When Tim “The Toolman” Taylor was introduced on the hit sitcom “Home Improvement,” he immediately endeared himself — as well as his quirky family and friends — to audiences across America. His manic obsession with power tools and car engines coupled with his brusque but loving relationship with his wife and sons made him wildly appealing to men, women and children of all ages. Plots centered on Taylor’s home improvement TV show, family ties and social issues, included a degree of the political and cultural opinions of the family, and featured memorable supporting characters including Tim’s assistant Al and his ubiquitous neighbor, Wilson.
The show’s 8-year run resulted in a lot of behind-the-scenes secrets only producers knew — secrets that have been kept tightly under wraps until now!
12. Kids Remember The Darnedest Things
Tim Allen (Tim Taylor) fondly recalls a neighbor from his childhood he could hear but not see. The neighbor always talked to him through a shared fence but Allen was too short to see him. This memory spawned the character of Wilson, whose full face was never seen until the series finale.
11. Money Talks…Sometimes
Although many critics doubted “Home Improvement” would be a megahit, citing the show’s limited focus (“Tool Time” and car repairs) and small cast (guest stars were few and far between), the show was a smash hit. Tim Allen was reportedly offered $50 million to do a 9th season of the show and Patricia Richardson (who played wife Jill) was offered $25 million. Both declined the offers.
10. Cheap Advertising
“Home Improvement” was set in Michigan, which somewhat tied Taylor’s love for cars to “Motor City” Detroit. But no car companies offered promotional items to be featured on the show. Michigan colleges and universities jumped on the opportunity to promote their schools. They showered Allen with logo T-shirts and sweaters, which he regularly wore on the show.
9. Wonderful Wilson
Earl Hindman played the role of Wilson (see #12) to the hilt. When he couldn’t use the fence to obscure his face, he (and the prop department) resorted to hiding behind other actors’ movements or on-set props. He once hid the top of his face with papier-mache and even carried around a piece of picket fence he used to hide behind in case of emergency.
8. Fish Out Of Water
Veteran actor Frances Fisher was the producers’ first choice for the role of Tim’s wife, Jill Taylor. But after test audiences found her character anxious and annoying during taping of the pilot, producers quickly rounded up a new round of actors to replace her. Patricia Richardson was hired to play the part just four days before the final pilot episode was shot.