Friday, February 8, 2013

Whatever Happened To: The Cast of "Home Improvement"

It's time to return again to some pop culture from your childhood (well, my childhood; and yours if you're in your 20s or maybe your 30s). Home Improvement was neatly ensconced within the 90s, with a run from 1991 to 1999. It followed the host of a Detroit-area home improvement television show in both his professional and family life. And given that this was a 90s sitcom, there was quite a bit of slapstick and family humor involved. So what happened to the people involved in this show?

Tim Allen (Tim Taylor)

(variety.com)

Tim "The Tool Man" Taylor is the macho, slightly chauvinist lead of the show as well as the host of the show-within-the-show Tool Time. His projects typically end in disaster thanks to his constant attempts to supercharge them with "more power!" although Tim is also shown to be highly competent in auto restoration and a few other builds. Although often obstinate and selfish, Tim was also shown to be a caring father and husband.

(aceshowbiz.com)

Tim Allen got into comedy on a dare, starting with stand-up acts. This coincided with a rather unsavory start to adulthood, namely an involvement in cocaine trafficking. After he was caught with 1.4 pounds of the stuff at a Michigan airport in 1978, he cooperated with investigators to put other dealers away and wound up serving two years and four months in prison. He managed to revive his comedy career after his release, although he was arrested for DUI in 1997, near the end of Home Improvement's run, and sentenced to a year of probation. Since the end of the show, Allen has starred in a number of critically panned comedy films as well as some more memorable pictures including The Santa Clause, the Toy Story trilogy, and GalaxyQuest. Now 59, Allen is currently starring in the sitcom Last Man Standing and also has his own line of power tools.

Patricia Richardson (Jill Taylor)

(tbs.com)

Jill was the typical suburban mom that appeared in quite a few sitcoms of the time. She was usually a little frazzled by Tim's constant shenanigans and the stress of raising three sons, and slowly working toward getting a psychology degree. There was also a running joke that Jill was a terrible cook.

(peoplequiz.com)

Patricia Richardson, now 61, earned a BFA in acting from Southern Methodist University and spent some time acting in plays. She picked up a number of minor TV roles in the 1980s before Home Improvement. She next appeared as Dr. Andy Campbell in Strong Medicine as well as a recurring role as Sheila Brooks on The West Wing. She has continued acting in a few movies and is active in an organization seeking a cure for progressive supranuclear palsy.

Zachery Ty Bryan (Brad Taylor)

(glamour.com)

The oldest of Tim and Jill's sons, Brad was best known for his relative popularity and athletic ability, including a proficiency at soccer. He struggled academically at times but still managed to earn a college scholarship near the end of the series. Despite getting in trouble on a few occasions and sometimes clashing with his parents, Brad also got along well with Tim through common interests such as auto restoration.

(thedaily.com)

Zachery Bryan (he's dropped the Ty) had parts in a few family movies during his Home Improvement run, but started to transition to other roles with appearances in films such as Carrie 2: The Rage in 1999 and The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift in 2006. He graduated high school the year after the show ended. Since the end of Home Improvement, Bryan (now 31) has scored guest roles on a number of TV shows including ER, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Smallville, and Burn Notice. His last acting role was as Thor in the 2009 SyFy movie Hammer of the Gods. He founded the production company Vision Entertainment Group in the same year. He's had a producer credit on four movies since then, most recently Rogue River and The Grief Tourist in 2012. He also joined a couple of partners in opening the Hollywood sports bar "Big Wangs," although he later sued them in 2010 for allegedly using profits for personal expenses.

Jonathan Taylor Thomas (Randy Taylor)

(fanpop.com)

Randy's character was best known for his intelligence, as he quickly found himself in advanced classes. He mocked or traded barbs with Brad on occasion but more often than not the two teamed up for some common cause (quite often picking on younger brother Mark). Randy was also a bit of a smart aleck and in one "very special" episode he had to cope with a potentially serious medical condition. The character was essentially written out of the last season as Randy went abroad to study in Costa Rica.

(actclassy.com)

I remember there was a time when most of the girls I grew up with were in love with "JTT." Taylor's popularity helped him land a number of movie roles complementary to his time on the show, most notably as the voice of young Simba in The Lion King. His career slowed after the end of Home Improvement but he was still able to pick up guest roles on several popular series including The Wild Thornberrys, The Simpsons, and Veronica Mars. After graduating high school in 2000, he attended Harvard University for two years, studied abroad in Scotland, then took a lengthy leave from school and finally completed his studies at Columbia University in 2010. He hasn't really made any waves since then aside from remarking that he might want to get into directing. His last on-screen role was the Veronica Mars episode in 2005, followed by a directing credit for the short film The Extra in 2006.

