Who is Richard Karn?

Richard Karn Wilson was born on the 17th February 1956, in Seattle, Washington State, USA. He is a game and TV show host and an actor, who is probably best recognized for his appearances predominantly in sitcoms and TV series, such as “Home Improvement”, “Ctrl”, “Watching Ellie” and “The Bold and the Beautiful”. In addition, he is well known for being a host of several successful TV and game shows such as “Amanda and the Fox” and “Family Feud”.

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Early Life and Childhood

Richard is the second child of Louise and Gene Wilson. His father was a construction worker, but also a soldier who fought in World War II which had an impact on Richard as his father was always firm and thought him to be the same. His mother was a tender and artistic woman who was a painter, and who brought the necessary balance into the family – she died of cancer in 1983. Karn has an older sister named Sue Wilson. The only other thing known about his childhood is that he knew from a very early age that acting would be his greatest passion – he enjoyed making-up stories and playing them for his sister and parents.

Later on, all of his extra-curricular activities involved acting and public performances, so he was engaged in a great number of local theatrical organisations and programs.


Following the matriculation from primary school, he started attending Roosevelt High School, located in his hometown. Richard explained in several interviews that by then he was pretty sure what he wanted his profession to be and what he enjoyed the most, so he put all his energy in acting. He continued being involved with local amateur theatres, taking parts in various plays whenever he had enough time.

Richard Karn

After he matriculated from high school with good grades, he enrolled in the University of Washington. He was always proactive and participated in numerous events and organizations, including being a part of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity. Moreover, he took part in the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland, where he got a chance to gain significant acting experience.

Career Beginnings

He graduated in 1979 with a degree in drama which led him to his first job on screen – a commercial for a beer named Michelob. He then moved to New York to pursue a career in acting, believing that it would be much easier to find the job there.

However, after several commercials and parts in a couple of plays, he stopped getting offers and struggled to pay rent, even though he joined an organization called Screen Actors Guild which gave him hope that he would do better in the entertainment industry. He needed to change his last name, as there was already an actor with the same name as him, so he chose Karn instead of Wilson, and moved to Los Angeles, as everybody knew that there were a lot more opportunities for actors.

Richard Karn

Posted by SAG-AFTRA Foundation on Tuesday, July 2, 2019

He desperately needed any kind of job just to make ends meet in his first months there, so he became a manager of an apartment complex, as well as a caterer at a local synagogue. In addition, he enrolled into a traffic school where he met an agent who told him about a new TV series entitled “Home Improvement”, and encouraged him to audition.

Acting Career

The role of Al had already been given to another actor, so Richard got a minor role in the series’ pilot, however, the other actor cancelled, so the producers offer Karn one of the leading roles, which helped him gain a lot of the public’s attention.

As the series aired between 1991 and 1999, and became more popular each year, Richard didn’t have much time and energy to take part in many other projects, but he did make guest appearances in several TV series such as “Carol and Company”, “Burke’s Law” and “Soul Man”. He subsequently starred in the role of Agent Dainville in the 2000 TV movie “The Pooch and the Pauper”, and played Ollie Plant in the comedy “Most Vertical Primate” (2001). Between 2001 and 2008, he was cast as Theo in the popular TV series “The 70’s Show”, appeared in the comedy “Sex and the Teenage Mind” as well as in “Air Buddies”, “Reality School” and many more.

In 2009, he featured as Arthur Piller in the TV series “Ctrl” which was another big project in his career, adding a significant amount to his net worth. His next major role was playing Shane Bingham in the romantic comedy “Head Over Spurs in Love”, which was followed by his portrayals of Perry Merrow in the movie “Gordon Family Tree”, and Jim in the film “Stars Are Already Dead”.

Career as a Host

Besides being an actor, Karn was always interested in becoming a host, as he felt that he had charisma, talent and ideas to share with the audience and other stars, so he landed a job as a host for the 4th season of the game show called “Family Feud”. After four years he needed to step down because of numerous acting projects he got involved with. However, he missed the job so much that after a couple of years he decided to clear his acting schedule and go back to being a host, this time of the game show “Bingo America”. In addition, he tried himself in radio hosting as well, being a substitute host for GSN Radio.

Personal Life and Net Worth

Richard has been married to singer and actress Tudi Roche since 1985 – they met and fell in love long before either of them became famous. They were colleagues on his first major project “Home Improvement”, and welcomed their only child, a son they named Cooper, in 1992 while still filming it. Speaking about his wealth, it is estimated by authoritative sources that Richard counts his net worth at over $8 million, as of mid-2019, largely from a career in the entertainment industry now spanning almost 40 years.

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