Tim Allen’s Complicated Career And Family Mishaps

Tim Allen has had success on both television and film. There are many surprising facts about his off-screen life, though, which will change your view of the TV dad.

Car Stolen By Fake Son?

A customized Chevy Impala was stolen from Allen’s Los Angeles garage and recovered thousands of miles away in Denver. This was no ordinary robbery; in an outlandish turn of events, the thief, Faustino Ibarra, claimed to be Allen’s adopted son. Police said Ibarra was a stalker of Allen’s, and the star had in fact reported the car as stolen.

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Michigan Gear Only

Although Tim started his college education at Central Michigan University, he eventually transferred to Western Michigan University. He has a lot of pride for his former schools along with all those in the State of Michigan. To show his pride and support, Tim Taylor, Allen’s on-screen alter ego on Home Improvement, would wear apparel from various Michigan schools. The colleges and universities knew this, so they would send t-shirts and sweatshirts for Allen to wear. This was an exclusive deal- only Michigan schools would get free promotion.

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Buddies With Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs was a visionary who revolutionized the tech world. Tim Allen has always been a lover of technology; he got famous by talking about power tools and gadgets on stage and on the screen. He and Jobs became friends, and their relationship was based on “mutual interests in technology, in life, and religion.” Allen said they had a steady stream of communication, whether it was through text or email. However, when Allen started offering Steve design tips, the CEO wasn’t so quick to respond.

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Attended Trump Inauguration

On a now infamous interview with Jimmy Kimmel, Allen talks about his attendance of Trump’s inauguration. Although Allen was not gung-ho for Trump, he was invited to the veterans’ inauguration ball, and he went to support the troops. When talking to Kimmel, he was defensive about his attendance, saying that he didn’t want to be attacked by the generally liberal Hollywood community. Allen compared the liberal thespians to fascist Germans, a comparison that drew much criticism from Jewish leaders.

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Spent Two Years Behind Bars

Allen strayed from the law during university and began trafficking illegal substances. In 1978, he got caught with so many substances that he could have spent life in prison. Through a plea deal where he informed on higher up criminals, he ended up serving only two years and four months before being paroled. He has some advice: “don’t ever sell [substances] to policemen- they don’t like it, they tend to tell judges, people come get you, and then you eat very bad food for a long time.”

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Judge Saw His Talent

The Honorable Patrick Macauley was looking over court documents regarding Allen before sentencing him to prison, and saw that many said he had a knack for making people laugh. Based on these documents, along with his own personal interaction with Allen, the Kalamazoo Country Circuit Judge told Allen to do his time, and to come back to society and do what he does best- comedy. The judge bluntly told Allen, “I expect you to be a very famous comedian.” Macauley was evidently a great judge of character.

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From Prison To Disney Family

In an interview with ABC, Tim recounts how he got two phone calls in two consecutive days. The first was from his parole officer, letting him know he was finally and officially a free man. The second call was from Jeffrey Katzenberg, the chairman of Walt Disney Studios, letting Tim know they wanted him to be part of the Disney family. From this phone call came Home Improvement, which eventually got him an Emmy nomination, even after revealing to the press he had served time behind bars.

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Second Arrest And Rehab

Despite the scarring tragedy of his father’s car accident, Tim still drank and drove for many years. In 1997, he was caught doing so by a police officer. Allen was so drunk he could not recite the alphabet past the letter “O”. Probation and rehab defined his life for the next year, and he was able to get sober. He found the whole experience humiliating, and that he was lucky that he didn’t hurt himself or others in those years.

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Divorce From College Sweetheart

Small arguments between Allen and his longtime partner Laura Deibel over vacation preferences (museums vs. car factories) blew up into bigger ones that would end in their divorce in 1999. Laura was an unbelievably committed partner, staying with Allen despite his prison sentence, and was always there to give him support at stand-up shows. Unfortunately, Tim says by having such strong career ambitions he, “let [his] family slide.” The couple officially separated after 15 years of marriage and finalized their divorce 4 years later.

Remarried To An Actress

Following his divorce, Allen dated actress Jane Hajduk for five years before re-marrying. Jane has been in Allen’s movies like Zoom and The Shaggy Dog. The wedding was attended by Tim’s daughter from his first marriage, Kady. Jane and Tim had a child as well: Elizabeth. The fact that he has two daughters closely parallels his on-screen alter ego Mike Baxter in Last Man Standing, where his wife and three daughters make it tough for him to be a stereotypical man.

