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Where Are They Now: The “Home Improvement” Edition

 

In the 1990s, Home Improvement was one of the most watched sitcoms on American television, winning many awards and accolades. Premiering in 1991 and running for eight seasons, the show revolved around the Taylor family, which consisted of Tim, his wife Jill and their three children, Brad, Randy and Mark. Living in suburban Detroit, Tim was the host of a hit show called “Tool Time,” where he was assisted by his friend Al Borland and a “Tool Time girl”—first Lisa and then Heidi. Because Tim was incredibly accident prone as well as reckless, his handy-man exploits often led to hilarious yet disastrous results. Altogether, it was a fun, family-friendly show that not only launched Tim Allen’s acting career, but was also the start of Pamela Anderson’s television career, who was a part of the recurring cast during the show’s first two seasons.

However, not all of the actors and actresses involved in the show went on to have successful acting careers. Some of them dropped off the map entirely, while others continued to grow in popularity. So, where are the people behind your favorite characters now? Keep reading to find out!

Tim Allen (Tim Taylor)

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Tim Allen is arguably the most successful actor to come out of Home Improvement. Before becoming the star of the show, Allen did several stand-up comedy cable specials, the most notable of which are Comedy’s Dirtiest Dozen and Tim Allen: Men are Pigs. While continuing to film his successful television series, Allen starred in a string of blockbuster movies, including The Santa Clause, Toy Story, Toy Story 2 and Galaxy Quest. In 1996, he developed his own signature line of power tools. After Home Improvement ended in 1999, he continued to star in movies, such as Toy Story 2, Joe Somebody, The Santa Clause 2, Christmas with the Kranks, The Shaggy Dog, Cars, The Santa Clause 3, Wild Hogs, Toy Story 3 and 3 Geezers. In 2011, he scored another starring role in the television show Last Man Standing as Mike Baxter, a role that he continues to play to this day. In 2012, he provided the narration for the film Penguins. He is slated to be returning as the voice of Buzz Lightyear in the upcoming movie Toy Story 4, which is said to be released in 2018.

Patricia Richardson (Jill Taylor)

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Patricia Richardson was already well on her way to becoming a renowned actress by the time she scored the role of Jill Taylor on Home Improvement. Her first television series role was on Double Trouble as the character Beth McConnell, followed by one-episode stints on shows like The Cosby Show, Kate and Allie, The Equalizer and Quantum Leap. However, it was the role of Jill Taylor that really thrust her into the spotlight. For that role, she was nominated for two Golden Globe Awards and four Emmy Awards. After Home Improvement ended, she took some time off to spend with her children, taking a few roles here and there, such as a guest-starring role on Law and Order: SVU and a role in the TV Mini-Series Blonde. Then, in 2002, she landed another major role on the Whoopi Goldberg-produced television show Strong Medicine. She followed that up with a nine-episode stint on The West Wing. She also starred in a variety of TV movies, including The Jensen Project, Bringing Ashley Home, Smart Cookies, Chance at Romance and Snow Bride. She recently guest-starred on an episode of Last Man Standing as the character Helen Potts.

Zachary Ty Bryan (Brad Taylor)

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While Zachary Ty Bryan’s most notable role remains that of Brad Taylor on Home Improvement, he has had a very active career since the show ended. He’s guest-starred on a multitude of shows, such as Chicken Soup for the Soul, Opposite Sex, Family Law, Touched by an Angel, ER, Boston Public, The Outer Limits, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Smallville, Century City, Center of the Universe, Veronica Mars, Cold Case, Shark, Burn Notice and Knight Rider. He also snagged roles in the movies Slammed, Annapolis and Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. His most recent acting credit was the TV movie Hammer of the Gods, in which he played Thor.

Jonathon Taylor Thomas (Randy Taylor)

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In the 1990s, Jonathon Taylor Thomas was the tween heartthrob, thanks in part to Home Improvement, which introduced the world to the promising young actor. As a result, he landed many starring roles in movies while he was on the show, including Man of the House, Tom and Huck, The Adventures of Pinocchi, Wild America and I’ll Be Home for Christmas. After the show ended, he guest-starred on several other shows, such as Ally McBeal, Smallville, 8 Simple Rules and Veronica Mars. In 2006, he took a break from acting, returning in 2013 for a multi-episode stint on Last Man Standing.

Taran Noah Smith (Mark Taylor)

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Here we have the first actor in this cast who decided to leave acting entirely after the show ended. In 2001, he said the following during an interview: “I started Home Improvement when I was 7 and the show ended when I was 16. I never had the chance to decide what I wanted to do with my life. When I was 16, I knew that I didn’t want to act anymore.” His last acting credit after the show ended was Batman Beyond, in which he provided the voice for the character Patrick. There is no news as to what he’s doing now.

Richard Karn

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One of the most memorable characters on Home Improvement was Al Borland, Tim’s sensible and faithful sidekick on “Tool Time,” as well as his friend. While the show was on the air, he guest-starred on the shows Boy Meets World, Burke’s Law and Soul Man; after the show ended, he continued to work on other shows, even if it was only for a couple of episodes. He worked on The Lot, That ‘70s Show, The Chronicle, Watching Ellie and Dirt. In 2009, he scored a recurring role on the show Ctrl, and in 2013, he reunited with Tim Allen on Last Man Standing. Fans can expect to see him in the upcoming movies Star Are Already Dead and Amanda and the Fox.

Earl Hindman

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Earl Hindman, who played Tim’s mysterious and insightful neighbor Wilson, built quite a career for himself as an actor before joining Home Improvement. He began his career in 1967 in the film Teenage Mother. From that moment on, his career was in full swing. He landed roles on television and in movies, with some of his most notable film credits including the movie The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, the TV Mini-Series The Leatherstocking Tales, the television shows The Equalizer, the movie 3 Men and a Baby and the television show Ryan’s Hope, on which he played Bob Reid for fourteen seasons. Then, in 1991, he landed the role of Wilson Wilson Jr. on Home Improvement. After the show ended, he guest-starred on Law and Order, Deadline and Law and Order: Criminal Intent. Sadly, he passed away in 2003. He was only 61 years old.

Debbie Dunning

Debbe Dunning at arrivals for The 7th Annual TV Land Awards, Gibson Amphitheatre at Universal CityWalk, Los Angeles, CA April 19, 2009. Photo By: Roth Stock/Everett Collection

Debbie Dunning joined the cast of Home Improvement in its third season, replacing Pamela Anderson. In many ways, Home Improvement gave her a leg up in her career. Before landing the role of Heidi, she had one minor role in the movie Dangerous Curves as a Pageant Girl, and had minor roles on the television shows Married with Children, Charlie Hoover and Vinnie& Bobby. Then, in 1992, she joined the cast of Home Improvement, which she remained on for seven seasons. Nonetheless, she still found time to guest star on other shows, including Renegade, Baywatch, Silk Stockings and Boy Meets World. After Home Improvement ended, she guest-starred on Sabrina the Teenage Witch and did a multi-episode stint on the show Wicked Wicked Games. Since then, however, she has had no further projects.

Pamela Anderson

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Last but certainly not least, we have Pamela Anderson, who made her television debut on Home Improvement as the first “Tool Time Girl,” Lisa. Nevertheless, that is not the role for which she is most well-known. Most people remember her as C.J. Parker on the show Baywatch., or from her Playboy photo shoots.

After Home Improvement ended, she continued working in television, guest-starring on The Nanny, Futurama, Just Shoot Me, VIP, King of the Hill, Stripperella, 8 Simple Rules, Stacked and Package Deal. Fans can expect to see her in the upcoming films The People Garden and Connected.

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