Alfalfa Was Everyone’s Favorite Little Rascal In The ’90s – But His Life Looks Very Different Today

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Little Rascals fans will undoubtedly remember Bug Hall for his portrayal of Alfalfa in the classic 1990s film. However, it’s been over a quarter of a century since the youngster and his gang hit the big screen, and that means Hall definitely isn’t so little anymore. He’s practically unrecognizable from the kid who romanced Darla, in fact, and in 2020 he would hit the headlines for a rather unsavory reason.

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That Little Rascals movie was of course a more up-to-date reimagining of the iconic Our Gang series, which started off as a selection of film shorts in the 1920s. And over the two decades that followed, Alfalfa, Spanky and their buddies appeared in more than 200 adventures – including a feature-length flick in 1936.

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Back then, the man behind the Our Gang shorts was the American director and producer Hal Roach, who is perhaps best known for his work with the comedy duo Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. Fatefully, though, the filmmaker decided to turn his lens on a cast of kids who would later become known as “The Little Rascals.”

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As fans know, the Our Gang shorts followed the often comedic exploits of a group of children from a less well-to-do neighborhood. These films were notable not only for portraying children behaving relatively normally, but for showing characters of different races treating one another equally.

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Then, after the original series was brought to an end in 1944, the films enjoyed television reruns from the 1950s to the 1980s under the name The Little Rascals. Yet while there were also efforts to get new versions of the shows off the ground, these all failed to replicate the success of the original movies.

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So, when director Penelope Spheeris got behind a Little Rascals remake for the big screen, some were skeptical. For example, Variety suggested that while the touted movie may be popular among parents who, as children, had enjoyed reruns of the originals on TV, a modernized version may not have that wide an audience.

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Nevertheless, Spheeris had already had some experience of reviving former TV classics. In 1993, you see, the filmmaker had turned The Beverly Hillbillies – a popular sitcom from the 1960s – into a feature-length film. She’d also enjoyed success with her 1992 movie Wayne’s World, which had been inspired by a Saturday Night Live skit.

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With all this in mind, Spheeris looked like the ideal choice to reboot The Little Rascals for the big screen. Deciding to stay true to the original series, she included familiar characters such as Alfalfa and Darla in the line-up. It even seemed as though the movie’s casting department had gone to extra lengths to ensure that the new actors looked like their predecessors.

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And at the heart of the Little Rascals movie remake was a love story. Alfalfa – played by Bug Hall – breaks the rules of his all-boys club by bringing his crush Darla – portrayed by Brittany Ashton Holmes – into the fold. Then, as chaos ensues, the He-Man Womun Haters clubhouse is destroyed.

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In order to rebuild their meeting place, the gang therefore come up with a number of ploys to raise money. As the kids attempt to gather the $350 they require, however, Darla’s head is turned by Waldo – a wealthy boy played by Blake McIver Ewing – leaving Alfalfa to compete for her attention.

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And while the Little Rascals movie featured some memorable adult cameos – including turns from Whoopi Goldberg and Donald Trump – it was arguably the young cast that stole the show. The film seemed to resonate with a whole new generation, too, who seemingly fell in love with the group of kids.

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However, when the 25th anniversary of the movie came around in 2019, some may have wondered what had happened to the cast members in the intervening years. Well, for a start, the child actors who had portrayed the famous Our Gang characters were now very much into adulthood.

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Bug Hall – the actor who had brought Alfalfa to life – was virtually in his thirties, for example. Hall had entered the world in 1985 with the first name of Brandon; as a youngster, though, he began to be called “Bug,” and the moniker stuck.

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What’s more, The Little Rascals was Hall’s first film role. And it proved to be a pretty good starting point for the budding actor, as he and his co-stars would ultimately go on to scoop a Young Artist Award for the Best Performance by a Youth Ensemble in a Motion Picture.

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Hall’s turn as Alfalfa also led to a steady stream of parts throughout the 1990s, with the fledgling star appearing in movies such as The Big Green, The Stupids and Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves during that decade. He branched out into voice work, too, by portraying a character in Disney’s 1997 animated movie Hercules.

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And Hall continued to show up on screen in the 2000s, landing a starring role alongside Lindsay Lohan in Disney Channel movie Get a Clue and bit parts in popular teen dramas Charmed, The O.C. and 90210. Audiences may also have seen the actor in CSI: Miami, Justice and Criminal Minds.

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Then, in 2016, Hall appeared as Arthur Davidson in the Discovery Channel mini-series Harley and the Davidsons. The show tells the real-life story of how William Harley and brothers Arthur, Walter and William Davidson came to found the famous motorcycle company in the early 20th century.

