30 Cool Facts About The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air

FUN FACTS June 12, 2019 By Hugo

From it's beginning in 1990 until its end six years later, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, a show about a street-wise teen who goes to live with his uncle in the affluent area of Bel-Air proved an unlikely hit and thanks to syndication deals; the show continues to attract new fans.

But as well as spawning the career of an A-list movie star and giving us a dance move fans have never forgotten, many of those very fans are unaware of the politics that went on behind the camera as well as some of the show's lesser-known facts.

NBC

Yes, the NBC show wasn't short on drama, and it's fair to say the show's production wasn't either.

Here are 30 Fresh Pince of Bel-Air facts you might not have known


1. The Show Almost Had A Reboot

NBC

A 2015 news reports sent fans into an online frenzy after it was reported that a reboot was in development by Overbrook Entertainment, with Will Smith reportedly serving as a producer.

However, with NBC showing little interest and other networks unwilling to pick it up, it's unlikely fans will be getting their wish anytime soon.  Netflix, are you reading this?


2. Jazz Being Booted Out Of The Banks' Home Was The Same Scene

NBC

No-good wheeler-dealer and local disk jockey Jazzy Jeff served as both an antagonist to Will's development but also a best friend in a world he didn't fit into. And more often than not his cheeky behaviour would get him in trouble with Uncle Phil who made a habit of throwing him out of the house and onto the street.

So funny and predictable was this running gag that producers decided to reuse the same scene. Look closer, and you'll notice Jazzy's outfit is the same.


3. The Show Never Got The Emmy Love

Shutterstock/ Benjamin Clapp

While the show will always remain a cult classic, those on the governing committee at the Emmys didn't acknowledge the programme's merits, at least not enough to give it an award.

It never truly got the recognition it deserved until later on in the intervening decades. 


4. One Of The Show's Most Emotional scenes Was Partly Improvised 

NBC

In the episode  "Papa's Got A Brand New Excuse," Will is left abandoned by his father once again after a promised holiday with him is cut short. Left with nothing but disappointment and anger, Uncle Phil consoles Will the best way he can as his nephew cries into his arms.

So intense was the final scene that cries came from the audience. What's more, James Avery's hug wasn't scripted.


5. The Catchy Intro Isn't The Full Song

NBC

The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air is synonymous with its catchy, infectious intro that makes even the most introverted of individuals sing along, but did you know that there's a full-length version?

At a more industry-standard length of 2 minutes and 52 seconds, the track can be found on YouTube.


6. Queen Latifah's dual roles

Shutterstock/ Kathy Hutchins

Even diehard fans of Queen Latifah might not remember that she starred in not one but two separate roles. Her first appearance saw her play the part of Hillary's boss. Her second was a more juicy character; Will's love interest.

It's fair to saw many women around the world were extremely jealous by the latter role.


7. A School Had To Shutdown After The Show's Theme Song Set Off An Alarm

Shutterstock/ sirpfoto

One school in America had to close down for the day because a student used the show's theme song as their voicemail message. While this sounds harmless, the student's absence from class caused the attendance secretary to call him.

After being sent straight to voicemail, the secretary mistook the lyric "shooting some b-ball outside of the school" as "shooting some people outside of the school" and contacted law enforcement. 


8. Will The Real Will Smith Please Stand Up

NBC

Most people assume that because the character was called Will, the show was tailor-made for Will Smith. However, thee names are different!

The actor's Christian name is short for William, while the character's name is short for Willard.


9. A Complete Novice

NBC

Will Smith transitioned into acting after a promising start to his show business career as a hip hop singer, but after many setbacks, NBC offered him a lifeline as the lead actor in a pilot. But Will had never acted in his life.

Still, the novice actor was determined to make a go of it, so much so that he made a habit of memorizing every single line from each teleplay, so he wouldn't get shown up by his more seasoned co-stars.


10. Despite Playing A Brat On The Show, Karyn Parsons Now Heads A Charitable Foundation

Shutterstock/ Everett Collection

It's fair to say that no one liked spoiled rich girl and constant Daddy's Girl Hillary Banks. She was jarring, shallow and at times, vapid beyond belief, but actress Karyn Parsons (second, right) couldn't be any different from her Fresh Prince character.

After her acting career started to phase out, she shifted her attention to charity work and founded Sweet Blackberry, a foundation that supports achievements within the African-American community.


