Plain Clothes Captain Graff
Die Hard Sgt. Al Powell
1989 Turner & Hooch Detective David "Dave" Sutton
1990 Die Hard 2 Sgt. Al Powell
1991 A Fond Little Memory[citation needed] Short film
1993 Posse Preston
2000 Ground Zero Burt Green
2002 Like Mike Mr. Boyd
2005 Sunday Evening Haircut[citation needed] O.C. Short film
Producer, writer
Suits on the Loose[citation needed] Brother Steedman
Death to the Supermodels Tom Direct-to-video release
2006 Hidden Secrets[citation needed] Norman Wexler
2007 Three Days to Vegas RJ Jackson
Out at the Wedding[citation needed] Dexter
2009 Steppin: The Movie Mr. Shavers
2010 Jelly[citation needed] Joe Woods
You Again Mason Dunlevy
2012 Brother White[citation needed] Hill
Air Collision Bob Abbot
2013 The Formula[citation needed] Professor Millan
2014 12 Dog Days Till Christmas'[17] Probation Officer Art Stephenson
2015 The Flight Before Christmas Joe Made for TV Movie
2018 Funny Story Hank
The Prayer Box Billy Made for TV movie
2019 Avengers: Endgame Fire Chief Scenes deleted
2020 The Very Excellent Mr. Dundee Reggie
TBA Easter Alven In development


Year Title Role Notes
1985–88 The Equalizer N/A (1985)
Harmon Hunter (1986)
Arthur Williams (1988)
Episode: "Lady Cop"
Episode: "Dead Drop"
Episode: "Sea of Fire"
1988 227 The Santa Thief Episode: "The Night They Arrested Santa Claus"
1989 Perfect Strangers Carl Winslow Episode: "Crimebusters"
1989–98 Family Matters Carl Winslow Main role, 215 episodes
1992 Tales from the Crypt Hotel Guest Episode: "Werewolf Concerto"
1993 Dream On Santa Episode: "Silent Night, Holy Cow"
1994 A Cool Like That Christmas[citation needed] Dad (Voice) Television movie
One of Her Own Det. Bob Hymes Television movie
1996 Deadly Pursuits Ed Conroy Television movie
1998 Diagnosis: Murder Dr. David Sinclair Episode: "The Last Resort"
1999 The Hughleys Rev. Bennett Episode: "Daddy's Going to Hell"
2000 Twice in a Lifetime Dr. David Bryant Episode: "Whistle Blower"
2001 The Fugitive Maurice Beaumont Episode: "Lagniappe"
2002 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Dr. Phillip Kane Episodes: "Face Lift" and "Gentle, Gentle"
Crossing Jordan Mr. Holden Episode: "Someone to Count On"
Will & Grace Dr. Kaplan Episode: "It's the Gay Pumpkin, Charlie Brown"
2003 The Parkers Sterling Oglevee Episode: "A Sterling Relationship"
2005 That's So Raven Dikembe, The Ambassador Episode: "The Royal Treatment"
Ghost Whisperer Danny Small Episode: "Undead Comic"
2006 Eve Rev. Everett Episode: "Oh, Brother"
Monk Todd Episode: "Mr. Monk and the Class Reunion"
2007 On the Lot Neighbor in 'Time Upon a Once' Episode: "11 Cut to 10 & 10 Directors Complete"
Bones Dale Owens Episode: "The Santa in the Slush"
2008 Chuck Sgt. Al Powell Episode: "Chuck Versus Santa Claus"
2009 The Three Gifts[citation needed] Rodney Smith Television movie
Family Guy Sgt. Al Powell Episode: "Brian's Got a Brand New Bag"
2009–11 I'm in the Band Principal/Superintendent Cornelius Strickland Recurring role
2010 Funny or Die Presents Christopher Episode: "Just 3 Boyz"
The Bold and the Beautiful Ed 2 episodes
Meet the Browns Ernie Wilson Episode: "Meet the Baby Daddy"
2011–15 Hart of Dixie Dash DeWitt Recurring role
2011–13 Mike & Molly Brother Heywood 5 episodes
2012–13 Tron: Uprising Able Recurring role
2012 General Hospital Reverend Love
The Mistle-Tones Holly's dad Television movie
2013 Real Husbands of Hollywood (Season 2) Himself Tisha and Duane
2014 Strike One[citation needed] Judge Morris
2015 Clipped Tommy (Buzzy's Husband)
The Flight Before Christmas Joe Played husband of "Marie" (Jo Marie Payton, who also played Reginald's wife on Family Matters)
2016 It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia Judge Melvoy Episode: "McPoyle vs. Ponderosa: The Trial of the Century"
Girl Meets World Officer James Episode: "Girl Meets True Maya"
Ray Donovan Sherman Radley Episode: "Norman Saves the World"
2017 Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero Mr. Flannigan (voice) Episode: "My Mischievous Son"
2018 Brooklyn Nine-Nine Himself Episode: "Bachelor/ette Party"
2018–19 3Below: Tales of Arcadia Jerry (voice) Recurring role
2019–2021 Lazor Wulf God (voice) Recurring role
2019 Mom Jim Episode: "Audrey Hepburn and a Jalepeño Pepper"
2019 Pride and Prejudice: Atlanta Reverend Bennet Television Film
2020 Sydney to the Max Principal Linkenberry Episode: "Going the Green Mile"
2021 Turner & Hooch Mayor David "Dave" Sutton Recurring role
2021 Invincible Principal Winslow (voice)

