Taran Noah Smith was only seven years old when he was cast to play Mark, the youngest of the three Taylor boys, on the Tim Allen-led sitcom Home Improvement. If his name doesn’t sound familiar to you, don’t worry, you’re not alone. If you are familiar with Smith, then you just might be dating yourself, as he hasn’t been in the spotlight since Home Improvement ended it’s eight-season run in 1999.
Since many of the cast members of that iconic ABC comedy went on to appear in bigger and better things, it makes you wonder why we haven’t heard Smith’s name recently. Well, as it turns out, there is very good reason! Home Improvement was the last thing that Smith appeared in.
Join us as we check in with Smith to see what he’s been up to in the 23 years since Home Improvement went off the air. Well, actually, the series has been on the air for virtually all that time, with reruns constantly being aired in syndication, but you know what we mean!
Smith’s life has taken him in all sorts of unexpected directions since leaving Hollywood behind. For instance, in July 2022, he joined SpaceX as an integration technician. Before that, he founded a vegan restaurant and non-dairy cheese manufacturer with his wife in California.
Yes, little Mark is also grown up now, and honestly he seems to be doing just fine. But even so, his road to normality hasn’t always been an easy one. If you’re curious about where this all-but-forgotten former child star has been in the last couple of decades, keep watching.
Facts Verse Presents: Taran Noah Smith is Not the Same Kid from Home Improvement Anymore
Home Improvement Consumed Taran Noah Smith’s Childhood
Taran Noah Smith was born on April 8, 1984, in San Francisco, California. When he was 7, he was discovered by ABC talent scouts and was hired to play Mark Taylor on Home Improvement. In that series, he played the youngest of three boys to Tim and Jill Taylor, played respectively by Tim Allen and Patricia Richardson. His two older brothers were Brad, played by Zachary Ty Bryan, and Randy, played by Jonathan Taylor Thomas.
Home Improvement was a fairly popular weekly sitcom that ended up airing for eight seasons. Tim Taylor was the patriarch of his family. He was also a ‘man’s man’ who hosted a weekly DIY home improvement talk show called Tool Time. On that ‘show within a show’, Tim was accompanied by his co-host Al Borland, portrayed by Richard Kern.
While the majority of Home Improvement episodes centered around Allen and Richardson’s characters, over the course of the show’s eight-season run Taran Noah Smith as Mark had plenty to do. Early in the series, he was more or less background filler, but as we watched him mature before our eyes, more plotlines revolved around his ever-growing character.
While Taran has never come out and said his time on the sitcom was bad – in fact he’s been quoted as saying that he loved his time on the show – the problem was that despite his love for the series, he spent his entire childhood on the set. At the end of the day, he essentially grew up on the Disney lot.
Smith’s troubles began shortly after the series came to an end. His mom, Candy Bennici, told the Marin Independent Journal that after the series came to a close, she thought that he had the hardest time readjusting to a life post-Home Improvement. The adults and everyone else that had appeared on the show had a life before it had began, but Smith’s entire life and everything that he knew was suddenly gone virtually overnight. Candy went on to say that after a show like Home Improvement ends, the actors get their ID cards taken away, and they can no longer go back on the lot. Obviously, this abrupt change is going to have a profound effect on someone who essentially doesn’t know what ‘normal’ life looks like outside of the context of the TV show that they were on for as far back as they can remember.
Eight years on a television program can teach a person a lot of things. Especially if that person started appearing in it at the tender age of 7. For Smith, he was given the rare oppurtunity to see how many of the behind-the-scenes gears and mechanisms work that go into making a TV show. He was given a truly unique perspective that not many ever get the chance to experience.
It was for this reason that after the series came to a close, Smith decided that he wanted to take a stab at being a director. After all, he had pretty much grown up seeing and taking careful mental notes on how TV shows were made. He must have felt like he knew the process like the back of his hand at that point.
Things Got Ugly
After Home Improvement wrapped, Smith enrolled at the University of Southern California and entered the school’s prestigious film program. But as it turned out, Smith was biting off more than he could ever possibly chew. Instead of focusing his attention on his studies as he should have, he met a vegan chef named Heidi Van Pelt and proceeded to fall deeply in love with her. The two met at a dinner party that Van Pelt held at her home in Southern California, and it didn’t take long for sparks to fly.
While love shouldn’t be problematic, there was one glowing issue with Smith and Van Pelt’s relationship. She was a full 15 years older than he was. At the time that they began their relationship, Smith was 17, and Van Pelt was 33.
