Arnold, Tom 1959-

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ARNOLD, Tom 1959-


Born March 6, 1959, in Ottumwa, IA; son of Jack and Linda (Collier) Arnold; stepson of Ruth Arnold; married Roseanne Barr (a comedian and actress), January 20, 1990 (divorced, 1994); married Julie Champnella (a hair stylist), July 22, 1995 (divorced, 1999); married Shelby Roos, 2001. Education: Attended Indian Hills Community College, Ottumwa, and University of Iowa.


Agent—Michael Gruber, William Morris Agency, 151 El Camino Dr., Beverly Hills, CA 90210-2775.


Comedian, writer, actor, and producer. Appeared in television commercials for Sprint and Web TV. Worked in meat-packing plant, 1977-80; stand-up comedian and employed in various odd jobs, 1982-88; writer, actor, and co-executive producer of television shows, including Rosanne, 1988-94, and Jackie Thomas Show, 1992-93. Has acted in and directed various HBO specials and appeared in numerous TV series and movies, 1993—; Best Damn Sports Show Period, Fox Sports Network, co-host, 2001—. Movie credits include supporting roles in Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare, True Lies, and Nine Months.


CableACE Award, National Cable Television Association, 1992, for Tom Arnold: The Naked Truth; Vanguard Award (with Roseanne Barr), GLAAD Media Awards, 1993.


How I Lost Five Pounds in Six Years: An Autobiography, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2002.


Propelled into the spotlight during his tempestuous marriage to—and very public divorce from—Roseanne Barr, Tom Arnold struggled to establish an independent identity with a number of movie appearances, including well-received co-starring roles opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger in True Lies and opposite Hugh Grant in Nine Months. A co-host of the hit cable show Best Damn Sports Show Period, Arnold has chronicled his development from a life of substance abuse and dead-end jobs to a successful show-business career in the memoir How I Lost Five Pounds in Six Years: An Autobiography. As Tacoma, Washington's News Tribune reporter Darrin Beene explained, "he got the inspiration for the book after watching the 'E! True Hollywood Story' about his stormy marriage to Barr and decided he didn't want his future children to think that's who he was."

The result is an "endearingly candid memoir—written as breezy correspondence to his wished-for child," in the words of a Publishers Weekly reviewer. His own childhood was a struggle in itself. Born the oldest of seven children to an alcoholic mother who abandoned the family when Arold was four years old, he had a difficult relationship with his stepmother, a proponent of corporal punishment. For solace, Arnold soon turned to drugs and alcohol, getting high regularly at the age of fourteen. After high school, he landed a rather miserable job at a Hormel meat-packing plant, where he sometimes had to shoot pigs in the head. He attended classes at the local community college, but without much hope that it would lead anywhere. Instead, he decided to attend the University of Iowa and hit on a novel way to raise the tuition. He enlisted friends to pledge a dollar a mile for him to walk twenty-five miles in 20-degree weather, in nothing but tennis shoes and a pair of boxer shorts. In addition to raising $2,500, Arnold got his first taste of the limelight. At the university, he saw some stand-up comics perform at a comedy showcase and decided that was the life for him.

Soon after, he moved to Minneapolis to do stand-up, taking odd jobs to stave off poverty. In 1983 he had the good fortune to open for up-and-comer Roseanne Barr, and the two developed a close friendship. Platonic at first, the friendship deepened into a romance when Barr divorced her husband in 1989. In addition to moral support, Arnold provided Barr with a number of jokes, and when Barr landed a new sitcom, she invited Arnold to come to Los Angeles as one of the writers. Before long, he was guest starring on the show as Arnie Thomas. The two had talked about marriage, but Barr had one condition first: Arnold had to go through a rehab program and kick his serious cocaine habit. He did so, and the two wed in January of 1990. Barr took Arnold's last name, and Arnold converted to Judaism. Arnold soon became co-executive producer of Roseanne, which was "heaven for Roseanne, hell for staffers fed up with his manic personality," according to Entertainment Weekly reporter Missy Schwartz. Barr also helped him garner his own series, the Jackie Thomas Show, which started well but soon tanked in the ratings.

The couple's exploits, such as mooning a World Series audience and a three-way "marriage" to Arnold's rumored mistress Kim Silva continually filled the tabloids. But despite all the controversy, Arnold and Barr seemed devoted to each other. Then "after she and he had grabbed five years of scandal-sheet headlines as a white-trash version of Taylor and Burton," in the words of Time magazine reporter Tom Elson, Barr grabbed even bigger headlines by filing for divorce, claiming physical and emotional abuse, and detailing her view of Arnold's deficiencies in numerous interviews. Not surprisingly, she also fired him from her show. Arnold denied the charges, but after another failed sitcom, Tom, he seemed destined for footnote status in the life of a true TV star.

Then came a lucky break in 1994, when director James Cameron cast him for a supporting role in True Lies, another mega-hit for Arnold Schwarzenegger. Arnold's memorable performance as the loud-mouthed best friend gave him newfound clout as a sought after "second banana," and he went on to garner good reviews for his performance in Nine Months. A few award-winning Home Box Office specials also cemented his comic reputation, and in 2001 he was tapped by the Fox Sports Network to fill one of five host spots on its Best Damn Sports Show Period, a mix of "guy talk," sports updates and interviews, and humorous stunts that turned into a surprising hit for the network. His private life underwent a similar transformation. After marrying and divorcing Julie Champnella, a college student he met shortly after divorcing Barr, Arnold married Shelby Ross, a political consultant he met at a Democratic Party Convention. Indeed, he credits Ross with a part of his success, saying she was the one who insisted he audition for the sports show job.

Discussing How I Lost Five Pounds in Six Years, Booklist reviewer Brendan Dowling concluded, "The affable and self-deprecating tone will certainly satisfy his current following." And according to a Kirkus Reviews contributor, "readers may be surprised to find that the practitioner of generally dopey comedy can write frisky humor."



Booklist, November 15, 2002, Brendan Dowling, review of How I Lost Five Pounds in Six Years, p. 557.

Entertainment Weekly, January 25, 2002, Missy Schwartz, "Trash of the Titans," p. 110.

Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 2002, review of How I Lost Five Pounds in Six Years, p. 1437.

News Tribune (Tacoma, WA), November 15, 2002, Darrin Beene, "Fanfare: Media Watch—Sixteen Months and Counting for Arnold on FSN."

Publishers Weekly, October 28, 2002, review of How I Lost Five Pounds in Six Years, p. 63.

Time, August 14, 1995, Tom Elson, "Second Banana on Top," p. 71.


Tom Arnold Web site, (November 17, 2003).*