Taran Noah Smith (Mark Taylor)

(fanpop.com)

The youngest Taylor lad, Mark started off in the "cute little kid" role and as an eager assistant in Tim's shenanigans. He was also a frequent target of pranks concocted by Brad and Randy, although at times all three brothers would team up. As the actor got older (and a lot taller) Mark became more of a loner and a goth.

(people.com)

Taran Noah Smith, now 28, had a much rockier post-show experience than his peers. The show led to a falling out with his parents, as he accused them of misusing his earnings from the show and in 2001, when he was 17, he sued for control of that money. The same year he married Heidi Van Pelt, a woman nearly twice his age, and the two began a vegan restaurant and non-dairy cheese manufacturing business named Playfood out of their Los Angeles home. The couple divorced in 2007 and the house went into foreclosure the same year, after which it was apparently trashed by vandals. The duo went through another court battle soon after when Van Pelt tried to gain control of Playfood. Smith reportedly won control of the company but it is unclear if he has managed to keep it going. The whole affair led him to reconcile with his parents, who apparently opposed the marriage from the start. In 2012, Smith was convicted of DUI and marijuana possession and sentenced to probation, a drug diversion program, and a fine.

Richard Karn (Al Borland)

(tumblr.com)

Al was Tim's perpetually put-upon co-host on Tool Time, a frequent victim of Tim's backfiring fixes as well as jokes about his beard, flannel outfits, mother, and numerous other things. Despite this, the two remain good friends. Al gets married later in the series. And for some reason, the Wikipedia entry on Home Improvement characters at the time I'm writing this particular section has a whopping five subsections for Al Borland. Someone likes their fictional TV friends/co-workers.

(zimbio.com)

Richard Karn, now 56, graduated from the University of Washington with a drama degree and got his role on Home Improvement through a stroke of luck. Though the show had already cast Borland's character, Karn met a casting agent while answering a traffic citation in court and was brought on board after the original choice (Stephen Tobolowsky) had to drop out. It was the first major role for Karn, who is still appearing mostly in family comedies. After Home Improvement, his most prominent role was as a game show host, including a four-year stint on Family Feud.

Earl Hindman (Wilson Wilson Jr.)

(fanpop.com)

Wilson was the friendly next door neighbor of the Taylors, typically offering advice to Tim although he spent a lot of time in his yard so he frequently helped out other members of the family at times as well. Wilson apparently acquired his wisdom through globetrotting adventures, given that he was involved in cultural studies and had a number of eccentric artifacts in his home. A running sight gag was that Wilson's face was always obscured by the fence or some other object. Wilson's full name was revealed later on in the series, and Earl Hindman joined the rest of the cast with his face in the clear for the final bows.

(showbizgeek.com)

Prior to Home Improvement, Hindman was best known for portraying Bob Reid in over 450 episodes of Ryan's Hope. He was a villain in the original The Taking of Pelham One Two Three as well as The Parallax View. Hindman had fewer roles after Home Improvement ended, with a couple of guest roles on Law & Order and a part in the 2001 movie Final. He died of lung cancer in December of 2003 at the age of 61.

Debbe Dunning (Heidi Keppert)

(realm-o-tigger.com)

Heidi was Tool Time's sexy "Tool Girl" assistant, introducing the show and helping out around the set. She occasionally figured more into a plot, experiencing a bit of martial trouble and having two kids over the course of the show.

(tvland.com)

Debbe Dunning started out in modeling and advertising before landing the role on Home Improvement. She has been married to volleyball player Tim Simmons since 2007 and, like her character, she has two children. Her first role was in the 1989 movie Dangerous Curves, with a few appearances on shows such as Boy Meets World and Baywatch as well. Her last acting role was as Hope Lorca in the series Wicked Wicked Games.

9 comments:

  1. If you maintain distributing effectively prepared articles or blog posts just like this then I will often keep returning back again to your weblog. Really excellent content.

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  2. ups.. it's not really about home improvement, right?

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  3. This is good common sense blog and another informative blog. I glad to read it and thanks for sharing it...

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  4. One of the funniest comedy series I have ever seen :) Great work You done! Nice to take a look on photos with my comedy "heros" :)

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