Video games[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2002 Die Hard: Vendetta Sgt. Al Powell Voice and likeness only


  1. ^ "Reginald VelJohnson Biography (1952–)". Retrieved June 7, 2010.
  2. ^ "Reginald Veljohnson [sic]". Archived from the original on September 18, 2015. Retrieved March 21, 2018.
  3. ^ "Reginald Veljohnson Biography". Yahoo! Movies. Archived from the original on July 12, 2012. Retrieved June 7, 2010.
  4. ^ "QConfidential". Queens Tribune. New York City. Archived from the original on July 15, 2010. Retrieved June 7, 2010.
  5. ^ a b c Hill, Michael E. (November 25, 1990). "Reginal VelJohnson". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on December 3, 2019. Retrieved December 18, 2019.
  6. ^ "Reginald Vel Johnson: Class of 1975". New York University Grad Acting Alumnni Association. Archived from the original on April 7, 2019.
  7. ^ Buck, Jerry (November 16, 1989). "Reginald Veljohnson of 'Family Matters' reminisces". The Dallas Morning News.
  8. ^ a b c d Thompson, Simon (November 2, 2018). "Reginald VelJohnson Talks 'Die Hard' At 30 And 'Crocodile Dundee' Sequel [Interview]". Contributor. Archived from the original on June 1, 2020. Retrieved December 18, 2019. Note: Forbes magazine in its website's legal notices states Forbes contributors are not staffers and are under no editorial oversight. They are personal blogs.
  9. ^ a b Dawn, Randee (November 7, 2018). "Reginald VelJohnson reveals how 'Die Hard' helped him get cast in 'Family Matters'". Today. Retrieved December 18, 2019.
  10. ^ "On this day in comedy... In 1952 comedian and actor Reginal VelJohnson was born!". Humor Mill Mag. September 16, 2016. Retrieved December 18, 2019.
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on May 28, 2007. Retrieved May 28, 2007.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ Smith, William. "Mixing 'The Formula' For Success". The Hawk Eye. Retrieved November 14, 2012.
  13. ^ Special Episode: Robert Kirkman and the Invincible Show, archived from the original on December 12, 2021, retrieved March 22, 2021
  14. ^ "The Three Gifts > Cast > Reginald VelJohnson". Hallmark Channel. 2009. Archived from the original on June 1, 2020. Retrieved December 18, 2019.
  15. ^ LaCapria, Kim (February 16, 2017). "Reginald VelJohnson Death Hoax". Archived from the original on June 1, 2020. Retrieved June 1, 2020.
  16. ^ VelJohnson, Reginald [@rveljohnson] (February 15, 2017). "Twitter literally trying to kill me!" (Tweet). Archived from the original on June 1, 2020. Retrieved July 11, 2018 – via Twitter.
  17. ^ "'12 Dog Days Till Christmas': Claflin event includes screening of S.C.-made film". The Times and Democrat. Orangeburg, South Carolina. April 5, 2015. Archived from the original on March 22, 2018. Retrieved December 17, 2017.

External links[edit]