Hometown: New York City, NY
School: California State University
Family: Divorced from actor Robin Stapler, daughter named Sienna
Trademark: "The Carlton," a goofy dance named for his character on the sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel Air
How He Got His Start in Showbiz:
Alfonso Ribeiro was quite likely born to be a star. At the tender age of 10, he got his first major television role in the PBS dramatic series Oye Willie. The show only aired for one season, but it was enough to put Ribeiro on his path as a successful child actor. During this time, he also appeared in the Broadway musical The Tap Dance Kid. This particular part caught the eye of one Mr. Michael Jackson, who hired Ribeiro to be in some of his Pepsi Cola commercials in the early 80s.
While acting on television and singing and dancing on Broadway, Ribeiro also tried his hand a pop music, releasing several singles between the ages of ten and thirteen. His reputation as a well-rounded entertainer was quickly taking shape.
Best Known Roles:
In 1984, Ribeiro was cast as actor Ricky Schroeder's best friend in the hit sitcom Silver Spoons. He filmed a total of 72 episodes of Silver Spoons before the show went off the air in 1987.
Three years later, Ribeiro returned to sitcom television as Carlton Banks, Will Smith's uptight cousin on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. It was on this show that the dance "The Carlton" was born, and became an instant classic. This dance has become something of a legend in itself, with Ribeiro continually being asked to perform it even to this day.
The Fresh Prince of Bel Air was an extremely popular show and lasted for six years, with Ribeiro appearing in all but four episodes.
Other Television Appearances:
Ribeiro faded from mainstream television somewhat after The Fresh Prince of Bel Air ended. He took on one other sitcom, called In the House, which starred LL Cool J and aired originally on NBC before being moved to UPN.
After a few appearances in commercials and music videos, Ribeiro was one of the competitors on the reality show Celebrity Duets. With his talent for singing and entertaining, he handily won this competition. He's hosted Your Big Break, Crush Week on Nick at Nite, and recently appeared as a talent scout on Last Comic Standing.
Always a man of many talents, Ribeiro has also produced and directed various programs, and appeared in a handful of big screen movies.
Ribeiro is the host of GSN's original game show Catch 21. He's also been a "child star" contestant on The Weakest Link, appeared on Dancing With the Stars, and was featured in an episode of The Singing Bee.
- Ribeiro is an avid race car fan and driver, and won the Toyota Grand Prix Celebrity Race twice, in 1994 and 1995.
- There was a rumor in the early 1980s that Ribeiro had died during the filming of a Michael Jackson Pepsi commercial. He had reportedly snapped his neck while performing a break-dance head spin. Of course, these rumors were false.
- Ribeiro is an avid golfer and plays in various celebrity golf tournaments around the country.
Alfonso Ribeiro Quotes:
"You never really understand how difficult it is to host a game. All of a sudden … I'm the person who navigates the game for the contestants, and I have to be aware of all the possibilities and all of the different things that could happen in the game." – from an interview with Alex Davis at BuzzerBlog, on hosting Catch 21
"That was the most amazing thing. Michael Jackson was my idol. I loved him to death. I could dance like him. I could sing like him, and it was great career-wise." – on being "discovered" by Michael Jackson in the 80s while on Broadway, from an interview with Upscale magazine