Whatever Happened To Alfonso Ribeiro: America’s Greatest Tom Jones Dancer?

I wanted so badly to make this week’s WHT about Brazil’s defense in the World Cup (because seriously, what happened? They gave up ten goals in their last two games ON THEIR HOME TURF!), but I thought of something else instead:

Ladies and gentlemen, this week we’re checking in on the beloved Alfonso Ribeiro to see what he’s been up to since his days on Fresh Prince. That’s right: the well-dressed, well-educated, Tom Jones-dancing, awkward son-of-a-judge is taking his turn on the WHT stage, so let’s dive in.

Ribeiro was born in Riverdale, NY on September 21st, 1971. He began his acting career at the age of 8, which lead to his leading role in The Tap Dance Kid on Broadway in 1983:

In 1984 he appeared in a Pepsi commercial with Michael Jackson:

The kid at 0:28 gets me every time.

Ok, so by age 13 he was lead in a Broadway play and appeared in a commercial with the King of Pop, so it’s about time he takes a break before Fresh Prince, right? Child, please. He decided to release an instructional book called Alfonso’s Breakin’ & Poppin’ Book, which came with a fold out dance floor, two volumes of music, and a rap sheet.

I tried ordering the book for EB’s Ray Porreca, but it’s not available. There’s just some things even the internet can’t provide.

The same year, he appeared as Rick Schroder’s best friend on the NBC sitcom Silver Spoons. The show also featured Jason Bateman in a recurring role during the first two seasons.

In 1986, Ribeiro released a rap record called Timebomb. Here’s a little culture for your ears:

They just don’t make rap albums like that anymore.

Now we get to the juicy part; his pièce de résistance, his Mona Lisa, if you will. Carlton Banks. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air ran from 1990-1996 and Ribeiro was heavily involved in every season. He was constantly at odds with cousin Will (as one would expect when a Philadelphia native invades a wealthy southern California home), but they loved each other like brothers.

One of the running gags throughout the show is Carlton’s fantastic dance moves that my friends and I may or may not re-enact at clubs, weddings, and beach parties:

He stayed away from the cameras for some time after the show’s end, reappearing in 2008 as host of Catch 21 on GSN. He also directed a few episodes of Tyler Perry’s Meet The Browns, along with a majority of Are We There Yet? on TBS. Last year he started hosting another game show on ABC Family called Spell-Mageddon, in which students try to spell words while being shocked/dunked in suds/sprayed in the face/goo’d. It’s like Figure It Out, but with spelling.

Now I know I’ve included a bunch of clips and videos already, but I feel next two are the most important ones regarding Ribeiro (and possibly the most important videos ever). “How can that be?” you ask. “We already saw him as a tap-dance star. He hung out with Michael Jackson. Heck, he even had his own infomercial when he was 13.” I know, I know. Just trust me.

Here he is with Will, Jaden, and DJ Jazzy Jeff while Bradley Cooper and Heather Graham watch in awe:

And when flash mobs were cool:

So while he hasn’t had the major success Will Smith had following Fresh Prince, he’s been able to maintain while away from trouble (unless you count him swearing on I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here as trouble). He seems to have his head on straight, which is something you rarely see in celebrities these days.

Here’s how he’s looking:

“Making you a better geek, one post at a time!”

Tags : Whatever happened to
Nick Hershey

The author Nick Hershey

Nick was born and raised in Amish country, has a beard, but isn’t Amish. He’s a fan of winter as long as he’s at the top of a mountain with a board under his feet. He’s an avid sports fan, movie junkie, tv bum, and music enthusiast who still purchases CDs for some reason.