Bob Vila

Bob Vila Biography

Television Host, Entrepreneur (1946–)
Bob Vila is a restoration expert known for such TV shows as This Old House and Bob Vila's Home Again.


Bob Vila was born in Miami, Florida on June 20, 1946, into a Cuban-American family. He attended the University of Florida and later did a stint in the Peace Corp building houses in Panama. When his remodeling business won a Better Homes and Gardens award, Vila was asked to sign on to a new home-restoration series called This Old House, premiering in 1979. The show was a hit, propelling Vila to screen stardom and winning several Emmys over its many years on TV. Over his career, Vila has starred in other similar shows and written a plethora of books, becoming America's go-to home restoration expert.

Early Years

Bob Vila was born in Miami, Florida on June 20, 1946, into a Cuban-American family. His father built the family home by hand, an act that certainly went on to affect Vila’s career path. Vila attended the University of Florida, where he earned a BA in journalism. Leaving Florida behind after graduation, Vila embarked on two years of travel, including a stint in the Peace Corps. Vila’s experience with the organization may have been the next piece in his career puzzle, as his time was spent building houses and strengthening communities in Panama.

'This Old House'

When he returned to the U.S., Vila enrolled at the Boston Architectural Center and eventually started his own residential remodeling business. After he won a Better Homes and Gardens award for his restoration of a Victorian Italianate home, Vila was asked to star in a home-renovation series. The show was This Old House, and it became a surprise hit after its premiere in 1979, eventually winning 17 Emmys over its various iterations. The show started a new trend in television, setting the stage for countless home-improvement series to come.

'Bob Vila's Home Again'

Vila left This Old House in 1989, and a year later he launched a new show, Bob Vila's Home Again, which was later renamed simply Bob Vila. At this point, Vila’s reputation as America’s go-to restoration expert was cemented, and his status led to random guest roles, including a cameo in the comedy Hot Shots! Part Deux (1993) and appearances as himself on "Tool Time," the fictional show within the 1990s sitcom Home Improvement.

Vila is also the author of several home-improvement/restoration books and has created a show for the web called Building Green. He is involved in charitable organizations, including Habitat for Humanity and the National Alliance to End Homelessness, and played a large role in the restoration of Ernest Hemingway’s Cuban house, which allowed Vila to visit his parents' homeland several times.

Bob Vila is married to Diana Barrett and has two daughters and a son.

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