Happy 65th birthday to Tony Danza, who's rather boss — whether or not he's the boss.
Dabbling in boxing before trading the ring for sound stages in the late '70s, Danza starred in not one but two popular '80s sitcoms ("Taxi" and "Who's the Boss," both on ABC). While "Taxi" was heralded for its ensemble cast, "Who's the Boss?" premiered with Danza as a headliner. And all that eventual co-star Alyssa Milano knew about it when she auditioned as an adolescent was that it starred the "cute guy from 'Taxi.'"
Airing from 1984 to 1992, "Who's the Boss?" began with Danza's Tony Micelli moving from Brooklyn with his daughter Samantha (Milano) to start a "brand new life" as a live-in housekeeper in the Connecticut home of divorced single mom Angela Bower (Judith Light), her son Jonathan (Danny Pintauro), and her mom Mona (Katherine Helmond).
During the show's eight-season run, Danza's co-stars shared ensuing hilarity, became household names of their own and stirred non-rhetorical debate over which character was, indeed, the boss. (No matter what Abed Nadir concluded on NBC's "Community," it was totally Mona. Did she not steal every scene? Milano, apparently, agrees.)
In honor of Danza's birthday, here's a look at the "Who's the Boss?" primary cast, then and now.
1. Tony Danza
Then: Danza made the most out of stretching out vowels (while referencing "Aaaangela" and "Samaaaaantha," in particular) as the former Major League Baseball player-turned-housekeeper Tony Micelli.
Now: Emmy-nominated for a guest role on "The Practice," Danza hosted a titular talk-show from 2004 to 2006. He's continued to bring his effervescent charms to film ("Don Jon"), Broadway ("The Producers") and TV — most recently tap-dancing up a storm on the critically acclaimed Comedy Central series "Broad City."
2. Judith Light
Then: As Angela, the buttoned-up professional and Tony's de facto boss in the pilot episode, Light played the straight woman to counterbalance Tony's playful and unorthodox behavior. Along the way, their chemistry fueled musings of "Will they or won't they?"
Now: Winning Tony Awards in 2012 and 2013 for her performances in productions of "Other Desert Cities" and "The Assembled Parties," Light, 67, also has been heralded for on-screen gravitas, recently as a cast member or recurring performer on Amazon's "Transparent," TNT's "Dallas" reboot, and ABC's "Ugly Betty."
3. Alyssa Milano
Then: Milano's Samantha went from a tomboyish chip off the old block to a blushing bride over the course of eight seasons. She also may have teased young Jonathan almost as much as Tony tweaked Angela.
Now: After memorable turns on Fox's "Melrose Place" and the WB's "Charmed," Milano, 43, recently starred on ABC's "Mistresses." She's also good at being herself — playing along on NBC's "Hollywood Game Night," and serving as a host of Lifetime's "Project Runway: All-Stars" and guest judge on Logo's "RuPaul's Drag Race."
4. Danny Pintauro
Then: Pintauro's Jonathan was the requisite cute kid, as was seemingly the requirement of all sitcoms of the era.
Now: Pintauro, 40, struggled to maintain his acting career after "Who's the Boss?" wrapped in 1992. In an Oprah Winfrey interview released in October, he announced he'd been HIV positive for 12 years, and has been heralded by fans for his candor and activism. "I paid enough attention to understand that [HIV] was 'off' a lot of people's radar," he later told The Huffington Post, "and that needed to change."
5. Katherine Helmond
Then: Helmond's Mona was as likely to be going on a date with a strapping gentleman as she was to deliver a saucy one-liner. If nothing else, Mona was the figurative boss in the categories that matter most.
Now: Just a few years after "Who's the Boss?" ended, Helmond's recurring stint on CBS' "Everybody Loves Raymond" earned her an Emmy nomination. Helmond, 86, has since lent her voice to both "Cars" films, and her entire self to guest roles on ABC Family's "Melissa & Joey," HBO's "True Blood" and NBC's "Harry's Law."
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