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From Cocaine Bust to Santa Claus: How Tim Allen Traded Prison for Christmas Fame

Source: Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Department; MEGA

Dec. 24 2023, Published 2:18 p.m. ET

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He is one of the faces of Christmas. He even starred as Santa Claus in a film trilogy that runs ad nauseam during the holiday season.

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But Tim Allen once had his face in front of police cameras — facing serious allegations.

In 1978, Alen was arrested at the Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport in his home state of Michigan. He had more than a pound of cocaine in his luggage, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The charge ended with the 23-year-old serving more than two years in prison.

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"We were a bunch of college kids — a bunch of the kids who overdid it," Allen said in an interview on “WTF with Marc Maron,” and reported by Yahoo. "Two of us took [the punishment] for about 20 guys."

Allen admitted he didn’t think he would be sentenced to prison, but the judge gave him a stiff sentence, according to Yahoo.

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“I just shut up and did what I was told,” Allen told the podcast about prison, according to the Hollywood Reporter. “It was the first time ever I did what I was told and played the game. I learned literally how to live day by day. And I learned how to shut up. You definitely want to learn how to shut up.”


Allen was released from prison in 1981 and returned to stand-up comedy. A decade later, Allen became the star of the hit show “Home Improvement.”

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tim allen
Source: MEGA

He also became the voice of Buzz Lightyear in the “Toy Story” franchise and appeared in various movies.

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In 1994, he became Santa Claus in the movie by the same title. In the film, Allen goes from traditional working stiff to the man who brings toys and joy to children around the world.

However, he ran afoul of the law again in 1998 when he was busted for drunk driving.

Allen said he has been sober since that arrest, for which he was sentenced to probation.

In 2002 and 2006, Allen reprised his role as Santa Claus in sequels to his popular movie. It’s a film role, and a career, he is lucky that didn’t end with his felony drug arrest decades earlier.


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