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And in a 2016 interview with People to promote Harley and the Davidsons, Hall revealed that landing a part on the show was “a dream come true” – not least because he’d been a motorcycle enthusiast from the age of 14. Bagging the gig had, he added, also “brought [him] out of a mini-retirement.”

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Hall explained his love of bikes during his chat with People, saying, “I didn’t ever drive a car until a few years ago. I’ve owned about 16 motorcycles over the years and totaled 12 of them… I’ve spent my entire life on a motorcycle. This project is kind of the cap of my riding.”

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Seemingly as part of the promotional efforts for Harley and the Davidsons, Hall also popped up on Reddit, where he conducted a kind of unofficial Q&A session with fans. Introducing himself on the site, the star wrote, “I am Bug Hall, formerly known as Alfalfa and currently on Harley and the Davidsons on Discovery!”

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Reddit users wasted no time, either, in asking Hall about his experiences as an actor. Yet while he may have been eager to discuss his new role on Harley and the Davidsons, many questions were actually about The Little Rascals. In particular, people wanted to know what it had been like to make the cult classic.

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And when Hall was asked for his favorite recollection of working on The Little Rascals, his answer didn’t disappoint. He told fans of the film, “All the stuff at the clubhouse was a blast. They actually built the thing on a hill overlooking the Dodger Stadium. As a kid, it seemed so grand and magical.”

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In response to another query, Hall enthused about Spheeris. He said, “Penelope is a genius director. I was pretty spoiled as an actor to get to work with her on my first project.” Referring to another of her films, Hall added, “Wayne’s World is one of my all-time favs!”

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Elsewhere, one Redditor was curious to know whether sparks had flown in real life between Hall and his Little Rascals colleague Brittany Ashton Holmes – who was four years his junior. However, the star replied, “We never had any kind of crush going on. The age gap was really big at that age. Just a couple [of] years seems like a lifetime when you’re young.”

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Another fan on Reddit wanted to know if Hall was still in touch with any of his The Little Rascals castmates. To this, he responded, “The kid who played Porky (Zac) is one of my best friends. He’ll be a groomsman in my upcoming wedding. We get recognized more when we’re together, but I’m usually rocking a big beard, so it’s not common anymore.”

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Hall was referring to Zachary Mabry, who had celebrated his fourth birthday on the Little Rascals set but had turned his back on acting after the film had wrapped. To this day, in fact, the movie provides his only credit on IMDb. Nowadays, Mabry resides in Dallas, Texas, where he holds down a regular job as an accountant.

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Like his friend and former co-star Hall, Mabry is a member of the Catholic Church, and alongside his day job, he contributes to London-based religious newspaper the Catholic Herald. Mabry also presents The Roman Circus Podcast, which focuses on the history and heritage of Catholicism.

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And Mabry isn’t the only former Little Rascal to have retired from acting in the years since the film’s release. After a handful of further screen performances, Holmes too quit acting and is now married and residing in LA. Apparently, she’s also now studying for a political science degree.

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Travis Tedford – who portrayed He-Man Womun Haters Club president Spanky – has similarly continued to work in the film industry since The Little Rascals, racking up credits in Recess and A Bug’s Life among other productions. He has also reportedly found employment in the marketing sector and is said to currently live in Texas.

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Hall is still acting, too, starring in the films North Blvd and The Shadow People after Harley and the Davidsons. At present, he is also set to appear in upcoming comedy This Is the Year and independent drama The Long Run.

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And while Hall’s career was progressing nicely, he was also moving forward in his personal life, as in 2017 the dad of two tied the knot with Jill DeGroff. Announcing the good news on his Instagram page, Hall shared some photographs from the big day alongside a caption that simply stated, “I will.”

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Prior to his wedding, Hall had gushed about his future wife in another Instagram post from 2017. There, he wrote of DeGroff, “I have never felt so much good in my life as when I’m with this woman [who] is soon to be my bride.” The actor added, “I have also never been a better man than the one I am with her.”

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So, it’s fair to say that Hall has come a long way since starring as Alfalfa in The Little Rascals. More to the point, as photographs from recent years show, he is barely recognizable as the lovesick youngster he once portrayed on the silver screen. Gone are his freckles and middle-parted hair; in their place are a coiffured mane and distinctive good looks.

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But Hall’s dashing transformation hasn’t been the only source of shock for his fans in recent years. In June 2020, you see, it emerged that the actor had been arrested in Texas for allegedly sniffing cans of air duster. Apparently, he’d been detained by cops after being found with the canisters in his hotel room.

