Then + Now: The Cast of ‘Home Improvement’
When ‘Home Improvement’ debuted in 1991, it instantly became a smash hit — its first season was fifth in the Nielsen rankings, and it remained a Top 10 series for the entirety of its eight-season run.
It’s hard to believe it’s been so many years since the show that put Tim Allen and a certain teen heartthrob that all the girls called “JTT” on the map ended. Let’s see what the cast looks like today!
Tim Allen (Tim Taylor)
Then: Tim Allen was an up-and-coming stand-up comedian when he was presented with the opportunity to create a show based on a character he was performing in his set.
Now: In the years since ‘Home Improvement,’ Tim Allen has probably been best known for his work on the Disney classic ‘Jungle 2 Jungle.’ Just kidding — he has provided the voice of Buzz Lightyear for the ‘Toy Story’ franchise and was Santa Claus in ‘The Santa Clause’ movies. He’s also starred on another ABC sitcom, ‘Last Man Standing.’
Patricia Richardson (Jill Patterson-Taylor)
Then: Before being cast as the wife on ‘Home Improvement,’ Patricia Richardson made appearances on several TV programs, notably ‘Quantum Leap‘ and ‘The Cosby Show,’ as well as the movie ‘C.H.U.D.’.
Now: Since ‘Home Improvement,’ Richardson has continued to work in film and television, including a nine episode run on ‘The West Wing.’ More recently, in 2012, she filmed the movie ‘Avarice.’
Zachery Ty Bryan (Brad Taylor)
Then: Before being cast as oldest son Brad on ‘Home Improvement,’ Zachery Ty Bryan worked primarily in print and television advertising.
Now: After ‘Home Improvement,’ Bryan had a number of small spots in television shows like ‘Veronica Mars’ and ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer.’ More recently, in addition to playing Thor in a Syfy TV movie called ‘Hammer of the Gods,’ Bryan’s focus seems to be on producing.
Jonathan Taylor Thomas (Randy Taylor)
Then: Prior to being cast as the Taylor family middle child, Jonathan Taylor Thomas (or JTT to the hormonal 14-year-old girls of the ’90s), was cast as the son of Greg Brady in a short-lived ‘Brady Bunch’ spin-off called ‘The Bradys.’
Now: JTT actually left ‘Home Improvement’ before the series was over because he wanted to focus on his education. This turned out to be a wise decision; he graduated prep school with honors, went on to Harvard, studied abroad in Scotland and graduated from Columbia in 2010. He doesn’t act much these days, although he made an appearance on ‘Last Man Standing.’
Taran Noah Smith (Mark Taylor)
Then: The part of youngest brother Mark Taylor on ‘Home Improvement’ was Taran Noah Brown’s big break. He was seven years old when he got the part.
Now: Brown says one thing he definitely learned from ‘Home Improvement’ is that he did not want to be an actor for the rest of his life. For a while he and his (now ex) wife ran a company that made vegan cheese. He has also been arrested under suspicion of DUI and possession of marijuana.
Richard Karn (Al Borland)
Then: After years in New York trying to catch a break, Richard Karn’s wife talked him into moving to Los Angeles. It was there, while working as an apartment complex manager, that Karn met an agent at a traffic school who told him about the audition for ‘Home Improvement.’ Karn scored the role after ‘Groundhog Day’ star Stephen Tobolowsky had to drop out due to scheduling conflicts. Initially a small role, Al eventually became a major part of the show.
Now: In the years since, Karn has hosted ‘Family Feud’ and ‘Bingo America.’ He’s also co-written two home improvement books (on the topic of actual home improvement, not the show).
Debbe Dunning (Heidi Keppert)
Then: When she was cast as the glamorous assistant that would replace Pamela Anderson’s character for show-within-a-show ‘Tool Time,’ Debbe Dunning was probably best known as Louise, the “Run for the Border” girl in a bunch of Taco Bell commercials. She had also appeared in an episode of ‘Married … With Children’ and in the movie ‘Dangerous Curves.’
Now: Dunning was the champion of the ‘American Gladiators’ Celebrity Challenge two years in a row. She is married to volleyball player Steve Timmons.
Pamela Anderson (Lisa)
Then: When Pam Anderson was cast as the original ‘Tool Time’ girl on ‘Home Improvement,’ she was already relatively well-known for wearing a tight-fitting T-shirt to a ball game and, subsequently, a Playboy centerfold.
Now: After two seasons on ‘Home Improvement,’ Anderson left to pursue work on ‘Baywatch.’ More recently, in addition to appearing on three different versions of ‘Dancing With the Stars,’ Anderson primarily makes small guest appearances as herself and advocates for animals rights.