Tim Allen was Arrested for Trafficking in 1978 and Almost Spent Life in Prison

If you already knew Tim Allen had an awesome mustache and was cuffed and stuffed for trafficking then why didn’t you tell me?

I cant figure out if this is common knowledge or if I just happen to stumble upon a great Yahoo! article about where celebrities were when they were 25.  More than likely the former.  For Warren Buffet, he was an investment salesman for Buffett-Falk & Co in Nebraska.  Good old Mark Cuban was a bartender in Dallas and Martha Stewart had just quit her Wall Street job to be a stay at home mom.  A year later she started a catering company that did pretty well.  All are good stories but Tim Allen’s really shocked me.

In 1978, when Tim Allen was 25 years old, he was detained at an airport in Michigan after he was found to be in the possession of a lot of cocaine.  The biggest problem for Allen was that he was in possession of over 650 grams of the Colombian bam bam.  As Michigan law stated, he was potentially going to prison for life for possessing a pound and half of cocaine.

The law was passed to teach people a lesson. Selling more than 650 grams of cocaine got you life in prison. They thought it would be a deterrent. It wasn’t. 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 — and I just told myself, I cant do this for seven and a half years. I want to kill myself

Instead of spending the rest of his years in the joint, and subsequently depriving us of a major piece nostalgia, Allen agreed to roll over on the people he was associating with at the time of the arrest.  He wasn’t just giving up one or two people either.  Allen gave the names of 21 individuals who he had worked with to bring his sentence down to 5 years.  Allen claims that comedy saved his life while in prison.

When I went to jail, reality hit so hard that it took my breath away, took my stance away, took my strength away. I was there buck naked, humiliated, sitting in my own crap and urine — this is a metaphor. My ego had run off. Your ego is the biggest coward.

That’s when the comic in me appeared. The comic said, Have you ever killed yourself before? Do you know how it works? Let me tell you how its going to end up: You’re gonna get it wrong and end up hanging a few inches off the ground with your shirt just over your ears, going: Oh, fuck. Somebody help me You’re gonna hang like an idiot for an hour with everybody just looking at you. The image of my head straining with the shirt over my ears made me laugh. The comic in me showed up, the purest form, and saved my life.


After prison, Tim Allen Dick dropped his last name and appeared on stage as just Tim Allen.  He crafted his routine around an inept man with power tools.  Sound familiar?  In 1991, 13 years after his arrest, we were all introduced to Home Improvement.

What if Allen didn’t roll over on those other guys?  We would have no Home Improvement, no Buzz Lightyear, no Jonathan Taylor Thomas and no AL BORLAND!  Seriously though, I feel like this is something I should have known about for a long time but I never came across it.  Perhaps that is exactly how Tim Allen would like it?  I wonder if there is a day that goes by where he doesn’t think about the guys he put in the clink, or more importantly, are the guys in the clink thinking everyday about how Tim “The Toolman” Taylor put them away by snitching?

[insert Tim Allen classic Home Improvement grunt]

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