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Hall was 35 years of age at the time of his apprehension by the Weatherford Police Department, and the charge subsequently railed against him was reportedly “misdemeanor possession for use to inhale or ingest a volatile chemical.” According to a police report acquired by People magazine, the star had been spotted “near the dumpster huffing.”

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The person who’d allegedly seen Hall acting strangely is said to have phoned the cops in the fear that the former child actor could have overdosed. Then, when officers arrived on the scene, they supposedly found Hall in his hotel room surrounded by air duster canisters.

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Air dusters are used to clean electronic devices that cannot be washed with water, such as computer keyboards. As website The Recovery Village claims, however, the compressed gases within the canisters can cause a brief high when inhaled. And while this sensation can be similar to the effects of alcohol intoxication, it can also be very dangerous.

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Indeed, prolonged inhalant abuse can cause serious and sometimes permanent damage to the major organs. Huffing the contents of air dusters can also cause cardiac arrest which, of course, may ultimately prove fatal. All in all, then, the activity can be extremely risky.

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But as TMZ has reported, Hall apparently didn’t resist when police turned up to check on him at his hotel on the evening of June 20, 2020. The star is also said to have conceded to inhaling from the air dusters and was taken to Parker County Jail, where he was booked and had mugshots taken. And in the images, Hall looked even further from Alfalfa than ever before.

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Reports have suggested that Hall’s bond was fixed at $1,500, which he is claimed to have settled the day after he was arrested. When he was approached by People to comment on the allegations, however, the actor didn’t respond. And so while it’s still unclear what really went on at that Texas hotel, the news may very well have come as a worry to fans of The Little Rascals – as well as those of Hall himself.

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Taran Noah Smith is another former child star to have seemingly experienced the dark side of fame in recent years. Yes, just like Hall, he’s fallen on the wrong side of the law – although, thankfully, he’s still around to tell the tale. So, what exactly has happened to Smith in the years since he first appeared on TV?

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Smith appeared, of course, as Mark Taylor on ABC’s Home Improvement for its entire, massively successful eight-season run. When the TV comedy series ended in 1999, however, the young star decided that he had no desire to continue acting – and walked away from showbiz altogether. Yet despite this move, his turbulent private life would still be splashed across tabloid headlines for many years after he’d left our screens.

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Home Improvement was, of course, the show that made comedian Tim Allen a household name. It was one of the most-watched sitcoms of the 1990s, in fact, and even launched the career of future Baywatch sex symbol Pamela Anderson. The three young actors who played Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor’s sons Brad, Randy and Mark – Zachery Ty Bryan, Jonathan Taylor Thomas and Taran Noah Smith, respectively – were also catapulted to stardom.

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The three boys in the show had very distinct personalities. Brad, for instance, was a popular jock who wasn’t very bright and always wound up in trouble. Middle brother Randy was the intelligent one – but he was also a quick-witted know-all. And as played by Smith, Mark was more sensitive than his older brothers and was regularly teased by them.

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Over the course of the eight seasons, though, Mark grew from a wide-eyed six-year-old into a teenager who – in the show’s seventh series – adopted a gothic look due to feeling like an outcast. The character also shared his closest familial bond with his mother, Jill (portrayed by Patricia Richardson). In the last season, however, he did manage to bond with oldest brother Brad, when Randy left the family home for Costa Rica.

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Understandably, then, the part of Mark Taylor was Smith’s first substantial screen role. But Smith had actually been modeling from his infancy. In a 2016 interview with website Headlines & Global News, his mother, Candy Bennici, revealed, “At six months old, he was in a crib with a matching outfit and sheets – and that was his first job.”

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Smith had actually got started because his older sister, then seven years old, had also been working in the modeling industry. And when Smith had been brought along by his mother to a talent agency meeting, the agent had told Bennici that there was work available for her baby too. These baby modeling gigs eventually led to him acting in some television commercials.

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Bennici said that both of her children would only be booked for a small number of jobs – usually no more than four – per year. But when Smith acted in an Enterprise car rental commercial, things really took off. Based on this job, in fact, Bennici got him a Screen Actors Guild card. This made him part of the labor union for working film and television actors.

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When Smith and his family first went out to Los Angeles looking for acting work, then, they were reportedly very naïve about the business. Happily, however, the family inadvertently arrived at the best time possible for an actor: “pilot season.” This is the four-month period between January and April in which television networks produce 70-100 “pilot episodes” of prospective new shows.

