Earl Hindman, 61; Wilson in ‘Home Improvement’

From Associated Press

Actor Earl Hindman, best known for playing a neighbor whose face was forever obscured by a fence on the television show “Home Improvement,” died Monday of lung cancer at Stamford Hospital in Stamford, Conn. He was 61.

As Wilson Wilson, the neighbor of Tim Allen’s character on the long-running sitcom, Hindman dispensed folksy advice from behind a white picket fence, with only his eyes and forehead visible to audiences.

“Earl had a very deep voice. It was very rich, very warm and very recognizable,” his wife, the Rev. Molly McGreevy of St. Francis Episcopal Church in Stamford, told The Advocate of Stamford. “He was the funniest human being I ever met. Even after 27 years of marriage, he could always crack me up.”


Despite his fame, Hindman remained a modest man who enjoyed stamp and coin collecting, listening to country music and playing poker with his friends.

“He was not impressed with himself -- not in the least,” McGreevy said. “He was a person who was never changed by success.”

Before appearing on the show, he played Det. Lt. Bob Reid for 16 years on the daytime drama “Ryan’s Hope.”

“He was the kind of actor you depended on,” said Helen Gallagher, one of his “Ryan’s Hope” co-stars. “He was a very steady and very talented actor and such a down-to-Earth human being.”

Hindman was born in Bisbee, Ariz., and studied acting at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

He made his name in New York theater, appearing in “Dark of the Moon” off-Broadway in 1970 and in “The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel” at the Public Theater in 1971. He also acted in two short-lived Broadway plays and in several movies, including “The Ballad of the Sad Cafe” (1991) and “Final” (2001).


In addition to his wife, Hindman is survived by his mother, a brother and a sister, all of whom live in Arizona.