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"Home Improvement" Trivia and Fun Facts

John Bridges is a published author of history, and politics. His doctorate is in criminal justice. he is a fan of the show Home Improvement

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Home Improvement was an American sitcom that aired for eight seasons during the 1990s. It bolstered the careers of Tim Allen, Pamela Anderson, and Jonathan Taylor Thomas, who each found greater prominence after the series ended. The show feature a show within a show called Tool Time.

Tool Time was conceived as a parody of the PBS home improvement show This Old House. Tim and Al are caricatures of the two principal cast members of This Old House, host Bob Vila and master carpenter Norm Abram. Al Borland has a beard and always wears plaid shirts when taping an episode, reflecting Norm Abram's appearance on This Old House. Bob Vila appeared as a guest star on several episodes of Home Improvement, while Tim Allen and Pamela Anderson both appeared on Bob Vila's show Home Again.

Ashley Judd auditioned for and won the role of Lisa, the Tool Girl. Her agent urged her to pursue movies instead of a television career, and she pulled out a few days before the original pilot was to be taped. This resulted in the last minute casting of Pamela Anderson. This changed the nature of the Lisa character, who had originally been planned to be a more central character.

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Tim: Tim Allen

Tim Allen plays Tim Taylor, the hapless, egotistical, yet well meaning father of the Taylor family. Tim Allen is really a stage name; his real name is Timothy Alan Dick (no relation to Andy Dick). Allen was born In Denver, Colorado (the state in which his show Last Man Standing is set). After his father dies in a tragic car accident, his mother remarried and the family moved to Michigan (where Home Improvement takes place).

Allen began his comedy career at a comedy club outside of Detroit and did so on a dare from friends. He became noticed and started being solicited for commercials and bit parts.

Allen has a bit of a troubled past. In 1978, he was arrested for trafficking a felony quantity of cocaine for which he could have faced life imprisonment. He pleaded guilty to felony drug trafficking charges and provided the names of other dealers in exchange for a lighter sentence. He still spent over two years in jail. His talent, however, prevailed over adversity. After a move to Los Angeles, his career continued to progress.

Tim Taylor is meant to be a caricature of overly masculine men. He often has over the top ideas that rarely work out the way he had envisioned, but he never seems to be impacted by his failures.

Tim's backstory is that he was raised by a single mom and had five brothers. In a continuity blooper, Tim actually mentions seven brothers by name; John, Rick, Steve, Brian, Danny, Jeff, and Marty.

Trivia Challenge Part One

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. What was the original title of Home Improvement?
    • Hammer Time
    • Tim the Builder
    • Taylor's Tool Shop
    • It was always going to be called Home Improvement
  2. The "Tool Time" audience was actually...
    • The shows writers and producers
    • Charity contest winners
    • Members of the actual live studio audience.
    • Friends and family of the cast
  3. How much did Tim Allen turn down to star in one additional season of Home Improvement?
    • 100 million
    • 50 million
    • 25 million
    • 10 million
  4. Which political figure was encouraged by her managers to do a cameo on the show, then cancelled at the last minute?
    • Hillary Clinton
    • Laura Bush
    • Nancy Reagan
    • Betty Ford
  5. Tim destroys many things on the show while trying to fix them. What did he destroy in the pilot episode?
    • The dishwasher
    • The chimney
    • Caused tree to fall through house
    • The car
  6. What was Tim's mother's name on the show.
    • Babs
    • Dorothy
    • Lucille
    • Lorainne
  7. Tim tried to improve his BBQ grill by using rocket fuel. This launched the BBQ which landed where?
    • In Lake Michigan
    • On Wilsons roof
    • On Tim's hot rod
    • It didn't, it went into orbit
  8. What were Tim and Al doing that caused them to be put into jail?
    • Drag racing
    • Building without permit
    • Causing a city-wide black out
    • Selling hockey tickets
  9. Who is Tim's bitter rival in the neighborhood holiday lighting contest?
    • Wilson
    • Duncan Myers
    • Doc Johnson
    • His brother Marty
  10. What did Tim Taylor glue to his forehead?
    • His Hat
    • A Table
    • His Hand
    • Brad's report card

Answer Key

  1. Hammer Time
  2. Members of the actual live studio audience.
  3. 50 million
  4. Hillary Clinton
  5. The dishwasher
  6. Lucille
  7. In Lake Michigan
  8. Selling hockey tickets
  9. Doc Johnson
  10. A Table
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Jill: Patricia Richardson

Patricia Richardson played Tim's wife Jill Taylor. Richardson was not the first choice for the role; she was discovered after the first pilot had been created. The role originally cast with Frances Fisher playing Jill Taylor. Fisher was an established dramatic actress but the pilot showed she did not quite have the comedic skills that the show needed.

Richardson claimed that she never really auditioned for the part of Jill. She happened to be in the right place at the right time and had an instant and obvious symbiosis with Tim Allen. She was not even interested in the part but could also sense that the instant connection she and Allen shared could not be ignored. She also had the strength to portray a feminist role to help counter Tim's exaggerated masculine character. She was hired on the spot and it proved to be a casting dream. Production began a couple days later, including a re-shoot of the pilot that included Richardson in the role of Jill Taylor.

