Bob Vila Is Honored With the Daytime Emmy Award for Lifetime Achievement
The legendary handyman along with the television show "This Old House" were recognized for their contributions to television. Bob reflects on his impressive career.
On June 18, the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences honored Bob Vila along with “This Old House” with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 49th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards. The longstanding home improvement show joins the ranks of “60 Minutes” and “Sesame Street” as being only the third television program to receive this special Emmy award.
“This Old House” was pioneer programming, paving the way for today’s plethora of home improvement television. Bob was a professional contractor in Massachusetts when he was approached with the chance to host. While there was nothing like it on television at the time, he figured it was at least a good opportunity to promote his work. Plus, Bob says, he appreciated that “there was credibility behind it.”
For a decade, he guided viewers through the process of building and remodeling real people’s houses and highlighted the skilled workers behind them. “We were the first show ever to help people figure out how a house was built and what was behind the plaster,” he says. “People responded to it, whether a lawyer in Manhattan or a suburbanite.”
It wasn’t just educational for the audience at home, one of Bob’s favorite parts was learning from the experts featured on the show. “It was kind of like being paid to go to school,” he says. “A learning experience we benefited from—we were all learning from the specialists that were brought in.”
Bob left “This Old House” in 1989, but continued creating credible, informational shows, including “Restore America” and “Home Again with Bob Vila.” “When I went off on my own it was still the same thing: bringing people on, researching the latest technology.”
While Bob is no longer surveying houses on TV, he is still involved with many home improvement projects. “I never stopped getting involved in home remodels.” He currently works with his son Chris renovating houses in Palm Beach, FL. And much like his former shows, he prioritizes old homes. “Most houses are from the 1940s and 1950s, and one we’re working on is from the early 1900s.”
He’s also actively involved with the Hispanic Society Museum & Library, the Finca Vigía Foundation (focused on restoring and preserving Ernest Hemingway’s house in Cuba), and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which Bob says is “the biggest honor of [his] career.” It’s important to him to be able to participate in projects that preserve architecture.
And as if the 76-year old handyman didn’t have enough to keep him busy, this summer he begins work on remodeling his New York City apartment.
The Emmys ceremony was live-streamed on June 18. You can rewatch it here.