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Tim Allen turns 70: His journey from ‘The Tool Man’ to ‘Last Man Standing’

Tim Allen is celebrating his 70th birthday. Here is a look back at his career from "Home Improvement" to "Toy Story" to "infinity and beyond!"

Tim Allen is celebrating his 70th birthday. 

The legendary comedian got his start in the world of stand-up comedy in 1975 and has not looked back since. Throughout his almost 50 years in the business, Allen has brought to life so many iconic characters. 

Here's a look back at Allen's journey through Hollywood from "Home Improvement" to "Toy Story" to "infinity and beyond!"


After getting his start as a stand-up comedian, and putting in over 15 years, Allen found his big break playing Tim "The Tool-Man" Taylor on the hit ABC sitcom, "Home Improvement." The show ran on the network for eight seasons, from 1991 to 1999, and also starred Patricia Richardson as his wife, as well as Taran Noah Smith, Jonathan Taylor Thomas and Zachery Ty Bryan as his sons.

The show followed Allen's character as he hosts his own show, "Tool Time," while raising his three sons. One of the more iconic relationships on the show is the one between Tim Taylor and his neighbor Wilson (the late Earl Hindman), who often shares his wisdom and gives Taylor advice from the other side of the fence. Another iconic relationship is the one Allen's character shares with Richard Karn's Al Borland.

Karn and Allen have remained close over the years, even reuniting in 2021 for the show, "Assembly Required," and the 2022 show "More Power." When speaking with "Entertainment Tonight" in February 2021, Allen said he wanted Karn to be part of the show because it felt "like a reality extension of what ‘Tool Time’ really was, and it was as if Al Borland and Tim Taylor were back together again."

"My friendship with Tim has lasted over 30 years... in a row! The chance to do a show like Tool Time was unquestionably exciting," Karn said in a 2022 statement. "We may not have ['Home Improvement' company] Binford but we still will have a world of fun!"

Ahead of the premiere of the show's seventh season, Allen spoke with Bobbie Wygant in 1997, and told her how much he was looking forward to returning to the show.

"I would love to be there. I don't think we're done yet. I think we have still some issues to cover, family issues, I mean it could go on for quite a while," he explained at the time. "I just want to make sure it's the right time to leave, and you always get toward the end of it, and you never know." 

In November 2022, Allen's co-star Richardson spoke with Fox News Digital about her time on the show, including sharing some of the fan mail she received. "The primary thing I saw the most in the mail was, ‘Are you looking through our windows? The things you and Tim fight about are just like our family,’" she recalled. 


Richardson also noted that Allen didn't get "enough credit for the acting that he was doing."

"He had never acted before," she explained. "He was getting acting lessons on the side. We're [actors are] self-conscious, or we don't know what we're doing or we're not really listening to the other person and just trusting ourselves to just respond. Tim did that immediately."

"Home Improvement" went off the air in 1999, and Allen recently revealed if he would ever take part in a reboot.

He told E! News in November 2022, "the cast and crew of that show" have discussed the potential for a reboot before, and even got close to filming "a short film for charity," however, they couldn't get everyone's schedules to align. Allen added he thinks one of his other roles came close to reprising the role of Tim Taylor.

"Tim Taylor, he kind of graduated in the TV world into Mike Baxter," he explained of his "Last Man Standing" character. "He's kind of a gag, and I think we did it on ‘Last Man Standing’ – we showed the two together in a dream sequence. Tim Taylor kind of grew into Mike Baxter, as an actor and as a man." 

In terms of a "Home Improvement" reboot, Allen would "love to see" a show based on what the three Taylor sons are up to today, saying he thinks "that'd be an amazing piece of television."

While still starring on "Home Improvement," Allen took on his first lead role in a movie, playing Santa Claus in the 1994 movie "The Santa Clause."