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In the same interview with Headlines & Global News, Smith said his family hadn’t even been aware of the existence of pilot season before this. Smith also remarked on how lucky they’d got – considering that Home Improvement had only been his third audition. Thankfully, too, the second audition that Smith had was for a show that had wound up being cancelled after one season. He therefore felt lucky not to have been chosen for that role.

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Still, it sounds like the ultimate dream for many actors. Smith, after all, landed a main role in a series that became a television institution – and he did it on only his third audition. However, as Bennici later told the Marin Independent Journal, “You go in so naïve.” So she signed her young son to a seven-year contract. Yet she later admitted, “I had no idea what that contract meant.”

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Smith has, however, always talked about his time on the show in very positive terms. Regarding his experience of spending his childhood years on the Disney Studios lot in Burbank, California, he said, “I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I had a wonderful time.” So it seems that the problems truly manifested themselves only once the show had ended.

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In fact, Bennici said that Smith “had the hardest time” when the show was no longer part of his life. He was, after all, suddenly torn away from his high-profile job and all the relationships that he’d forged. Crucially, Bennici believed, Smith struggled because the show had been all he’d ever known – as both an actor and a person.

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“The adults and the other kids had a life before the show,” Bennici lamented to the Marin Independent Journal. “But his whole life as he knew it was suddenly gone overnight. They take your ID card, and you can’t go on the lot any more.” So Smith went from being one of the stars of a beloved TV show to a 16-year-old who was unsure where his future lay.

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While Home Improvement was still on the air, though, Smith did a guest spot on 7th Heaven and appeared in a TV movie entitled Ebbie. He then lent his voice to an episode of Batman Beyond in 1999 – but quit acting soon after. He told Headlines & Global News, “By the time I was 16 or 17, I just wanted to do other things.”

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He continued, “I really enjoy working with my hands and working with tools and having something physical to look at and say that I built at the end of the day.” It seemed that acting simply wasn’t what made Smith happy any more, and he wanted to find out what would put a smile on his face. Sadly, though, hard times lay just around the corner for Smith and his family.

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Smith initially believed that perhaps he could be happy working in a different area of the film/television business. He therefore attended the film school at the University Of Southern California to study directing. And there he met vegan chef Heidi Van Pelt – who hosted dinner parties for Hollywood clients in her home – and the two became an item.

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However, Smith was reluctant to tell his parents about his relationship with Van Pelt – and with good reason. “She was 15 years older than me,” he said in 2015, while taking part in the Marin Independent Journal interview promoting his mother’s film industry guidebook for parents, Stardom Happens: Nurturing Your Child In The Entertainment Business.

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Smith admitted, “I knew my parents would not be excited by that, so I told them she was nine years older, the same distance as my parents in age.” But even though he tried hard to keep the true age difference a secret, his parents eventually found out. “That’s when they tried to push her out of my life,” he said.

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At this point, however, Smith was a teenager who had fallen head over heels in love. So he was never going to listen to his parents’ objections – and even wound up leaving his university course. The star then ran away to be with Van Pelt and would only have contact with his family again when he sued them, at age 17, for access to his $1.5 million trust fund.

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He and Van Pelt hired a lawyer too. The lawyer then drafted a written statement that said the couple were married. The pair evidently thought this would help their case as they tried to persuade a judge to declare Smith an emancipated minor – or someone free from his parent’s control. That way, they seemingly thought, Smith could access his trust fund a year early, instead of waiting until he turned 18.

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Smith even accused his parents of mismanaging his money by living off it – instead of leaving it untouched in the trust fund. In the 2015 interview with mother and son, Bennici revealed that she took great offense at this accusation. “Of course, we didn’t touch his money,” she said.

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She continued, “It was in a trust fund. We couldn’t have touched it if we wanted to.” Bennici also maintained that her son and his much older partner were simply trying to get at his money too early. She said, “We were trying to protect it. Luckily, the Marin courts were very good about it and didn’t give it to them.”

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The Marin Independent Journal also contacted Van Pelt, who now owns vegan restaurant Fud in her hometown of Kansas City, to get her side of the story. She was adamant that she had never received any of the trust fund money. “There was no usurping of anyone’s money. I’ve always had my own thing and my own strengths. I don’t rely on others.”

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She did reveal, however, that it had been her idea to fabricate their marriage in the legal affidavit. She said, you see, that Smith had been worried that his parents would try to get him arrested for running away while he was still a minor. She revealed, “He didn’t have a job and was running out of money. The only way he could get money was to try to access his trust fund.”

