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
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 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
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
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
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, and Disney the Shaggy Dog to begin shooting
in the fall. Tim is definitely in the prime of his
life. With his movie career shifting into high gear,
he still finds time to perform stand-up, collect
cars, spend time with his 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. 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'