As a beloved sitcom from the '90s, Home Improvement was the show that not only kept American audiences entertained for many years but also propelled Tim Allen to fame, as well as launched Pamela Anderson's acting career. "It's Tool Time!" has become a precious memory for most of us. And 28 years after it first aired on ABC, take a look at these 20 facts you might not know.
1. Pamela Anderson launched her acting career
Although Pamela Anderson was famous for her modeling, she started her acting career on Home Improvement, when casting as the pretty Tool Time girl, Lisa. Though Anderson left after two seasons for Baywatch, she reprised her role on the 6th season finale in 1997. Undoubtedly, the show represented Pamela Anderson's big break in the acting business.
2. The true reason Ashley Judd didn't get the role as Tool Time girl
The show's creators actually felt that she was too talented to play such a minor role. One of them, Matt Williams explained, "I called her agent and told him that she was so good, we would find a way to incorporate her into the series, period." That was quite a strange excuse. Instead, they decided to offer her a different role entirely, writing the character of Tim’s sister for her. However, Judd finally declined the role.
3. Tim Allen missed two not-so-good opportunities
Before Home Improvement, Disney executives offered Tim opportunities to star in TV series’ based on the films Turner and Hooch and Dead Poets Society, but he turned them down, saying the shows were "preparing for failure." As it turned out, Tim Allen made the right decision.
4. Frances Fisher was the original Jill
Originally, Frances Fisher was cast to play Tim's wife, Jill Taylor. However, in the test run, audiences didn't seem to like her due to her seriousness. As is known to all, Fisher’s pedigree was with serious roles, like Strawberry Alice in Unforgiven and Ruth DeWitt Bukater in Titanic. So, in the end, the producers decided to recast the role.
5. Then, the opportunity went to Patricia Richardson, but it wasn't easy
Patricia Richardson was a stage actress before starring in Home Improvement. Shortly before filming started, she was recommended to Home Improvement executives by a friend of hers, actor Stephen Tobolowsky. Incredibly, the audition was held only three months after she had given birth to twins. Luckily, all the producers thought she was the best person to play Jill. Later, thanks to her work on the show, Patricia Richardson received four Emmy nominations and two Golden Globe nominations.
6. Richard Karn got involved thanks to a traffic violation
After Richard Karn's Macbeth rehearsal in L.A., he got a ticket for rolling a stop sign, and was required to go to traffic school. It was there he met an agent who told him about Home Improvement. Karn went to the audition and the rest is history.
7. Stephen Tobolowsky almost played Al
As we mentioned above, Richard Karn got the role of Al coincidentally. And, Stephen Tobolowsky was originally set to play the co-host of Tool Time, however, Tobolowsky stepped aside, saying his schedule was too busy. Later, he said, "It turned out to be a very good choice for me" as he filmed 29 movies and made dozens of TV appearances during Home Improvement's run.
8. Why did Tim Allen only wear clothes from schools in Michigan?
Although Tim Allen was born in Colorado, he moved to Michigan later on, which he considered as his home state. As a result, Tim decided to wear shirts from schools only in Michigan. Later on, almost every college and university in the state sent shirts to their studio to get free advertising on the show.
9. But, there was one exception…
As mentioned above, Tim only wore clothes from schools in Michigan. But in an episode titled "Al's Video" in 1996, Tim was wearing a sweatshirt from Wofford College, a school in Spartanburg, South Carolina, instead of Michigan. Later, the costume supervisor, Valerie Levin-Cooper explained, "Someone is supposed to double-check and verify the school is in Michigan. Obviously, someone didn't do their job. Wofford got lucky." But, such things never happened again.
10. The true reason Jonathan Taylor Thomas quit the show was…
In an episode titled "Adios" from the 8th season, Randy Taylor left for Costa Rica to do an environment study. The truth was, Jonathan Taylor Thomas quit the show to focus on his education. However, Tim Allen wasn't happy because he suspected there were some other reasons. Later, Tim noted, "He said it was about going to school, but then he did some films."
11. Jonathan Taylor Thomas and Tim Allen reunited happily 15 years later
After Jonathan Taylor Thomas left Home Improvement, he and Tim Allen had a bit of a falling out. Last time they were seen on-screen together was on December 8, 1998. In 2013, the show, Last Man Standing, provided a chance for them to appear on-screen together again. Thomas played a middle child and he said, "A lot of times, that middle child ends up being the funny one becomes he wants the attention."
12. John Bedford Lloyd dropped the role Wilson because…
At first, John Bedford Lloyd was offered the roles of both Al and Wilson. Eventually, he was given the latter. But later, when he realized that Wilson stayed hidden behind a fence the whole time, he turned down the role just a day before the pilot was filmed.
13. The real name of Tim's neighbor, Wilson was…
A running gag on the show was that you could never see Tim's neighbor, Wilson's face below his eyes. Incredibly, actor Earl Hindman didn't mind playing the role one bit! Many of you might not realize that although they always called him Wilson, his full name was Wilson W. Wilson!
14. Wilson's character was based on Tim Allen's childhood neighbor
The character of Wilson actually stemmed from a neighbor in Tim Allen's childhood. Because the fence was tall and Tim was short, he couldn't see his neighbor's face when he would talk to him. Once the show began, a fence hiding half of his face didn’t stop Wilson from becoming a hit with viewers.
15. The show was originally called Hammer Time
The show was originally going to be called Hammer Time instead of Home Improvement. It was supposed to pay respect to MC Hammer's catchphrase. But, one year later, they eventually changed the name to Home Improvement. Maybe they were worried about a lawsuit from MC Hammer?
16. Tool Time and Home Improvement used the same audience
There was a show within Home Improvement, called Tool Time. During the show, Tim Allen often interacted with the audience. The truth is, those people were actually the same people that came to the studio to see the tapings of Home Improvement. They loved to be part of it!
17. Home Improvement and Toy Story might take place in the same universe
Why? Firstly, in the film Toy Story, there was a Binford toolbox on top of the crate that Woody gets trapped under. Secondly, during an episode of Home Improvement, Tim Allen states, "I am Buzz Lightyear." Considering he voiced the character in Toy Story, the producers probably put it there as a reference to Tim Allen's role in both of them. But who knows!
18. Why we never got to see season nine
The reason? Mainly because of money. Tim Allen's on-screen wife Patricia Richardson wanted to get paycheck closer to Tim’s, which was turned down by the producers. In addition, child actors Jonathan Taylor Thomas and Taran Smith quit the show. So, Tim Allen refused a $50 million offer to film season nine. He didn't want it all to be about the money.
19. A young star, Michelle Williams was in the making
Before our four-time Oscar nominee, Michelle Williams rose to fame, she appeared in Home Improvement, on the season four episode, "Wilson's girlfriend" in 1995. At that time, she was only 15 years old and pretty much unknown. Three years later, she got a role on Dawson's Creek and the rest is history.
20. Who was Klaus?
Klaus was a familiar name that was frequently referred to on the Tool Time set. Tim always asked Klaus to play some music, but who was Klaus? Actually, Klaus' full name was Klaus Landberg, and he worked on the Home Improvement production team. So, the call outs to Klaus became another running gag on the show.