Father Died Early In Car Accident

Tim’s father, Gerald M. Dick, was a real estate agent. Unfortunately, he was killed by a drunk driver while on his way home from a football game. Tim was only 11 years old. This was scarring to Allen; it got him on a self-destructive path that eventually led to his legal troubles. He was then raised then by his stepfather, his mother’s high school sweetheart. Allen has drawn upon this early trauma to build his trademark character Tim Taylor, whose father passed away early as well.

Has Faith In A Builder

Tim is a religious person, and in general, he doesn’t advertise the fact widely, although he spoke candidly during an ABC interview about it. He was raised Episcopalian, and has probably gotten some religious influence during the process of becoming sober as well. But Allen frames his meaning and drive in life by asking, “whoever put me here, the builder, what did you want me to do?” Reality to Allen is just too strange to be an accident, so he strives for a relationship with “the builder.”

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Car Collector

Instead of continuing a life with an excess of consuming substances, Tim became obsessed with something safer: cars. Like fellow celebrity car collectors Jerry Seinfeld and Jay Leno, Allen has a massive warehouse filled with cars from all eras and countries, which he works on himself. Allen has a Ferrari in the garage, but he races cars using a modified 1993 Mustang. He even had a race on camera versus Leno. It’s no surprise cars are a frequent topic that comes up in his stand-up comedy act.

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No Fear

Success is a double-edged sword: on one hand, you’ve made it, and have money and fame. On the other hand, now you have money to lose. Allen went from a life as a felon to a rich and famous comedian, but his close friend Ken Calvert said that Tim does not fear losing it all. Allen would be the same person, and would go back to his job working at a sporting goods store, which is the job he held after college, in the company’s marketing arm.

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Third In Line

When Sofia Copolla wrote Lost In Translation, she wrote it with Bill Murray in mind as the main character. The same story holds for Santa Clause— their first choice was Murray. When he turned it down, they offered the role to their backup: Chevy Chase. Finally, they offered the role to Allen, and the movie made $189 million worldwide. The same thing happened to Allen before being cast in Toy Story: first they offered the voice-over role to Jim Carrey, then to Billy Crystal. Third time’s the charm.

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1994 Trifecta

Allen made a huge success out of his life despite early trouble. To really understand how well he was doing professionally, take a look at this extremely fortunate week Tim had in 1994; he had at the same time, a number one box office hit, television show, and book. This truly shows he was a prolific artist who is overflowing with creativity. Allen also won many awards, including a Golden Globe in 1995, and amazingly 8 consecutive People’s Choice Awards from 1992 through 1999.

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Razzie Nomination

Many awards sit on the mantle of Tim Allen, including a Golden Globe and multiple People’s Choice Awards. He also has plenty of nominations: primetime Emmy and Razzie award. The Razzie is the nickname for the Golden Raspberry Awards, which is for the worst portrayals on film. Allen was unluckily nominated in 2007 for three of his 2006 flops: The Santa Clause 3, Zoom, and The Shaggy Dog. Luckily he didn’t ‘win’ but he did ‘win’ a 2006 Stinkers Bad Movie Awards for the same movies.

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Bad Santa

Tim told a story to Craig Ferguson on the Late Late Show about a faux pas on the set of The Santa Clause. Allen admitted to swearing by accident in front of the child actors on set. He recounts that some responsible folks rushed to the scene to tell the kids a little white lie: that Allen had said something in Swedish relating to lunch. The kids were luckily protected. Allen is embarrassed about that incident and says he was a different guy back then.

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Roots In Scotland

Tim uses a stage name- his real name is Timothy Allen Dick. He’s apparently heard every joke there is about his family name. On the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, Tim recounted how he and his family looked into their genealogy, and traveled to Germany to find their family. However, upon arrival and further digging, they learned that there was a mistake. Their family name was not German, but it turned out that it was Scottish! Tim likes to joke that there are, “a lot of Dicks in Scotland.”

ABC Sent Him To Acting Coach

Allen was discovered by network executives as a stand-up comedian, and besides a couple of high school improv classes, he had no real acting experience. Nervous, the executives sent him to an acting coach, David Regal, who had Tim practicing Shakespeare. Allen suspects that they just wanted to see if he could memorize lines. He admits that his emotional range as an actor is, “strictly limited. I can only play a part if I can draw on personal experience, and that well can go dry pretty quickly.”

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Doubts Of A Mother

On The Tonight Show, Allen talks about the doubts his mother had about him becoming a comedian. Martha Dick, Allen’s concerned mother, wanted Tim to either sign up to be in the army, civil service, or the postal service. When he finally got his first paycheck from ABC for Home Improvement, he showed his mother, who remarked, “aw, that’s absurd!” He recounted with comedic exaggeration that his mother was shocked he could memorize his whole stand-up routine, as she thought he was a stupid child.

