Encyclopedia Of Detroit

Allen, Tim

Actor and comedian Tim Allen was born Timothy Alan Dick in Denver, Colorado on June 13, 1953. His father died in a car accident when he was just eleven. Allen’s mother re-married and moved Tim and his five siblings to join her husband and his three children in Birmingham, Michigan. While growing up outside of Detroit, Allen developed a love for cars. Allen attended Central Michigan University before transferring to Western Michigan University in 1974. He graduated in 1976 with a Bachelor of Science degree in communications and a minor in philosophy and design.

Allen was arrested in 1978 at the Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport in Michigan for possession of cocaine. While awaiting trial in 1979, he began work as a creative director at a small Detroit advertising firm and performed standup comedy at Detroit’s Comedy Castle in the evenings under his given name, Tim Dick. After pleading guilty in 1981 to drug trafficking charges (for which he received an eight-year sentence) Allen served two years and four months at a federal prison in Minnesota.

Legal troubles behind him, Allen was offered a position on a local talk show. He changed his name to Tim Allen because the producer was hesitant to show his original name on screen. In 1988, while doing commercial work and performing in nightclubs around Detroit, Allen appeared in a film called Comedy’s Dirtiest Dozen. He soon moved to Los Angeles, California, where audio clips from his standup acts were aired on a radio show called The Five O’clock Funnies.

Allen won a Cable Ace Award for Best Performance in a Comedy Special for his work at the Just for Laughs International Comedy Festival. His 1990 Showtime television special Men are Pigs continued to further his career. Allen began working with The Disney Corporation to develop a television show in 1990. This effort resulted in the hugely successful Home Improvement, which began in 1991 and within three years became a number one show on the Nielsen top ten list. It ran for eight seasons until 1999. Beginning in 1992 Allen won nine consecutive People’s Choice Awards for Favorite Male Television Performer. He was also nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series twice.

Allen broke into the film industry in 1995 with The Santa Clause and, around the same time, became an author with his first book, Don’t Stand Too Close to a Naked Man. He published his second book, I’m Not Really Here in 1996. Allen’s film career continued to flourish with two sequels to The Santa Clause, Galaxy Quest, the Toy Story films, Christmas with the Kranks, For Richer or Poorer and Shaggy Dog. Tim Allen continues to act and perform stand up along with car collecting and running his two companies, Boxing Cat Films and Time Allen Design.



Movie poster proof for "Crazy on the Outside", signed by Tim Allen

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