11. Will Smith Only Joined The Show For The $$$

NBC

While Will Smith can now have the pick of any project in Hollywood, it wasn't always that way, and before he made a career for himself as an actor, he was one-half of the rap duo Dj Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince. 

But after finding success in the 1980s, Smith spent the bulk of his earnings while paying little tax, and it was only because of a $2.8m tax bill that he took up NBC's offer of a TV show titled, The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air. 


12. 70% Of His Salary Went To The Government

Shutterstock/Doug Shutter

After coming to an agreement with the IRS, the then 21-year-old would see 70% of his income from the show's first three seasons go straight to the IRS.

Thankfully, the show was a hit and went on for another three seasons, allowing Smith a clean financial slate. 


13. Will Smith Was A Novice Actor

Shutterstock/ Vicki L. Miller

It sounds strange to put the word novice and actor in the same sentence as the legendary screen actor, but it's worth remembering that Smith's early foray in the show business was as an MC artist rather than an actor. Only after Smith found success on the show did he leave music behind to focus on acting.

With that said, he did have one small acting credit to his name before The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. The Role? A T-shirt salesclerks on an ABC after-school special. 


14. He Was Embarrassed' By His Earlier Performances

NBC

It's fair to say that Will Smith wasn't exactly full of confidence when he first took on the role, something he admitted in the past when he recalled his embarrassment when watching his earlier performances.

"I was trying so hard," he said. "I would memorise the entire script; then I'd be lipping everybody's lines while they were talking. When I watch those episodes, it's disgusting. My performances were horrible."


15. Uncle Phil's House Isn't In Bel-Air 

NBC

While Uncle Phil's lavish Grecian mansion is located in a wealthy Californian suburb, it isn't located in Bel-Air.

Instead, and in the interests of those wanting to pay homage to the setting of their favourite show, it is located in Brentwood, at 251 N. Bristol Avenue.


16. Carlton's Iconic Dance Was Inspired By The Moves Of Two Celebrities

NBC

If you've ever been to a club and you haven't seen someone attempt to replicate the legendary 'Carlton Dance', then you haven't been partying in the right places. But as much as we'd like to believe the awkward dance was entirely original, it was modelled on the moves of the actors Courtney Cox and Eddie Murphy.

Explaining the creative inspiration behind the dance, Alfonso Ribeiro said, "There was a video of Bruce Springsteen and Courteney Cox called 'Dancing in the Dark,' and Bruce Springsteen pulls her up onto the stage and she basically does that dance. And it was also from Eddie Murphy’s Delirious comedy video where he does 'the white man dance.'  And what I did was ultimately take those two dances and combined them and made it my own, and made it my character’s."


17. The Physical Copy Of The Show's Soundtrack Is Hard To Find

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One of the best features about the six-year show was the uplifting and catchy soundtrack at the beginning as well as the handful of other cool tracks the show featured. But finding a physical copy of the soundtrack is harder than you'd think.

While you can stream the music on Spotify, finding a physical copy of the soundtrack is difficult due to the CD only getting a release in Holland.


18. Tyra Banks Made Her Acting Debut On The Show

NBC

Can you remember Will's hot girlfriend, Jackie, in an episode of season 4? She was a knockout, which isn't surprising when you realise it was a fresh-faced Tyra Banks.

The supermodel, who is now a household name in America, was a complete unknown to American audiences when she made her acting debut, and while she had experienced success as a model, her Fresh Prince appearance gave her the opportunity to begin a more lucrative career as a television personality.


19. Quincy Jones Is Not The Cab Driver

NBC

Many reputable sites, including IMDB, list the driver transporting Will to his new life as none other than Quincy Jones. But that simply isn't true.

According to Rashida Jones (Jones' daughter), as well as Will Smith's wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, it isn't him, a myth that is further dispelled when you realise that Jones has never driven in his life following the psychological repercussions from a car accident he was involved in at just 14-years-old.


20. Will Smith and Alfonso Ribeiro Were Allowed To Choose Their Character's Names

Shutterstock/ s_bukley

In an unusual move by studio executives, Will Smith and Alfonso Ribeiro, two of the show's main stars, were allowed to choose their character's names.

Being true to Carlton Banks, Alfonso urged Will Smith to be careful when selecting a name for fear of being typecast with it. So with that in mind, Will Smith lent his own name to his mischievous character. Genius, or what?


