Ask Tim Allen to tell you something about himself that you might not yet know and he’ll tell you with utter honesty and a lowered voice, “Okay—I’m a Dick. Yes. I am a Dick. My closest friends know I’m a Dick. In fact, my brothers are Dicks, my cousins are Dicks, and my sister—before she was married—a Dick. My dad? One incredible Dick, and the Dick responsible for me being a Dick. Timothy Alan Dick. Some of us are just born lucky.”
Yes, Tim was born on June 13, 1953 in Denver Colorado as Timothy Alan Dick. After losing his father to an auto accident at the age of 11, Tim’s mother remarried her high school sweetheart and she moved her six kids to join his three in Birmingham Michigan, (a suburb of Detroit).
In high school, Tim developed a passion for cars (drag racing down Woodward Avenue); his favorite subject was shop (now there’s a surprise); and he was, of course, the class clown. Tim started his college studies at Central Michigan University and transferred to Western Michigan University in 1974. With a split minor in Philosophy and Design, Tim majored in Communications, specializing in radio and television production, and was active in WIDR, the University’s student radio station. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in April 1976. (In 1998, Tim revisited the university to receive an Honorary Degree and was the recipient of The Distinguished Alumni Award.)
After graduating, Tim took a job as creative director for a small advertising firm in Detroit. On a dare from a friend, he made his first stand-up appearance in 1979 at Detroit’s Comedy Castle, which he still considers his “comedy birthplace.”
“I remember shortly after beginning stand-up, I got a spot on a local talk show and the producers came up to me and carefully said, ‘Um, we don’t feel comfortable flashing your name on the screen. Surely you understand, you know, Tim—Dick? People will think you made it up to be funny.’ I wanted to be a comedian so much that then and there, I removed the Dick. The separation didn’t hurt as much as I thought—it was an out-patient procedure.”
The newly named Tim Allen continued to stretch his comedy muscles doing stand-up at night, while supplementing his income by appearing in commercials for Mr. Goodwrench, Ford, Chevrolet and Kmart during the day. After paying his dues on the Comedy Circuit at nightclubs around the country, and performing in a 1988 film called Comedy’s Dirtiest Dozen, Tim set out to make his mark in Los Angeles.
Tim and his wife, Laura, closed the decade with the birth of their daughter, Katherine, adding new material to his comedy set.
Tim started getting spots at the top comedy clubs in Los Angeles but his exposure got a big boost from the KLOS radio show “The Five O’clock Funnies” which aired audio clips from his stand-up act and thus, a devoted ‘grunting’ audience was born. In 1990, he was pleasantly surprised (okay, shocked) to win a Cable Ace Award for Best Performance in a Comedy Special for the concert film of the “Just for Laughs International Comedy Festival” in Montreal. From there, he performed in his own half-hour special for Showtime entitled, Men Are Pigs which really solidified his unique slant on masculinity that he is known for to this day.
The special came to the attention of Walt Disney Studios then-chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg just about the time he was looking to develop a new television series. Katzenberg and Walt Disney Co. chairman Michael Eisner tracked down Tim backstage at one of his Improv gigs and offered him starring roles in a series of situation comedies in development. In a gutsy move, the then unknown Tim declined roles in the series Turner & Hooch and The Dead Poets Society, in which he would have recreated for the small screen characters made popular on the big screen by Tom Hanks and Robin Williams. Eventually, he succeeded in persuading the studio to use his Men Are Pigs routine as the basis for a sitcom, and Home Improvement was launched.
“Jeffery Katzenberg sat across a big conference room table from me and said the unforgettable words, ‘I want Disney and Tim Allen to get married.’ My response? ‘Well, I’d kinda like to see the ring first.’”
In the fall of 1991, the pilot for Home Improvement introduced viewers to Tim Taylor, befuddled husband and father, and the well-meaning but mishap-prone host of a home-repair show called Tool Time. Critics were divided on the show’s appeal, but TV viewers loved it, and Home Improvement managed to break into the Nielsen top ten list during its first season on the air and moved to the number one position by the 1993-94 season, topping all other series.
For his work on Home Improvement, Tim won the 1992 People’s Choice Award naming him Favorite Male Television Performer and continued to win it for 8 consecutive years. He also won the title of America’s Favorite TV Personality for three years in a row from the Harris Poll. In 1995, he received the Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series. He was also awarded in 1996 with two Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards in the categories of Favorite TV Actor and the coveted Kids Choice Hall of Fame.
In addition to the awards he has received for his work on Home Improvement, he was recognized in 1995 by the film industry for his starring role in the top-grossing Disney movie, The Santa Clause, where he played the role of Scott Calvin/Santa Claus for which he received the People’s Choice Award for Favorite Actor in a Comedy Motion Picture. In addition, he received the Blockbuster Entertainment Award as Favorite Male Newcomer, Theatrical.
Even though Home Improvement was Tim’s first series, he was nominated twice for an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, and was one of the co-hosts of the 1992 Primetime Emmy Awards presentation.
With a national concert tour that included a sell out performance at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, Tim also found time to pen his first book, Don’t Stand Too Close to a Naked Man. It reveals his philosophy about male behavior—replete with comedic mediations and anecdotes. With this book topping the New York Times Bestseller List, it propelled Tim into an unprecedented ‘Trifecta'—he had the #1 rated television show, the #1 box office smash hit movie, and the #1 best selling book all in the same week in 1994.
“That was such a critical mass of timing; I suppose, difficult to achieve, but I don’t think it’s the kind of thing that goes down in history. When I’m long gone, maybe it’ll be a Jeopardy question.”