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Signature Grunt

Famous lines from movies like “you had me at hello” live forever in our minds. Allen has come up with a less sophisticated (yet easy to remember) trademark: grunting. He spells it R-R-R, but nothing is quite like hearing him make the primal cry. It has become an obsession for some- there is a compilation video of all 662 grunts from all 203 episodes of Home Improvement.  His caveman grunt is even sampled and featured in the theme song of Home Improvement.

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Hollywood Walk Of Fame

One of the most popular tourist destinations in Hollywood is the Walk Of Fame, where star-shaped monuments are on the sidewalk honoring people who made a huge impact on the entertainment industry. In November 2004, Allen got the honor of having a star added on the South Side of the 6800 block of Hollywood Boulevard. His TV wife Patricia Richardson gave a speech in his honor, wistfully remembering funny moments on set. This honor literally sets in stone Allen as a creative, successful artist.

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Murse With Six Phones

Allen is fascinated with all things cars and technology. Altogether, he usually carries six gadgets–different phones mostly– he does not have the pocket space for them. In a surprising move for the grunting, high testosterone, car racing man’s man, Allen admitted to Ellen Degeneres on her show that he carries a murse (an abbreviation of man purse which he can wear on his shoulder if he wants). Ellen gifted the comedian a Home Improvement inspired gift for him: a toolbelt that can carry all his gadgets.

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Seedy Shows

Tim Allen had some major success as a stand-up comedian, with two specials filmed in the early 1990’s. However, before he made it big, he had to play some pretty seedy joints, he told Steve Harvey on his talk show. Tim went on stage in between male adult entertainers, which although strange, was apparently lucrative at the time. The issue is that the crowd was not there to see comedy, so he was harassed whilst on stage, and even had his watch stolen by drunk audience members.

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Author Of Two Books

In college, Allen majored in communication, with a focus on radio and television production. However, he tried his hand at another medium: books. His first book, Don’t Stand Too Close to a Naked Man, recounts his time in prison with a humorous lens. The book did very well, and even beat out a book by the Pope. Allen joked that he only outsold the Pope due to his willingness to sign books. His second book, I’m Not Really Here, is a philosophical look at his life.

Honorary Degree From Alma Mater

Allen was recognized officially in 1998 for being a huge supporter of Michigan, specifically of his alma mater Western Michigan University. They presented him with an honorary degree at commencement, and Allen gave his remarks to the 1500 new graduates. Tim gave the students three pieces of advice: first, remember at least one professor who truly inspired them, secondly, to set goals for their lives, and finally to, “to make bold choices in life, than to make no choices at all.”

Started Comedy On A Dare

Stand-up comedy is not something that comes naturally to everyone. In fact, public speaking is consistently listed as people’s top fear. Tim always had a knack for comedy; he reckons he developed a sense of humor very early on. One of his friends dared him to try stand-up, and Tim did not back down. His now famed career began in Royal Oak, near Detroit, at Mark Ridley’s Comedy Castle. It must have gone well, as Allen went on to develop a famous routine “Men Are Pigs.”

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Has His Own Racing Team

An avid fan of cars and racing, Allen decided to form a racing team. He worked together with other drivers Bob Bondurant and Steve Saleen, to create the “Saleen/Allen RRR Speedlab.” The name RRR is a way to spell his signature grunting sound. Both Allen and Saleen put rubber to the road in the SCCA World Challenge races. If you want to get started with racing, Allen recommends you take a racing class, like he did when he started.

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Pure Michigan Campaign

Allen supports Michigan very strongly, as it’s where he spent many of his formative years. He lent his Buzz Lightyear voice to Michigan’s state tourism campaign, entitled “Pure Michigan.” It has been a very successful campaign, rivaling famous state tourism campaigns like “I Love NY” and “What Happens In Vegas Stays In Vegas.” Forbes magazine has attributed the success to the candid passion that Allen truly has for Michigan. Allen was also hired as the spokesperson for Chevrolet Cruze.

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Wanted To Call Obama Communist

In Last Man Standing, Tim plays a conservative who questions liberal ideologies. Allen is looking to always push the envelope. On The View, he admitted he likes when his writing staff comes up with ideas that have the ABC executives coming downstairs, sweating, trying to censor edgy jokes. One of the ideas he and the team wanted to put on the air was Obama raising the Communist flag at the White House. The executives vetoed the idea, but Allen still gets many less inflammatory jabs in against Democrats.

