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Tuesday, September 08, 2015

September 8, 1981

Welcome to the first Tuesday Timeline entry in about a week and a half!

I do apologize to those of you who were expecting an entry on September 1.  I didn't get my Internet hooked back up until September 7 (I spent the period between August 28 and September 6 shopping for furniture and unpacking all of my belongings to put in the new place).  But I promise that I will make it up to you next year.  In fact, I've already written myself a reminder to do a September 1 Tuesday Timeline entry in 2016.  Not that I have a hard time remembering in general.  I just do it because I want to.

In the meantime, it is September 8, and for most people in my neck of the woods, it happens to be the first day back to school and college.  I do hope that all of you have a great first week back at classes, and I hope that all of you grade school students remembered your green crayons.  You will have a difficult time learning about photosynthesis without one.

So, it's been a while since I have been back on this blog, and I have to tell you, I am a bit rusty at this.  Therefore, I've chosen a topic that is an easy one to write about.  I guess you could call it a "where are they now" kind of post.

That's your only hint as we proceed with the general happenings of September 8 throughout history.

1504 - Michelangelo's "David" is unveiled to the public

1781 - The Battle of Eutaw Springs in South Carolina takes place during the American Revolutionary War

1888 - The body of Annie Chapman - the second victim of serial killer Jack the Ripper - is found

1892 - The Pledge of Allegiance is first recited

1900 - A devastating hurricane flattens the community of Galveston, Texas; 8,000 people lose their lives - one of the deadliest hurricanes to hit the United States

1921 - Margaret Gorman becomes the first person to win the title of Miss America

1922 - Actor/comedian Sid Caesar (d. 2014) is born in Yonkers, New York

1925 - Actor Peter Sellers (d. 1980) is born in England

1930 - Scotch tape is first marketed by 3M

1932 - Country singer Patsy Cline (d. 1963) is born in Gore, Virginia

1943 - President Eisenhower publicly announces the Allied armistice with Italy during World War II

1947 - Singer Benjamin Orr (d. 2000) is born in Lakewood, Ohio

1951 - The Treaty of San Francisco is signed

1952 - The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) makes its first television broadcast

1966 - Star Trek premieres on NBC

1975 - Leonard Matlovich, an American Air Force Tech Sergeant, appears on the cover of TIME Magazine in full uniform, officially coming out as a homosexual

1988 - Due to forest fires that were out of control, Yellowstone National Park is closed to the public for the very first time

1991 - Actor Brad Davis dies of a drug overdose, aged 41

2003 - 15/Love co-stars Jaclyn Linetsky and Vadim Schneider are killed in a motor vehicle accident in Quebec, Canada - both were just 17 years old

And for celebrity birthdays today, we have the following people turning one year older; Jacqueline Ceballos, Bernie Sanders, Mark Lindsay Chapman, Anne Diamond, Heather Thomas, Carmen Campagne, Aimee Mann, David Steele, Thomas Kretschmann, Brad Silberling, Darlene Zschech, Kimberly Peirce, David Arquette, Brooke Burke-Charvet, Martin Freeman, Khalid Goncalves, Lisa Kennedy Montgomery, Gabrial McNair, Troy Sanders, Larenz Tate, Nate Corddry, Alecia "P!nk" Moore, Austin "Chumlee" Russell, Chantal Jones, and Ella Rae Peck.

Okay, so what date are we going to go back in time to today?

Well, how about we go back to the early 1980s?  September 8, 1981, to be exact.

Now, as I mentioned before in this post, today's subject is one of those "Where Are They Now" type stories.  September 8, 1981 happens to be the birthdate of today's Tuesday Timeline spotlight, making him 34 years old today.  And what makes this person so interesting is that he made it big when he was barely ten years old, and left the industry at the peak of his popularity.  He's made very few appearances since, leaving some to wonder what happened to him.  Some believe that he was disenchanted with the industry and yearned for a normal life.  Some believe that he got hooked up on drugs.  There was even that nasty little death rumour that all celebrities that have not been heard from in some time have experienced.

I figure that I would set the record straight by doing some research into his life before, during, and after success to find out the real truth behind what really happened to Jonathan Taylor Thomas.

And to begin this story, we'll start with the moment in which he became a huge star.

It was September 17, 1991 - nine days after Thomas turned ten.  A brand new show was set to air on ABC's Tuesday Night comedy block, a series of programming that also included ratings winners "Roseanne" and "Full House".  It was a show that starred comedian Tim Allen as the bumbling host of a home improvement show called "Tool Time", and how he balanced his work life with his home life, where he was husband to Jill, and father to three boys between the ages of six and ten.

The show was "Home Improvement", and it was one of ABC's most successful programs, ranking within the Top 10 during its entire eight season run.

And while Tim Allen and Patricia Richardson were the leads of the program, it can be argued that the breakout star of the show was Jonathan Taylor Thomas, who played middle son, Randy.  Mind you, the other two Taylor kids played by Taran Noah Smith and Zachary Ty Bryan were quite good as well, but it was Jonathan who was on the cover of teen magazines.  It was Jonathan who was plastered all over the bedroom walls of teenage girls.  It was Jonathan who ended up with choice movie and film roles, all before the age of sixteen.

Not bad for a kid who was born Jonathan Weiss in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania who got his start on a really bad Brady Bunch spinoff in 1990.

Certainly, "Home Improvement" was a definite step up from being a Brady child's child.  But that wasn't the only place where he shone.  In 1994, Thomas won the coveted role of young Simba in the film "The Lion King", which is still considered one of the best Disney films ever made.  And his work with Disney continued throughout the 1990s, with Thomas appearing in such films as "I'll Be Home For Christmas", "Tom and Huck", and "Wild America". 

It almost seemed like it was destined that Thomas would become Hollywood's next golden boy, with dreams of a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, an Oscar nomination, and the chance to become People Magazine's Sexiest Man Alive.

Which is why many people were shocked when at the age of 17, Thomas made the decision to walk away from show business.

He made the decision shortly after "Home Improvement" ended filming on its seventh season and had been renewed for an eighth.  While Thomas still had good feelings about the show, and had no ill-will towards any of his castmates or people that he worked with, he felt as though he needed to do something more than act.  He wanted to focus more on his studies and graduate from high school with the possibility of going to college to further expand his opportunities.

And, you know...I say bravo to him.  It takes a lot of maturity to weigh the pros and cons of everything before making the choice that he felt was right for him.  And ultimately, he ended up getting what he wanted.  In 2000, he graduated from high school, and ten years later earned a degree from the Columbia University School of General Studies - after taking a turn at Harvard University.  I'd say he did well academically, wouldn't you?

And, so the eighth and final season of the show aired during the 1998/1999 season, and while Thomas did make appearances in a couple of episodes, the show ended its run on May 25, 1999 - without Thomas participating.  Although, Thomas was working on a film during that shoot, so I suppose he had a good reason.

So, it's been sixteen years since "Home Improvement" ended.  What happened to Jonathan Taylor Thomas?

Well, I can tell you that he isn't dead.  I can also tell you that unlike some child stars, Thomas has never really been in trouble with the law, or has been addicted to drugs, or anything like that.  In fact, you could say that he turned out quite...normal!

And while his acting jobs have slowed down, he hasn't completely given up on it.  While he mostly limits himself to voice roles now, Thomas did make a few appearances in Tim Allen's most recent sitcom, "Last Man Standing", now currently in its fifth season.

Just goes to show you that the influence of Hollywood doesn't wreck everybody.  If only Taran Noah Smith learned that lesson...

Happy birthday, Jonathan Taylor Thomas! 

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