Tim continued his film career when in November of 1995, he lent his voice talents to the deluded space ranger, Buzz Lightyear in Disney/Pixar’s computer animated smash hit, Toy Story. In 1996, Tim’s second book I’m Not Really Here was published and it too, became a bestseller. It dealt with Tim’s look at midlife, family, quantum physics and the search for a missing hood ornament. In March of 1997, Tim’s third movie, Disney’s Jungle to Jungle was released which co-starred Martin Short, Lolita Davidovich and JoBeth Williams, followed by the Universal romantic comedy, For Richer or Poorer with Kirstie Alley.
Even though Tim was busy with film productions, after eight seasons, Home Improvement was still in the top ten. In 1999, Tim won the TV Guide Award for Favorite Actor in a Comedy Series and in a tearful farewell, Tim hung up his Home Improvement tool belt after a two hour closing finale special.
“I didn’t want it to end because I loved it so much—and it certainly wasn’t a money issue. I just didn’t want the show to tire itself out—I didn’t want to eventually have to push an old car down the road. The cast members, the crew and the staff were like a second family to me. It was the hardest decision I ever made and that last show was a very emotional night for me.”
Although his sitcom had come to an end, his film career had not. That same year, Tim reprised his role in the Disney sequel, Toy Story 2 which grossed over $250 million to become the sixteenth highest film of all-time in terms of US box office success. This was followed by the Dreamworks film, Galaxy Quest where Tim played the washed-up actor Jason Nesmith and his sci-fi alter ego Commander Peter Quincy Taggart who rallied the band of has-been actors and saved the galaxy. This film, along with its commercial success has turned into a top favorite among Tim’s fans, as well as fellow comedians and contemporaries in the business.
The 20th Century Fox picture, Joe Somebody hit the theaters Christmas 2001; Barry Sonnenfeld’s ensemble comedy Big Trouble, originally scheduled for release September 2001, opened at theaters April 2002; and Who Is Cletis Tout—an independent dark comedy starring Christian Slater, was released in August 2002 at theaters in selected cities. In this movie, Tim plays a professional hit man with a knowledge and passion for classic films—an interesting departure for the well known ‘movie dad.’ In November 2002, Tim helped kick off the holiday movie season reprising his role as ‘the big man in red’ in the long awaited sequel, The Santa Clause 2. Due to the overwhelming box office response, there are already plans for a Santa Clause 3. 2003 brought several feature development projects Tim’s way as well as co-creating, writing and executive producing a new sitcom pilot for ABC.
July 2004 brings the production to a close for the John Grisham novel turned film, Christmas with the Kranks co-staring Jamie Lee Curtis and is released in theaters during the Christmas season of that year. Tim ends 2004 with the Disney production of the Shaggy Dog where he enjoyed the acting company of Robert Downey Jr. and Kristin Davis and reunites with them for the theater release in March, 2006.
Joining this release, 2006 forges ahead with the theatrical release of Zoom co-starring Courteney Cox, and Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause where Tim enjoyed reuniting with many of the cast from the franchise, as well as the great additions of Martin Short, Alan Arkin and the iconic Ann-Margret.
To finish off 2006 with a personal milestone, Tim marries Jane Hajduk in a idyllic Colorado ceremony surrounded by family of three generations.
2007 opens with the release of the suburban biker film Wild Hogs and he enjoys the great box office success along with his co-stars John Travolta, Martin Lawrence, William H. Macy and Ray Liotta. Tim ends the year with final production on Six Wives of Henry LeFay where Tim plays a man whose wife and five ex-wives fight over his will when they believe he is dead. Elisha Cuthbert stars as his daughter; Jenna Elfman, Andie MacDowell and S. Epatha Merkerson also star.
In 2008, Tim takes a departure from comedy, appearing in the martial arts drama Redbelt, written and directed by the distinguished Pulitzer Prize winner, David Mamet.
Tim follows this success, with his feature film directorial debut, producing the independent comedy Crazy on the Outside, in which he also stars opposite Ray Liotta, Sigourney Weaver, Julie Bowen, Jeanne Tripplehorn, J.K. Simmons and Kelsey Grammer. In the film Allen plays a newly released prisoner who tries to persuade his attractive parole officer (Tripplehorn) to date him. His struggle to rebuild his life is further complicated by a loving, yet nutty sister (Weaver) and her sarcastic husband (Simmons).
While waiting for the film’s release, Tim reprised the voice of Buzz Lightyear in the long awaited Toy Story 3.
To add extra joy to his already exciting life, Tim’s wife, Jane gives birth to a beautiful baby girl, Elizabeth, in the spring of 2009.
As of September 2010, Tim Allen is the official voice of Chevrolet, and was named the voice of Campbell Soup’s new “It’s Amazing What Soup Can Do” campaign.
With an itch to get back up in front of a live audience, Tim fires up his old stand-up chops, spending the next two years honing a new act. He has been performing concerts to sell-out audiences at The Venetian in Vegas since 2011.
After a twelve year break from the television game, Tim once again reunites with ABC and stars in the 2011 fall sitcom “Last Man Standing” bringing the ‘Tim Allen guy’s guy charm’ back in to the homes of millions of Americans. The show premiered on October 11 with the first two episodes appearing back-to-back and it garnered high ratings with a great turn out from viewers.
With his stand-up, film and television career still going strong, Tim still finds time to perform stand-up, collect cars, spend time with his wife and daughter, and run his companies: Boxing Cat Films, which develops entertainment projects, and Tim Allen Design (TAD), which allows Tim an outlet to continue his love for design.
So ask him what it’s like to be Tim Allen and you’ll get this: “Tim Allen? No, I’m still Tim Dick, the wisecracking kid from the upper Midwest, looking for answers to life’s big questions, and being grateful for my friends and family. I’m just fortunate to be able to create as much as I do and have people like it. I just worked hard enough—and was lucky enough to become the owner of a red-hot franchise called ‘Tim Allen.’”