Richardson gave birth to twins three months before she began filming. In fact, she brought her twins to her initial interview and the producers built a nursery in the studio for them.

Jill is meant to be a counter-balance to Tim's extreme beliefs. She is a real character, with real flaws of her own. She does make mistakes just as Tim does. She is dedicated to her friends and family. She grew up an Army brat and has a somewhat strained relationship with her birth family. She wishes to be more than just a stay-at-home mom but has difficulty getting a job. She eventually decides to better her life through education.

Quiz

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. How many sisters is Jill said to have?
    • One
    • Two
    • Three
    • Six
  2. Jill owned a much beloved car that Tim accidentally destroys during a Tool Time episode. What kind of car was it?
    • A Woody
    • A Gran Torino
    • A Nomad
    • A Corvair
  3. Which actress, formerly of the show Alice, portrayed Jill's Mother?
    • Beth Howland
    • Linda Lavin
    • Polly Holliday
    • Celia Weston
  4. When Mark is making a video about the Taylor family, what does Jill call her college professor.on tape?
    • A jackass
    • A genius
    • A dreamboat
    • A nice change from talking to Tim
  5. What did Jill's father do for a living?
    • Oil Drilling
    • Real Estate
    • Sports Writer
    • Army
  6. Jill initially drove a car that Tim destroyed, she later buys a foreign car so cannot fix it, what is it?
    • Austin Healey
    • BMW
    • Fiat
    • Masserati
  7. When Jill goes back to college, what is her major?
    • Women;s studies
    • Liberal Arts
    • Teaching
    • Psychology
  8. What is Jill's maiden name?
    • Harrison
    • Patterson
    • MacGregor
    • Wilson
  9. A running theme in the show is that Jill is bad at what?
    • Cooking
    • Driving
    • Singing
    • Fixing things
  10. What is Jills mother's name?
    • Lucille
    • Lillian
    • Loralai
    • Lois

Answer Key

  1. Six
  2. A Nomad
  3. Polly Holliday
  4. A jackass
  5. Army
  6. Austin Healey
  7. Psychology
  8. Patterson
  9. Cooking
  10. Lillian
home-improvement-trivia-fun-facts-and-more-for-dedicated-fans-only

Al: Richard Karn

Richard Karn played the role of Al Borland, Tim's assistant on Tool Time. He provided a calm and sensible balance to Tim's over the top project attempts. There originally was no Al Borland in the show.

Tim was to have an assistant named Glen. Character actor Stephen Tobolowsky was hired for this role, while Karn had also auditioned for the role of Glen. Tobolosky had a very busy work schedule and initially stated he would not be available for the first few shows. Karn was asked to play a temporary assistant for the show until Tobolosky was available. Just a few days before shooting was to begin, Tobolosky told the show he was simply to busy to take on the project. Since Karn was already temporarily scheduled for the first few shows, it was decided the role should be made permanent, and Al Borland was written into the script moving forward.

The actor got ticketed for rolling through a stop sign after a Macbeth rehearsal in Los Angeles. He was sent to traffic school as a result, where he met an agent who told him about Home Improvement. Karn discovered he knew enough people involved with the show to secure an audition.

This was Karn's first major role. Since it was not initially known if the show would be a success, Karn kept his day job as an apartment maintenance manager in Seattle. He eventually needed to leave the job as the show became more successful and his tenants would call in work orders simply to show off to their friends that Al Borland was their handyman.

The Al character is a bachelor (until the finale), but Karn is often seen wearing a wedding band. In real life, he is married to actress Tudi Roche, who had a recurring role as Jill's sister on the show.

Quiz

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. When Tim stays at Al's apartment, what does he make a tape of Al doing?
    • Dancing with a mop
    • Stealing the neighbors paper
    • Snoring
    • Binge eating
  2. Al was in the military, what branch?
    • Army
    • Navy
    • Air Force
    • Maritime Marines
  3. Where was Al stationed while in the military?
    • Michigan
    • Nevada
    • Florida
    • California
  4. What does Al collect?
    • Rocks
    • Stamps
    • Blue Prints
    • Car Keys
  5. Al has a brother on the show, what is his brothers name?
    • Hal
    • Sal
    • Cal
    • Tim
  6. The actor who played Als brother was actually...
    • Karn's real brother
    • Tim Allens cousin
    • Also played by Karn
    • A fan who sent in a picture to show how much he looked like Al
  7. What was Al's mothers name?
    • Alma
    • Erma
    • Eunice
    • Bernice
  8. Richard Karn is actually a stage name, what is the actor's real last name?
    • Allen
    • Taylor
    • Wilson
    • Borland
  9. Al wears flannel because...
    • He gets cold easily
    • His mother still buys all his clothes
    • He won a contest that gave him a life time supply
    • it's in memory of his deceased father
  10. Al is part owner of...?
    • A radio station
    • Tim's hot rod
    • Harry's Hardware
    • Binford

Answer Key

  1. Snoring
  2. Navy
  3. Nevada
  4. Car Keys
  5. Cal
  6. A fan who sent in a picture to show how much he looked like Al
  7. Alma
  8. Wilson
  9. it's in memory of his deceased father
  10. Harry's Hardware
home-improvement-trivia-fun-facts-and-more-for-dedicated-fans-only

Wilson: Earl Hindman

Earl Hindman played the role of Wilson, the Taylor's friend, advisor, and neighbor. Hindman was offered the part one day before shooting was to begin. Originally, the role went to John Bedford Lloyd, an established actor at the time. Lloyd backed out when his agent notified the actor that his face would be obscured throughout the show. Since the actor would not gain exposure for doing the show, he abandoned the role, claiming he had not been aware this would be the case when he accepted.