21. When Will Met Jada

Shutterstock/ Everett Collection

These two have been lovebirds for as long as we can remember, and while rumours continue to circulate around the strength of their marriage, the two are still together having first met on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air set. 

Ironically, Jada unsuccessfully auditioned for the role of Will's on-screen girlfriend, but in perhaps a sign of fate, she got into a relationship with him in real life instead.


22. Two Different Actresses Portrayed Aunt Vivian

NBC

For ardent fans, you probably already know this, but for those who don't let us clear up a theory your mind hasn't been able to solve for years: Janet Hubert didn't undergo plastic surgery! No, she simply got annoyed and left the show.

The reasoning stemmed from a dispute Hubert had in her contract which didn't let her take on other work, leading to her to quit the show altogether, while other rumours have suggested that she didn't get on with Will Smith. Because of her grievances, the role of Aunt Vivian was given to Daphne Maxwell instead, who played Aunt Viv for three seasons.


23. After Four Seasons The Show Got Cancelled

NBC

Despite the show's popularity, NBC decided to pull the plug after four seasons and originally intended to have Will's character moving back to the mean streets of Philadelphia in the final episode. However, mass complaints led studio bosses to revert the decision and continue it for another two seasons. 

Moreover, the opening credits to season five humorously illustrated this when an NBC executive placed Smith into a van and drove him back to California, telling him "It's called the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, not The Fresh Prince of Philadelphia."


24. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Is Watched In Many Prisons- Including Guantanamo Bay

Tickld

As well as watching and enjoying the seven Harry Potter films, prisoners incarcerated in prisons as dangerous as Guantanamo Bay watch episodes of the NBC show when out of their cells, and it is supposedly their favourite.

Yes, even in prisons housing some of the most dangerous people in the world, Will and Carlton's on-screen antics can still be enjoyed.


25. Daphne Maxwell Gave Up Acting To Run A Photo Blog

Daphne Maxwell

Will Smith may be synonymous with Hollywood fame, but the rest of the cast haven't found the same success, and while some still find regular acting work, others, such as Daphne Maxwell, have given up the profession altogether.

Instead, Maxwell, who portrayed Aunt Viv for the last three seasons now runs a photography blog and is married to actor Tim Reid of 'Sister, Sister' fame.


26. Will Smith's Rubik Cube Skills Are Real

NBC

Will was always up against it whenever it came to competing with his goody-two-shoes cousin, Carlton Banks, yet that didn't stop him wowing professors at Princeton University with his ability to quickly solve a Rubik Cube.

But it wasn't staged. It's been a skill of Will's for some time, a skill he also showed in his Oscar-nominated performance as the aspiring stockbroker, Frank Gardner. 


27. The Show Endorsed A 'Bel-Air' Themed Pair Of Air Jordans

YouTube/ Seth Fowler

 Fans of the famous trainer are probably unaware of the limited edition Jordans designed for the much-loved show. 

Called, 'Air Jordan 5 Bel-Air', the shoes now retail for around $300 online but are incredibly hard to find.


28. Actors Of Many Talents 

NBC

Will Smith and Alfonso Ribeiro were the stars of the show, but their talents extended behind the camera, too. 

Will Smith wrote a script for an episode, while Ribeiro directed an episode in season 5. So not only did they get to choose their character names, but they also got to direct and write. Not a bad gig for two young actors.


29. Will Smith Encouraged The Writers To Tackle Serious Issues

NBC

As well as being allowed to choose his character name and write an episode, his views around the show's storylines were also taken on board after the comedy 'Roseanne' inspired him.

A TV comedy which was known for tackling serious issues, Smith wanted the NBC show to go in a similar direction, and because of his insistence, the show spawned some powerful moments, which tackled everything from racial injustice to the effects of coming from a single-parent background.


30. The Cast Kept A Diary

NBC

Following the death of James Avery, who played the loveable Uncle Phil, Karyn Parsons, who played Hilary Banks, revealed to ABC News that the cast kept a diary in the drawer of the set's kitchen island.

Taking it with her after the show ended, she said that looking back at it, helps her deal with his death. "Every now and then a camera person or the actors, somebody would just write silly poetry or 'James is getting on my nerves,'" she recalled. "We would make little notes, so I took that. I need to pull that out, especially now that James has passed, because I know he's written in there. I know he was written about."


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