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Smith did eventually gain access to his trust fund when he turned 18. He later told Headlines & Global News, “Shortly after that, we started to talk and be more of a family.” He now believes that what he went through with his family had been common “teenage-angst-driven strife” that had been exacerbated by his fame and the media cycle.

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Yet in 2001 – while still 17 – Smith controversially married Van Pelt in a secret ceremony. Then, in 2005, the couple founded a vegan dairy products company named PlayFood. They ran the business from their home in Sherman Oaks in the suburbs of Los Angeles. This, however, was against regulations, and the authorities shut the company down.

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And as if this weren’t bad enough, Smith said, he then started to have doubts about the relationship. “I was with Heidi for five or six years,” he told the Marin Independent Journal. “At the end of that, I realized I had made a mistake.” Ironically, he said, this period was actually when his parents were finally ready to accept Van Pelt as part of their family.

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There would be no need for this acceptance, though, as Smith told his parents that he and Van Pelt had broken up. They filed for divorce in February 2007. Smith later said that he apologized to his parents for his “teenage phase” and that “they were very forgiving and apologized too.”

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The Sherman Oaks house, out of which Smith and Van Pelt had run PlayFood, was listed on the market in 2007 as well. But it soon became infamous due to a TMZ exposé that detailed the apparently dilapidated condition in which Smith and Van Pelt had left it. The house was put up for sale with no photographs, in fact, and the listing even admitted that it was “the worst house in a prime location.”

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TMZ posted a video that detailed the levels of damage that had apparently been inflicted upon the interior of the house. In the clip, graffiti and other bizarre pieces of hand drawn “art” were shown to be covering the walls, several of which had large holes in them. Cupboard doors hung off their hinges; it was a sorry sight to behold.

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On one wall, which was practically falling apart, someone had scrawled the words, “Please view this lesson in finality. Thank you.” Smith’s lawyer spoke to TMZ at the time and tried to deflect blame from him by saying, “You can thank his gold-digging ex-wife for the debacle he’s in.” So there can be no mistaking that the lawyer was implying that Van Pelt was responsible for the damage.

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In a 2007 interview with the National Enquirer, however, Smith felt others were to blame for the destruction. He said, “Squatters have been living there. I have a lot of artist friends, and they spray-painted the walls.” In any case, Smith would spend the next several years in court – battling with his ex-wife for control of PlayFood.

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And Smith’s name would again be plastered across the headlines in 2012 when he was arrested for driving under the influence as well as drug possession. He was stopped around 1:00 a.m. on January 30 in Los Angeles County, and police believed he had been taking marijuana. He also allegedly had hashish in his car.

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Thankfully, despite this arrest, it does seem like Smith has gotten his life back on track in recent years. He told Headlines & Global News in 2016, for instance, that he had been working as an installation artist at museums and art festivals. Prior to that he had apparently spent much of 2014 providing disaster relief in the Philippines while working for charity Communitere.

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Smith said he had helped build a resource center that houses tools to enable the locals to rebuild their lives. The star said the organization provided “everything from sledgehammers to a 3-D printer and a laser cutter.” He added, “My official title was Maker Space Maker because my job was to set up the shop and create the system that made everything go.”

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He also started his own on-the-water art display space, The FairWeather Gallery. He saw this as his way of uniting the passions of his parents in a project that he could call his own. He said in the 2016 interview, “My dad is a boat builder, and my mom studied art history and is much more of an artist, so I’m combining the two in my life.”

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And Smith seemed to be indulging his father’s side of his heritage when his name hit the headlines again in July 2019. At that time, you see, a submarine docked at Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey Bay, California, and locals had no idea where it had come from, what its purpose was or who owned it. In the end, though, TV channel Action News 8 discovered that Smith was the owner of the sub.

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“No, we are not smuggling drugs, we are not attacking the U.S., we are just all Californians having a good time,” Smith told the SFGate website. Smith elaborated by saying the vessel had been manufactured for the Swedish Navy, and he had purchased it in Florida. He was now supposedly teaching trainees how to pilot the sub.

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Smith said he was working with the company Community Submersibles to instruct students on how to dive down to 600 feet beneath the waves. The star said that learning to pilot a submarine seemed perfectly natural to him. After all, he had been born on a boat and raised with the ocean as a major part of his life.

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Acting, then, is still not on the horizon for Smith. When Smith reunited with the cast of Home Improvement for an Entertainment Weekly magazine photoshoot in 2011, in fact, he said had no plans to return to performing. “I’ve moved on to do other things with my life,” he told the Marin Independent Journal. He said he also fully supported his mother’s efforts to help other showbiz parents and their children to navigate the business “in a safer manner.”

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