The character Wilson was based on Tim Allen's childhood memories of when he was too short to see over a fence, and was therefore unable to see his neighbor.

Wilson has traveled the world and fondly shares his experience with the Taylor family. He often offers sage advice to the family in dealing with life situations. He has an even temperament and seems content in tending to his many varied hobbies.

Quiz

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. Which famous band members portrayed Wilson's cousins?
    • NSYNC
    • Beach Boys
    • Maroon 5
    • The Guess Who
  2. What is Wilson's last name?
    • Taylor
    • Newton
    • Livingston
    • Wilson
  3. What was the first name of Wilson's niece?
    • Willow
    • Wilamena
    • Winnifred
    • Wilson
  4. Where was Wilson born?
    • Ann Arbor
    • Minneapolis
    • Akron
    • Chicago
  5. Wilson has a pet parrot, what is the parrots name?
    • Mozart
    • Picasso
    • Eva Peron
    • Socrates
  6. Wison is a widower, what was his wife's name?
    • Catherine
    • Candace
    • Charlene
    • Chelsea
  7. Wilson has a Ph.D in what?
    • Philosophy
    • History
    • Forgotten Languages and Cultures
    • Archeology

Answer Key

  1. Beach Boys
  2. Wilson
  3. Willow
  4. Chicago
  5. Mozart
  6. Catherine
  7. Forgotten Languages and Cultures
From left to right, Randy: Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Mark: Taran Noah Smith, Brad: Zachery Ty Bryan

From left to right, Randy: Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Mark: Taran Noah Smith, Brad: Zachery Ty Bryan

The Kids

Zachery Ty Bryan played Brad Taylor, the oldest of the Taylor children. Prior to the show, he had work in print and television commercials. After the show, Bryan engaged in some small parts on other television shows before shifting his interests to working behind the scenes. Although he portrays the oldest child, he is actually younger than Jonathan Taylor Thomas who plays the middle child on the show. NFL quarterback Brady Quinn is his cousin.

Jonathan Taylor Thomas played the middle Taylor child, Randy. Out of the three child actors, Thomas had the most successful career both before and after his stint on Home Improvement. He remains active both on screen and behind the scenes. He is also a popular voice over actor. Of the three children, he is the one who looks and behaves the most like his TV father. Taylor left the show in season eight to focus on his education. He graduated from both Harvard and Columbia Universities. He is the nephew of actor and playwright Jeff Weiss. Thomas has been a vegetarian for most of his life.

Taran Noah Smith played Mark, the youngest brother of Brad and Randy and the youngest son of Tim and Jill Taylor. Upon leaving the show, Smith admitted that he did not know what he wanted to do with his life, but he knew for certain that he no longer wanted to be involved in acting. He had accused his parents of squandering his money, but later admitted they were just protecting his money in a trust fund until he was 18. He had a controversial six-year marriage to a woman who was 16 years his senior. He is a vegan and currently works teaching people how to pilot submarines.

Quiz

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. What does Mark steal from the hardware store?
    • A hammer
    • Twenty dollars
    • A Swiss army knife
    • Bubble gum
  2. What occupation does Randy want to have when he leaves school?
    • Acting
    • Journalism
    • Politics
    • Designing solar panels
  3. Brad is given an athletic scholarship to attend what school?
    • UCLA
    • University of Michigan
    • University of Colorado
    • University of Massachusetts
  4. In an article for the school paper, what did Randy accuse Binford of doing?
    • Insider trading
    • Polluting
    • Using foreign parts in its tools
    • Not providing safety instructions
  5. What country did Randy go to conduct evironmental research?
    • Ecuador
    • Haiti
    • Costa Rica
    • Belize
  6. Which of the boys had a run in with the police?
    • Brad
    • Randy
    • Mark
    • None of them
  7. What was the name of Brad's first girlfriend?
    • Jessica
    • Jennifer
    • Julie
    • Janice
  8. Which of the kids was the smartest?
    • Brad
    • Randy
    • Mark
  9. Which of the brothers needed glasses?
    • Brad
    • Randy
    • Mark
  10. At one point, JIll was afraid one of the kids was going to kill her and Tim. Which kid (temporarily)terrified her?
    • Brad
    • Randy
    • Mark
    • None of them

Answer Key

  1. A Swiss army knife
  2. Journalism
  3. UCLA
  4. Polluting
  5. Costa Rica
  6. Brad
  7. Jennifer
  8. Randy
  9. Mark
  10. Mark

In Your Opinion

© 2021 Dr John Bridges