In 1989, rapper Will Smith was approached by NBC about possibly starring in his own sitcom. The end result was “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” and although the show wasn’t big in the ratings, it managed to gain a massive fanbase which it has retained to this day. This show, which lasted six seasons on NBC, helped elevate Smith’s acting career, leading him to a plethora of Oscar and Golden Globe nominations. It also gave the world the beloved Carlton Dance and helped revive the music career of Grammy Award winning artist Tom Jones.
Click through to learn 12 fresh facts about the Fresh Prince!
12) Will Smith As Will Smith
When thinking of a name for his character, Will Smith was told by co-star Alfonso Ribeiro that whatever name he picked is what folks would call him for the rest of his acting career. He thought long and hard about it, and finally came up with the name Will Smith.
11) Jazz Getting Tossed Out
One of the most memorable things about the show is Will Smith’s best friend Jazz consistently getting thrown out of the house. They only shot one take of it, though. DJ Jazzy Jeff had to wear the same shirt in episodes where he would be removed by Uncle Phil.
10) The Carlton Dance
The Carlton Dance is one of the most beloved dances to come out of the ’90s. The dance was inspired by Courteney Cox’s dance in the Bruce Springsteen music video for “Dancing in the Dark.” Alfonso Ribeiro can’t escape the dance; he performed it during the 19th season of “Dancing With The Stars,” which he won.
9) On The Verge Of Cancellation
Due to low ratings, the show was nearly canceled on three different occasions. TV station managers from across the country begged NBC to keep the show on the air. The season finales for seasons three through five were actually shot as though they would be the final episodes of the entire show!
Characters from the show made appearances on other NBC series. Under his rap persona The Fresh Prince, Will Smith made an appearance in the “Blossom” episode “I’m With The Band.” Hilary Banks appeared on the “Blossom” episode “Wake Up Little Suzy” and the “Out All Night” episode “The Great Pretender.” With the exception of Nicky, the other members of the Banks family (Vivian, Phillip, Carlton, and Ashley) and Geoffrey appear on several episodes of “In The House.”
7) Can’t Work Well With Others
The cast on the show got along like family except for Janet Hubert-Whitten, who played Vivian Banks. Nobody on the cast got along with the Chicago native, and she was released from the show after season three. Although she has talked about how Will Smith was a diva and got her fired, the other cast members have stated that it wasn’t true.
6) Dramatic Moments
While the show has delivered on the laughs, it also brought some serious topics to bear as well. Episodes such as “Papa’s Got a Brand New Excuse” and “Bullets Over Bel-Air” are some of the most memorable episodes. After watching some emotional moments on “Roseanne,” Will Smith asked producers to touch upon some serious topics.
5) The IRS Is Coming
When the show started blowing up, Will Smith started to see his bank account grow and his popularity rise. Unfortunately, he was in some severe trouble with the IRS before the show premiered. For the first three seasons of the show, he was forced to hand over 70% of his pay to cover outstanding back taxes.
4) Not Like The Character
On the show, Will Smith is someone that’s not afraid to flirt with all of the ladies. His most noticeable girlfriend on the show was Lisa Wilkes, who was portrayed by Nia Long. In real life, the actor states that he was pretty shy around the ladies as a teen.
3) Out All Night
In 1992, producers decided to create another show set in the “Fresh Prince” universe. The show was titled “Out All Night,” and it starred Patti LaBelle as nightclub owner Chelsea Paige. MC Hammer, Mary J. Blige, and Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch were among to musical artists that appeared on the show. Unfortunately, it was canceled during its first and only season.
2) Law Firm
In the show, Phillip Banks’s law firm is Firth, Wynn, and Meyer. Obviously, this was a nod to influential R&B group Earth, Wind, and Fire. Show producer Quincy Jones, who is one of the most iconic stars in music history, proclaims to be the biggest Earth, Wind, and Fire fan of all time.
1) Nicky Banks’ Full Name
Nicky Banks was brought onto the show for the last two seasons. On the episode “‘Twas the Night Before Christening, he was named Nicholas Andrew Michael Shawn Nathan Wanyá Banks after a performance from Boyz II Men at his christening. These middle names stemmed from the names of the members of the band.
Rumors of a possible reboot of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” directed by leading star Will Smith surfaced online in the summer of 2015, but the following year, the actor revealed that no reboot will be ever be taking place in the near future. Whether this statement was a complete swerve on the public or the real thing, fans of the show can easily enjoy their favorite moments with “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” DVD box sets, which has been flying off the shelves. They can also catch the series in syndication on various channels around the world.