Obscure Minutiae: Here's to Reginald VelJohnson


Obscure Minutiae is our occasional too-up-close look at pop culture of the past and present. Reginald VelJohnson has this funny way of creeping back into my life again and again. The burly, jolly character actor is best known for his supporting roles in Die Hard as John McClane sidekick Sgt. Al Powell and on 1990s sitcom Family Matters as Carl Winslow, the grumpy foil for teenaged nerd Steve Urkel.

But look closely, and you'll find him all over the place -- in Ghostbusters as, you might guess, a jail guard, in Turner & Hooch as, of course, Det. David Sutton, in Chuck as Powell yet again and now in The CW show Hart of Dixie, stunningly not as a member of law enforcement.

Reginald VelJohnson in Hart of DixieI dare say VelJohnson is my favorite character actor of all-time. Nine times out of 10, he seems to be playing a man in blue. 10 times out of 10, I'm always happy to see his wide grin, round belly and baritone voice. It doesn't hurt that he has an insanely memorable and badass name either.

VelJohnson. Reginald. OoooooOOOoooOOhhh.

Anyway, if I have to pick a favorite role of VelJohnson's -- and there are plenty to choose from -- I'm going with Sutton in Turner & Hooch. Die Hard is all about John McClane and I always found Carl Winslow a little bit too dour.

No matter what cop VelJohnson played that you found most appealing, you have to hope, like me, that television and movie casting directors keep calling his name. If you don't, you're either racist or you can't appreciate a good mustache when it's right under your, ahem, nose.