The movie revolves around the character Scott Calvin, who while spending Christmas with his son ends up putting on Santa's coat, which leads him to become the next Santa Claus. While this sounds like it would be a fun job for Calvin, he couldn't accept it due to the turmoil it was causing within his family. 

Eventually he embraced his new role and moved to the North Pole with the elves full time. The movie has since gone on to be considered a classic.

"This whole thing becoming a part of every season, to be Santa Claus, is formidable and gratifying and humbling," Allen told ABC Audio in December 2022. "There is no word for it that, all of a sudden, this [has become] one of those movies like ‘A Christmas Story’ and ‘Miracle [on 34th Street].’ It's in that group." 

Allen credits the success of the movie and its staying power to the script, saying "the script was so well written." The original script, however, was a lot darker, with Allen telling Jimmy Fallon on "The Tonight Show" in 2018 that his character was originally supposed to shoot Santa when he caught him on his roof.

The first movie was such a big success, it turned into a franchise, with two sequels. The second movie, "The Santa Clause 2," dealt with a divorced Scott Calvin finding out about a rule called "the Mrs. Clause," which states anyone who takes on the job of being Santa must be married, meaning Scott now had to find a wife. He eventually chose Carol, played by Elizabeth Mitchell.

In January 2021, Allen shared the one moment that sticks out when he thinks about the second movie. He recalled filming the opening scene in which the Air Force is coming close to finding the North Pole and exposing the secret of Santa, with him telling Kelly Clarkson on "The Kelly Clarkson Show" that two kids fighting kept delaying them.

"It was late afternoon, I had been in this stuff way too long, I'm very angry, sweaty, and the camera just had to come around and get my eyes, and then the movie opens, it's Santa. These kids again, ‘he hit me! He pinched me!’ Fifteen takes later, the kid said one more word and I let out the loudest F-bomb, and I turned around and there are 12 children [who] looked like that you had ripped their legs off. Their Santa just screamed the F-bomb."

He explained that Disney executives had to come in and try to smooth things over by telling the kids and the parents he actually said a Swedish word that means "holiday trim." The reaction from the child actors was enough for Allen to make sure he never swore in front of children again.

With the second movie going on to achieve so much success, a third, "The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause," was released in 2006. The movie brought back all the characters from the first two movies, with the addition of comedy legend, Martin Short. Despite the all-star cast, Allen thought it could have been even better.

"What happened was that we became infected by our own success. [1994’s ‘The Santa Clause’] was huge, but we had about $11 for special effects. [2002’s ‘The Santa Clause 2’] was an extension of that, but now we could put lights in the window because we had more production money," Allen told The Hollywood Reporter in 2022. 

"By number three, all we had was money. The story kind of just got bigger and bigger. And the fact that Marty Short and I never did a scene together that was funny, I’m still going huh. That’s the funniest human being I’ve ever been around, other than me, and we never got a shot to do a real big scene together."

Sixteen years after the release of the third movie, Allen stepped back into the Santa suit for the Disney + original series, "The Santa Clauses." The show follows Scott and Carol struggling to raise their two children in the North Pole, leading Scott to make the ultimate decision to retire as Santa Claus – and to the near destruction of Christmas and the North Pole.

Of getting back into the Santa suit, Allen told Fox News Digital in December 2022: "You know, you get around that suit, and I haven't changed. It's become that stupid thing, and it ain't me. I’m nowhere near as nice as that guy. It's just amazing how I become that guy, walk on set and people react to it, and I honor it. I don't make any jokes anymore as I watch my performance, and I literally think I'm better as Santa Claus than I am as anything else because I think for any actor to tease or put on a costume, it's easy to become that thing."


The show stars Allen's real-life daughter Elizabeth Allen-Dick as his on-screen daughter Sandra. She was originally meant to play a background elf, but Allen said she knocked her audition out of the park and earned her starring role.

"He taught me a lot of things but one that stuck with me was [about] getting into the character and then adding your little twist to it," Allen-Dick told "Entertainment Tonight" in November 2022.

