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The Transformation Of Debbe Dunning From Home Improvement To Now

When you're a cast member on one of the most successful television sitcoms of the 1990s, it's going to be hard for fans not to remember you. This is the case for Debbe Dunning, the model and actress who played "Tool Girl" Heidi on "Home Improvement" from Season 3 until the show's finale in 1999. Dunning landed her recurring role on the show after the original "Tool Girl" Lisa (Pamela Anderson) left to go to college.

Dunning had initially appeared on the show playing the different, one-off, role of Kiki Van Fursterwallenscheinlaw. The "va-va-voom" character was actually a "Tool Time" fan who asked Tim (Tim Allen) for an autograph on a night when he was challenged not to look at any other women. 

Before working alongside Allen, Dunning was hustling for a big break in Hollywood. The actress made guest appearances on hit shows like "Who's the Boss?," "Married... with Children," and "Baywatch," in addition to appearing in various commercials and music videos. Since "Home Improvement" ended, Dunning went on to focus not only on acting work but family life, charity, and her passions.

Dunning co-starred in some small-screen thrillers

Debbe Dunning's first part after "Home Improvement" ended was in the TV Movie "The Spiral Staircase," a remake of the 1946 film and adapted from the Ethel Lina White novel "Some Must Watch." The film premiered in 2000 on the Fox Family Channel and starred Nicollette Sheridan as a mute woman who fears a serial killer is preying upon women like her. Dunning played Danielle, one of the unlucky guests trapped in a mansion with the serial killer. Unfortunately, Dunning's character didn't live to see the end of the film.   

Dunning later followed up this role with a recurring part as Hope Lorca on the Soap Opera "Wicked Wicked Games," starring Tatum O'Neal as Blythe Hunter, a woman out for revenge against an ex-boyfriend who left her to marry another decades before. Unfortunately, Dunning's character was eventually killed by Blythe.

In both roles, Dunning's characters met their untimely ends, a fate that would be highly uncharacteristic for any character in any "Home Improvement" episode.

Debbe Dunning turned her passion for horses into a TV show

In 2017, Debbe Dunning starred in the RFD-TV original series "Debbe Dunning's Dude Ranch Roundup," a show centered around Dunning's passion for riding horses and touring dude ranches. In a 2017 interview with KTLA 5 Morning News, Dunning said the motivation for the show was sparked by her love for horses: "I've always loved horses. I've always loved the dude ranch experience." She said the opportunity came about when she was golfing with Patrick Gosch, the owner of RFD-TV, and he said he wanted to create a show with her. Dunning said her dream would be to explore all the dude ranches in the U.S. and highlight what makes each one unique. 

Dunning admitted that when she was still a cast member on "Home Improvement," she would use her breaks during shoots to ride horses. "I grew up in Burbank and there were horse properties all around me," she said. "I've always had a love for horses when I was filming Home Improvement I kept my horse across the street at the equestrian center. So between scene changes, I would usually have a good amount of time off to spend with my horse." 

Family and charity round out Dunning's life

When she's not acting or traveling to the nearest dude ranch, Debbe Dunning is spending time with her family, on the golf course, or doing charity work.

The actress was married to former Olympic volleyball player Steve Timmons until 2018. They have three children together. In a 2017 interview, Dunning said she played an active role in her children's lives, even though it could be tough at times. "I will tell you it is hard to juggle college, high school and elementary. I think I've been very successful as a mother because I am very strict and open with my children." She added: "I love being a mom. When I was on Home Improvement I was able to bring my daughter to work with me every day since she was 2 weeks old. I never missed a moment."

Dunning is also a fan of skiing and golfing and frequently appears at the John Starks Foundation Annual Golf tournament, which raises money to provide academic scholarships for college-bound students. She said in another interview that she always has time to help children: "Anytime I can put my time into something that benefits children in the community I will do it."