He became famous, in part, by dressing like a PCV, as he was in Panama 1969-70.
He created on television “the handy-man-hero aesthetic. The rumpled, but somehow polished workman in a flannel shirt, jeans and work boots.” That uniform has come to be synonymous with home improvement television, with variations worn by current HGTV stars like Jonathan Scott of “Property Brothers” and Chip Gaines of “Fixer Upper.”
“He single-handedly shifted the narrative of an age-old trade,” said Chip Gaines in a long article in The New York Times RealEstate Section of the paper this Sunday, July 7, 2019, entitled This Old House’ Turns 40.
Bob Vila was the show’s original host in 1979 and was on the show until 1989. He next had his own show, “At Home with Bob Vila.” Since then he has made periodic cameos on the sitcom “Home Improvement.”
The Times article writes that to celebrate the longevity of “This Old House,” PBS recently turned an Upper West Side brownstone into a temporary set for an anniversary special that will air next month and bring Vila together for the first time with his successors, Kevin O’Connor, the show’s current host, and Steve Thomas, the host from 1989 to 2003, for a round-table discussion.
Today, Vila lives in Palm Beach, Florida, and occasionally on New York’s Upper East Side, and on Martha’ Vineyard. He has a website, BobVila.com.