She added that he said, "Being that character, get used to the character, make friends with the character and then kind of add some of your qualities to it and see how you can make it your own."

While still appearing on "Home Improvement," and a year after making his big screen debut in "The Santa Clause," Allen voiced Buzz Lightyear, one of the most well-known animated characters in Disney's "Toy Story."

Allen played Lightyear, a toy who doesn't realize he's a toy, which causes some friction between him and cowboy Woody, who is also afraid Buzz is going to replace him as their owner Andy's favorite toy. The two must somehow find a way to work together when they are separated from Andy and the rest of the toys, and find themselves in the clutches of the evil neighbor Sid.

When speaking about his character at the time, Allen called Buzz "innocent," adding that he liked "the fact that he's just a simple guy still trying to figure out who he was." Allen also noted that he enjoyed the fact that Buzz "went from this pompous self-assured guy to nothing" when he realized he was just a toy, calling the whole thing tragic.

Four years later, they all got back together for "Toy Story 2." This time around, Woody is stolen by an art collector when he finds himself in the middle of a yard sale, prompting the band of toys left behind to find someway to bring Woody back home.

This movie gives a lot of insight into the history of everyone's favorite toys, revealing Woody is based on a character from a show, and is reunited with his horse Bullseye from the show and a cowgirl, Jessie. Also, in a very Star Wars twist, Buzz also learns that the central villain in his backstory, Zurg, is his father.

Throughout the course of making the movie, Allen explained he and Tom Hanks, who voices Woody, became very close friends. Allen joked with Kelly Clarkson on "The Kelly Clarkson Show" in November 2022, they have "the most peculiar lunches" together, during which they sit too close to one another and talk, something they've been doing two or three times a year since the first "Toy Story" was released in 1995.

"He and I differ on so many things. I adore that man's heart and mind," he said on the show. "I don't think I've ever trusted a human being as much as Tom to listen to me, and vice versa. We've very different opinions on so many things, but he's gotten me to accept his. He's really a wonderful engaging person, and he's the first guy that listens to me and doesn't judge." 

Over 10 years after the second movie came out, "Toy Story 3" was released in 2010. In the third film, Andy is ready to go off to college, and the toys are anxious about what will happen to them once he leaves. The crew ends up at a day care center, spending the whole movie trying to break free.

In the end, they find their way back to Andy, who decides to give his beloved toys to a young neighbor, hoping that she'll enjoy them as much as he did. There were many new characters introduced in the third movie, one of which stuck with Allen.

"Buzz is really who I like to be. I really do like being Buzz. He's really a character I developed with [director] John Lasseter, I like that character," Allen said in a behind the scenes feature for the movie. "But to push it, [the] Ken [doll] is really interesting. If Buzz is deluded, Ken is super deluded."

The success of the third movie led Disney to green light a fourth, "Toy Story 4," which was released in 2019. In this movie, the toys reunite with Woody's long-lost girlfriend Bo Peep, and get a taste of what it's like to be a "lost toy," before ultimately deciding to live as free toys from then on.

"It is so emotional, it is so funny, it's so big the idea of what they've come up with I'm startled. Three was, I thought, amazing. This, I couldn't even get through the last scene," Allen said while on "The Talk" in September 2018. "They've got great characters, but a couple of scenes toward the end were really hard to get through."


It seems Buzz Lightyear and Woody will continue to thrill audiences with their adventures for at least one more movie. Bob Iger, the CEO of Disney, announced in February a fifth Toy Story movie is in the works.

In 2011, Allen made his big return to television in the hit ABC sitcom, "Last Man Standing." On the show, Allen played Mike Baxter, a conservative father of three daughters, who each have their own ideas when it comes to their political views.

