Tim Allen: How ‘The Santa Clause’ Star Moved On From His Drug-Related Arrest

Many people know Tim Allen today as a hilarious actor who has been around for decades and starred in numerous popular shows and movies. He rose to fame in the 1990’s sitcom Home Improvement as Tim Taylor, one of the most famous TV dads of all time.

Since then, Allen has been entertaining generations of fans in movies like The Santa Clause and Toy Story. However, something that many people might not know today is that, before his successful Hollywood career, Allen was actually a convicted felon.

Read on below to learn about what happened during that part of Allen’s life and how he overcame this obstacle.

Tim Allen spent two years in prison over drug-related charges

Actors Elizabeth Mitchell and Tim Allen of "The Santa Clause 2"
Actors Elizabeth Mitchell and Tim Allen of “The Santa Clause 2” | Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images

In 1978, Allen (who was in his 20’s at the time) was a comedian who did various shows around his home state of Michigan. His career would soon be postponed, though, when he was arrested in October for possession of over 650 grams of cocaine.

Allen was facing life imprisonment, but his sentence was reduced when he agreed to plead guilty and provided the authorities with names of around two dozens other drug dealers. Allen went on to serve two years and four months at a federal prison in Minnesota.

His life in prison was anything but easy. Allen once recalled: “I was put in a holding cell with twenty other guys — we had to crap in the same crapper in the middle of the room.” He even revealed that he thought about committing suicide, but decided against it because he was sure that his attempt would have failed.

In any case, Allen was released in 1981 on parole.

How Tim Allen created a Hollywood career for himself

After being released from prison, Allen moved to Los Angeles to seriously pursue a career in comedy. He eventually was able to do gigs on late-night talk shows, but his career did not pick up until the 1990s.

In 1991, he was cast in the sitcom Home Improvement, which was based on stand-up work that Allen himself did. Home Improvement was a huge hit with the public and ran for eight seasons.

The success of the show allowed Allen to continue his thriving acting career. In the 1990s and after, he starred in several popular movies such as Toy Story (1995), The Shaggy Dog (2006), and Wild Hogs (2007). He also became an icon of Christmas movies after appearing in hits like The Santa Clause (1994) and Christmas With the Kranks (2004).

Since 2011, Allen has also been starring in the sitcom Last Man Standing.

Tim Allen says that his time in prison humbled him

Allen has no doubt been a great example of someone who managed to turn his life around and not let his past mistakes define him. According to Allen, being prison was a wake-up call for him to start living life differently.

“It was a watershed moment,” Allen said to Closer in 2017. “It put me in a position of great humility, and I was able to make amends to friends and family and refocus my life on setting and achieving goals

In the 1990s, Allen also used alcohol to struggle with his newfound fame – a move that landed him a DUI arrest. He checked into rehab afterward and learned to overcome his alcohol addiction. Allen is now 21-year sober.

Allen has cited comedy in helping him cope through some of his darkest moments. It has allowed him to continue being optimistic about life.

He told Closer: “I’m 68 percent joyous, aiming for 70 percent. I’m also extremely grateful for where I am today.”