In the early 1980s, Arnold moved to Minneapolis and started performing his act ‘Tom Arnold and the Fabulous Goldfish Revue’, at the local comedy clubs. During this time, he met the rising comedienne Roseanne Barr, and they both became mutual admirers and friends.
During the next few years, Arnold and Barr toured together. In 1988, Arnold won the ‘Minneapolis Comedy Competition’, and followed it up with a role in the HBO’s special show ‘The Roseanne Barr Show’.
In 1988, Barr convinced Arnold to move to Los Angeles and write for the sitcom ‘Roseanne’, in which Barr played the lead.
In 1990, Barr divorced her husband Bill Pentland, who was also the producer of ‘Roseanne’. This event proved crucial for Arnold both professionally and personally, as he not only married Barr the same year, but also became the show’s executive producer. He also featured in ‘Roseanne’ as a regular in a role which he wrote himself.
From 1990 to 1994, the couple attracted a lot of media attention with their bizarre antics. These included getting unusual tattoos, appearing in a photo shoot which showed them mud-wrestling at a beach in Malibu, appearing in gorilla suits on the cover of ‘Spy’ magazine and even proclaiming a three-way marriage with their assistant ‘Kim Silva’.
During this period, as ‘Roseanne’ continued its success, Arnold starred in two other sitcoms, ‘The Jackie Thomas Show’ and ‘Tom’. Both of them did not receive favourable responses and hence had to be soon cancelled.
In 1994, the couple’s marriage ended in a bitter divorce, which subsequently led to Arnold being fired from the show ‘Roseanne’.
The same year, he got a much-needed boost to his career when he played the role of a secret agent in the James Cameron movie ‘True Lies’, which also featured Arnold Schwarzenegger. His performance received good reception from both critics and audiences.
From 1994 to 1997, he had mixed fortunes with his films, in which he mostly played supporting roles. His films ‘Nine Months’ and ‘Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery’ were box-office hits, while ‘The Stupids’, ‘Big Bully’ and his own production ‘McHale’s Navy’ did not do well commercially, and were panned by the critics.
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In 1997, Arnold made his return to television with his own show titled ‘The Tom Show’. However, the show wasn’t successful and was cancelled after just one season.
In 2001, Arnold was chosen to co-host the comedy-sports show ‘The Best Damn Sports Show Period’ on ‘Fox Sports’. The show achieved commercial success and Arnold played its host for four years.
In 2003, he played a supporting role in the action movie ‘Cradle 2 the Grave’ starring Jet Li. The film, made with a budget of 25 million, was a success at the box office, collecting more than 56 million worldwide.
In 2004, he was a part of an ensemble cast for the comedy ‘Soul Plane’. The cast included Kevin Hart and rapper Snoop Dogg. Arnold played Elvis Hunkee, the head of a dysfunctional family.
He bagged his first leading role in a romantic movie in 2005 with ‘Happy Endings’. The same year, he, both wrote and played the lead in the comedy ‘The Kid & I’.
From 2007 to 2012, he played supporting roles in films like ‘The Great Buck Howard’, ‘Restitution’, ‘One Day’ and ‘Hit and Run’.
In 2008, Arnold was selected as the host of the CMT TV show ‘My Big Redneck Wedding’, which documents weddings with eccentric customs. The show is still running and is currently into its third season.
In his career, he has also done voice-overs in animated TV shows like ‘The Replacements’, ‘The Rosie and Buddy Show’ and ‘The Simpsons’ as well as for films like ‘Dennis the Menace in Cruise Control’, ‘Legend of Kung Fu Rabbit’ and ‘Beethoven's Christmas Adventure’.
Tom Arnold was one of the writers of the extremely successful and long-running comedy show ‘Roseanne’, which was the most watched TV show in the US from 1989 to 1990. In the later seasons of the show, Arnold also featured as an actor.
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In 1994, after Arnold’s career had seemingly stalled, he was cast alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger’ in James Cameron’s magnum opus ‘True Lies’, which was also the most expensive movie ever made at that time. Arnold’s role in the film was much acclaimed and loved.
From 2001 to 2004, he was chosen as one of the hosts of the sports-based comedy ‘The Best Damn Sports Show Period’ and featured as a regular for four years. He continued to make appearances in the show during its later seasons too.
Personal Life & Legacy
In 1990, he got married to the well-known comedienne ‘Roseanne Barr’, a much-publicised relationship that lasted for four years.
In 1995, he married hairstylist Julie Champnella and stayed with her in a lavish, Mediterranean-style home in ‘Beverly Hills’. The couple divorced after four years due to personal reasons.
In 2002, he married Shelby Roos, a political consultant. They were married for six years before getting divorced. Tom had to pay $15,000 every month for 25 months as a part of spousal support, but retained ownership of their home in Tarzana, California.
In the 2008 film ‘Gardens of the Night’, Arnold plays a paedophile, a role which led him to reveal his own sexual abuse by an older man in his childhood.
In 2009, he married home organizer Ashley Groussman in a ceremony in Maui, a US County in Hawaii. The best man was actor and comedian Dax Shepard. Four years later, the couple had a child, Jax Copeland Arnold.
He has been actively involved in charity work for various organizations such as ‘The Race to Erase MS’, ‘Best Buddies’, ‘The Kayne Eras Center’, ‘Promises Foundation’, ‘Carousel of Hope’, ‘The Hollenbeck Christmas Giveaway’, the ‘Leukaemia and Lymphoma Society’, ‘Special Olympics’, the USO, GLAAD etc.