One of his daughters thinks exactly like him and isn't afraid to share her point of view, while the others don't care about politics, and the oldest has the exact opposite views. In a play off the hit sitcom from the 70s, "All in the Family," his oldest daughter is also married to someone with opposite viewpoints to Mike, which often causes them to clash.

"What we wanted to do is not make fun of religion, not make fun of family, celebrate wanting to have a relationship that's affectionate, just celebrate what's good about American family but be provocative enough," he explained on "The View" in November 2019. "This guy is Archie Bunker that went to the University of Michigan, that's what I wanted."

He went on to explain the goal of the show was to poke fun at both sides of the political spectrum and show that a compromise between the two sides can be reached. He told "Entertainment Weekly" in September 2019, "we had a point of view on this show" explaining they had writers with a variety of views. 

"The liberal side would make fun of the liberals, the conservatives would make fun of the conservatives, but overall you've got people who made fun," he said.

Despite having a steady viewership and going on to become ABC's second-most-watched sitcom in the 2016 to 2017 season, the network decided to cancel the show. 

"We're all going, ‘This is the best show I’ve ever been on! What? We're off the air.' We all thought we were at the top of their game at ABC. Who knows how networks work, I don't know, but it was dropped," he said on "The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon" in November 2022. "I felt like the last guy at the hospital. I wouldn't let it go. I took the sets, I have a little production studio of my own, and I set up the Mike Baxter set… We had six stories in the can, ABC said we're gonna go a different direction, I said, ‘What, nonprofitable?’"

Fans of the show were devastated to learn the news, and were then delighted to learn it found a new home on Fox. While Allen was happy to get the call from Fox letting him know they had picked up the show, he was unsure it would work, since everyone had already moved on to other projects. In the end almost everyone returned, and the show continued to be a success.


Once the show moved to Fox, it ran for three more seasons, and in the process introduced a new character – a foreign exchange student from Hong Kong named Jen – saw Mike Baxter welcome more grandchildren and continued to entertain audiences across America.

The show ended in 2021 after nine seasons, with Allen saying it was just as hard to say goodbye to the show the second time around, something he was surprised by.

"To be very honest, I have had problems letting go of this one. It’s just been three or four weeks, and I’m literally just feeling better. Never have I enjoyed, outside ofHome Improvement’ and maybe moments of ‘Galaxy Quest,’ one of these jobs," he said in a press conference for Fox in May 2021. "This crew, from the guy at the gate to Radford inside to people we ate with, I loved every second of this experience."

He continued: "This set, I looked at every set piece. I walked through every hallway over and over again, always looking around. It didn’t help. Having this pulled from us several times like that, you get used to sudden death and for some reason I prefer that. For whatever reason this was the end of the nine-year stretch on this. [It’s] very difficult on me."

Allen married his college girlfriend Laura Deibel in 1984, with the couple welcoming their daughter, Catherine, five years later in 1989. The couple legally separated in 1999, when "Home Improvement" first went off the air and Allen's career was on the rise.

When looking back on his marriage prior to his separation, Allen admitted he "let his family slide" and put too much focus on his work life over his home life. Their divorce was finalized in 2003.

"How many times do I have to tell myself that, on my deathbed, I’m not gonna say, ‘Gee, I wish I’d spent more time at the office?’" Allen told USA Weekend in 1997. 

In 2001, Allen began dating actress Jane Hajduk, going on to marry her in 2006. They welcomed their daughter Elizabeth in March 2009. 

"I was gone so much in my first marriage, I love the moments when I engage with my youngest daughter now," Allen told Parade in 2011. "It’s not my thing to sit on the ground and play tea party, but I’ll do it because it’s a moment that will stick with me forever."


While Allen's fans look to him as a famous comedian, he told Closer Magazine in 2017 that neither one of his daughters think he's particularly funny, although he admitted he still tries to get a laugh out of them every so often.

"The older one will roll her eyes, and the younger one just stares at me – I think she’s done with me," Allen told the outlet. "But I still try to play jokes and make them laugh."


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