Reginald VelJohnson

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Reginald VelJohnson
VelJohnson in 2021
Reginald Johnson

(1952-08-16) August 16, 1952 (age 71)
EducationNew York University (BFA)
Years active1979–present
Known forCarl Winslow – Family Matters
Al PowellDie Hard

Reginald VelJohnson (born Reginald 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 Sergeant Al Powell in the films Die Hard and Die Hard 2.

Early life[edit]

VelJohnson was born Reginald Johnson, the son of Eva, a nurse’s aide, and Dan, a hospital attendant, on August 16, 1952, in the Queens borough of New York City.[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] and Johnson attended Benjamin N. Cardozo High School.[4]

He 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 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 alongside Tom Hanks, as Det. David Sutton, in Turner & Hooch (1989). He played 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. VelJohnson was hired after Gene Hackman, originally hired to play the role, became unavailable, and producers decided to hire a relatively unknown actor for the part.[9] He came from New York to California to film it for nine months, which was so long that he ended up residing in California permanently thereafter.[8][10] He later reprised the character in the 1990 sequel Die Hard 2.[8] VelJohnson again portrayed Sgt. Powell in the GameCube video game titled 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][10] Since the end of Family Matters, VelJohnson has done mostly voice and guest star work.[11] VelJohnson has made guest appearances in several TV shows, including The Equalizer, Diagnosis: Murder, Twice in a Lifetime, Will & Grace, Monk, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Eve, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Crossing Jordan, The Parkers, That's So Raven, and Bones. He had a minor role in the 2002 film Like Mike and a recurring role as Pastor/Brother Haywood on Mike & Molly. 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.[12] In 2008, 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's short HBO film titled Just 3 Boyz starring Tim Heidecker, Eric Wareheim, and Zach Galifianakis. He has appeared in the comedy film, The Formula, starring alongside Brandon Baker and Sasha Jackson.[13] He played air traffic controller Bob Abbot in the 2012 film Air Collision.

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.[14] VelJohnson also voices several minor characters in the series. He later reprised his role as David Sutton on Disney's Turner & Hooch.

In January 2023, VelJohnson began appearing in advertisements for Progressive as "TV Dad," a parody of his previous Carl Winslow role.[15]

Personal life[edit]

As of 2009, VelJohnson had homes in Raleigh, North Carolina, and Los Angeles, and resided primarily in Oceanside, New York.[16] He has never married and has no children. [9]



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 EMT
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 Cameo
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[17] 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'[18] Probation Officer Art Stephenson
Strike One[citation needed] Judge Morris
2018 Funny Story Hank
2019 Avengers: Endgame Fire Chief Scenes deleted
2020 The Very Excellent Mr. Dundee Reggie
2023 Glisten and the Merry Mission Snowy Owl Voice


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"
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Dr. Phillip Kane Episodes: "Face Lift" and "Gentle, Gentle"
2002 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"
Glory Daze Stan Turley Episode: "Papa Don't Pre-Game"
2010–13 Mike & Molly Brother Heywood 6 episodes
2011–15 Hart of Dixie Dash DeWitt Recurring role
2012–13 Tron: Uprising Able Recurring role
2012 General Hospital Reverend Love Episode #1.12632
Childrens Hospital Judge Lester Harrison Episode: "Children Lawspital"
The Mistle-Tones Holly's dad Television movie
2013 Real Husbands of Hollywood Himself Episode: "Tisha and Duane"
2015 Clipped Tommy 5 episodes
The Flight Before Christmas Joe Television movie
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"
Hitting the Breaks Chauncey van Delaware 5 episodes
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"
Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes on Television Captain Jackson #6 Episode: "Escape Room Escapades"
2018 Brooklyn Nine-Nine Himself Episode: "Bachelor/ette Party"
The Prayer Box Billy Television movie
2018–19 3Below: Tales of Arcadia Jerry (voice) Recurring role
2019–21 Lazor Wulf God (voice) Recurring role
2019 Mom Jim Episode: "Audrey Hepburn and a Jalepeño Pepper"
Pride and Prejudice: Atlanta Reverend Bennet Television movie
2020 Sydney to the Max Principal Linkenberry Episode: "Going the Green Mile"
2021 Turner & Hooch Mayor David "Dave" Sutton Recurring role
2021-Present Invincible Principal Winslow, Tether Tyrant (voices) 3 episodes
2022 Ghosts of Christmas Always Roy Television movie, Hallmark Channel
Denotes films that have not yet been released

Video games[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2002 Die Hard: Nakatomi Plaza Sgt. Al Powell [19] Voice and likeness only
Die Hard: Vendetta


  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). "Reginald VelJohnson". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on December 3, 2019. Retrieved May 18, 2020.
  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 Seemeyer, Zach (June 14, 2022). "'Family Matters' Star Reginald VelJohnson Talks Challenging Co-Stars and Being an Iconic TV Dad (Exclusive) | Entertainment Tonight". Entertainment Tonight. Retrieved June 18, 2022.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ "On this day in comedy... In 1952 comedian and actor Reginal VelJohnson was born!". Humor Mill Mag. September 16, 2016. Retrieved December 18, 2019.
  12. ^ "On the Lot: Episodes". Archived from the original on May 28, 2007. Retrieved May 28, 2007.
  13. ^ Smith, William. "Mixing 'The Formula' For Success". The Hawk Eye. Retrieved November 14, 2012.
  14. ^ Special Episode: Robert Kirkman and the Invincible Show, archived from the original on December 12, 2021, retrieved March 22, 2021
  15. ^ Conway, Jeff. "Actor Reginald VelJohnson Discusses His 'TV Dad' Progressive Commercials And His Professional Mindset At 70". Forbes. Retrieved March 9, 2023.
  16. ^ "The Three Gifts > Cast > Reginald VelJohnson". Hallmark Channel. 2009. Archived from the original on June 1, 2020. Retrieved December 18, 2019.
  17. ^ Cast list, Out at the Wedding closing credits
  18. ^ "'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.
  19. ^ Bits Studios. Die Hard Vendetta. Sierra Entertainment. Scene: Ending credits, 2:45:30 in, VOICE AND MOTION CAPTURE ARTISTS.

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