Richard Karn

Active - 1995 - Present  |   Born - Feb 17, 1956 in Seattle, Washington, United States  |   Genres - Comedy, History, Children's/Family

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Biography by Bill Ecklund

Richard Karn was born Richard Karn Wilson in Seattle, Wash., in 1956. He earned a B.F.A. at the University of Washington in their Professional Actor Training Program and played in off-Broadway and Broadway productions (his Broadway debut was playing the "suit of armor" in Me and My Girl), in the 1980s. However, it was his role as the shy, but confident Al Borland on the 1990s television sitcom Home Improvement that made Karn a star. It was a role he discovered by accident -- or almost an accident -- when he ran a stop sign, was sent to traffic school, and met an agent who told him about the Home Improvement audition. Looking back at the success of the series and Karn's beloved character, it seems hard to believe that the actor kept his job as an apartment manager during the first season, unsure of the fledgling show's future. During his years on the sitcom, Karn appeared as a host for TV specials and in made-for-TV films, including ABC's Picture Perfect (1995) and HBO's Bram Stoker's Legend of the Mummy (1998). Following Home Improvement, Karn found a new niche as a game-show host, replacing Louie Anderson as the host of Family Feud in 2002, and Patrick Duffy as the host of Bingo America in 2008. Karn is an avid golfer and has become a national spokesman for the "Mr. Handyman" franchise.

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  • Was a member of Beta Theta Pi fraternity.
  • Gained drama experience in Scotland at the Edinburgh Festival.
  • Shortened his name to Richard Karn because there was already a Richard Wilson registered with the Screen Actors Guild.
  • Did commercials for Orchard Supply Hardware in the 1990s.
  • Known for his costarring role as Al Borland in the 1990s sitcom Home Improvement.