He knew that his parents weren’t going to approve of his new relationship, so he lied and told them that she was only nine years older than he was. That age gap, mind you, was the same as the distance between Smith’s parent’s ages. So, he figured by fudging the numbers a bit, he would be able to make this revelation a tad bit more palatable.
But of course, Smith’s parents eventually figured out that he was lying, and thats when they attempted to push her out of his life. But teenagers being teenagers, Smith wasn’t going to just sit back and let that happen. He was in love, and he wasn’t about to let his parents dictate who he could share his love with, no matter how much they disapproved of his choices. So, just like that, Smith made a choice and decided that he would rather drop out of school and be with the woman that would ultimately became his new wife.
Immediately Smith’s fans began to express their concerns over the situation. The age difference was one thing, but many believed that Van Pelt was actually trying to go after his money.
Smith ended up going to court to get emancipated. This would have allowed him to gain access to his $1.5 million trust fund a year before he would have otherwise. And since he ended up marrying Van Pelt, this ultimately meant that she would have been given access to these funds as well.
Things took an ugly turn when Smith accused his parents of living off the money that he had earned from his time on the ABC sitcom that made him a household name. In fact, he went as far as to accuse them of squandering his fortune.
This fight between Smith and his parents got real heated, but to this day, Candy Bennici denies taking any of Smith’s money. She claims that since it was placed in a trust fund, they wouldn’t even have been able to touch it even if they wanted to. The reason why they put up a fight in court when he was 17 wasn’t because they didn’t want him to have his money, rather, she claims that her and her husband were only trying to protect it, so Smith didn’t end up losing it to bad decisions.
In the end, the Marin courts didn’t end up granting Smith access to his money at that time, but that didn’t stop the accusations from flowing. That being said, Van Pelt denies that she was ever trying to go after Smith’s fortune. In one interview that she gave to the Marin Independent Journal, she said that she was never trying to usurp anyone’s money. She went on to say that she had always done her own thing on her own strengths and that she never has relied on others for help.
She further noted that she had her own way of generating income, but Smith didn’t have a job and was quickly running out of money. The only way that she and Smith thought that they could remedy this situation was by trying to access his trust fund as a means of survival.
After Smith turned 18, he finally gained access to his cash and was made a millionaire overnight. He then teamed up with his wife to form a company called Playfood in Kansas City. The company manufactured vegan non-dairy cheeses out of cashews. According to Chef Van Pelt, Smith decided to help her form the company after he received his trust fund money and that he went into things with “eyes wide open”.
Later on, Smith would realize that his eyes were perhaps a little too open, because after being together for six years, the two split. At that point, Smith says that he realized that he had made a pretty big mistake. Ironically, he says that it was at this time that his parents finally came around and were ready to forgive Van Pelt and welcome her into their family.
When they came to him and told him that their feelings on Van Pelt had had changed, that’s when he revealed that they had already broken up. Before this, Smith and his parents had already patched things up and were on good terms. Smith would later say that during the whole courtroom trust-fund debacle, he was just going through a teenage phase. Now that he was a bit older and wiser, he realized that his parents were never doing anything wrong and that they were in fact just trying to protect him. In the end, Smith ended up apologizing to his parents, and they forgave him and apologized as well.
He’s Moved On
Since breaking things off with Van Pelt, Smith has gone on to accomplish quite a bit in life. He’s never returned to acting, but it does seem as if he is actively chasing his passions.
In 2014, Smith volunteered doing disaster relief with a non-profit called Communitere in the Philippines. He has also worked as a technical manager for another organization called the Community Submersibles Project. In that role, he has taught people how to pilot submarines.
In 2015, Smith backed his mother’s book, Stardom Happens: Nurturing Your Child In The Entertainment Business.
In 2022, Smith joined Elon Musk’s Hawthorne, California-based aerospace company SpaceX as an integration technician.
Taran Noah Smith hasn’t stood in front of a film set camera since 1999. And while his life has had many twists and turns – ups and downs – since then, it seems as if he is finally gaining some stability while leaning into his talents. Growing up on the set of a hit television show must be incredibly disorientating, especially when said TV show comes to an end, but at least Smith seems to have found his place in life, even if things haven’t always played out how he expected them to.
Did you know that Taran Noah Smith quit acting after Home Improvement ended and that he is now working for SpaceX? Let us know in the comments. And as always, thanks for watching.