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US Navy Surprise

Allen is a huge supporter of the US armed forces. One heartwarming way he did that was to reunite a military family for the holidays. Allen brought the wife and two young sons onto the set of Last Man Standing by telling them they won a contest to be extras in the Christmas episode. Meanwhile, Petty Officer 1st Class Raymond McKnight of the US Navy came to the set and hid in a big Christmas present. It was a beautiful surprise when the family was reunited.

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Hilary Clinton On Home Improvement?

While Bill Clinton was president, Hilary had many goals as First Lady she promoted, including her own health care plan. In order to promote her programs generally, Hilary’s press secretary floated the idea of having the First Lady appear on Home Improvement, as it was one of the most popular shows that year. It never happened. Perhaps Allen didn’t want her on? It would make sense, as Allen is not a fan of the Clintons. In Last Man Standing, Tim’s character even openly mocks Clinton and her policies.

To Infinity And Beyond!

Sometimes actors are disappointed with how few lines they have in a movie. Allen jokingly complained to Jimmy Fallon about how Tom Hanks’ character in Toy Story, Woody, seems to get all the main lines, and he, as Buzz Lightyear, just supports. However, quality beats out quantity. According to a poll carried out by Radio Times, the most loved movie quotation in America is Buzz’s trademark, “to infinity and beyond!” It beat out other famous lines from Michael Caine and Al Pacino.

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His Net Worth

Due to the wild success of Home Improvement, and various syndication deals (reruns are still on television today), Allen is now very wealthy, with an estimated net worth of $80 million. He was making $1.25 million per episode in the last season of the show. The show was so popular that when the cast wanted to quit, network executives offered Allen $50 million to do a 9th season. He turned it down, but he is doing okay: his films have grossed over $2 billion worldwide.

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Galaxy Quest Cult Following

Tim has been a huge science fiction fan for years- he loves The Day the Earth Stood Still and Terminator 2: Judgement Day, amongst others. It was probably an honor for him, then, to be the main character in the science fiction comedy Galaxy Quest. Although it is in a sense, a parody of science fiction, specifically of Star Trek, it has gained a cult following, and, in 2013, was rated the seventh best Star Trek film of all time.

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Go Lions

After his father died, Allen moved to the Detroit area and became a Lions fan. His character on Home Improvement was a thinly-veiled reflection of Allen’s character; Tim Taylor was also a huge Detroit Lions fan. Allen was spotted by paparazzi outside a Beverly Hills Hollywood party donning the jersey of Matthew Stafford, with helmet, shoes and all. He passionately railed against the Giants, which might have been awkward later on, as the co-owner of the New York team was at the same party.

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Tim Allen Supported John Kasich

In the last election, Allen supported John Kasich, who he reckoned had, “great resume, and … a good heart.” Allen first saw that he was a unique candidate at a Los Angeles town meeting, where Kasich exhibited some classically liberal ideas, showing that he may be able to unite the country, as Democrats could vote for him too. Tim provided his Toy Story-trained voice-over skills to an advertisement for Kasich, showing a moment where the candidate hugged a supporter. Ironically, Kasich expressed his distaste for the commercial.

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High Praise From TV Wife

Despite his modesty about his acting skills, Tim has been praised by his longtime co-star and on-screen wife Patricia Richardson as a natural. Many comedians make people laugh in a self-centered way: just they have the microphone, and they don’t listen to the audience. Allen is different. Richardson praised Allen for being, “a good listener,” adding that she doesn’t think “people really realize how rare it is to find a stand-up comedian who can really listen and react.”

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Resentment Against JTT

Teen heartthrob Jonathan Taylor Thomas gained nationwide recognition after being cast as Randy Taylor in Home Improvement in 1991. After eight seasons of work, JTT was tired, and took off from most of the season. He wanted to travel and prepare for college. Tim got into a fight with him during the filming of a holiday episode, and it was so bad JTT didn’t come to the season finale. Years later, though, JTT appeared on Allen’s other show, Last Man Standing, showing they have settled their issues.

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Show Canceled Over Politics?

Last Man Standing had consistent performance in the ratings and was actually one of ABC’s most watched programs, which is why Allen and was, “stunned and blindsided,” by the sudden cancellation of the show after six years. The only logical reason that could be figured was that politics came into play. Mike Baxter, Allen’s character, is a conservative, who belittles liberal ideologies and politicians on the show. ABC denies any political bent, but fans of the show are convinced and have organized a boycott of the network.