Tony Danza biography
SynopsisTony Danza's first TV role was on the popular sitcom Taxi, a run that started in 1978. After the success of Taxi, Danza landed another lucrative sitcom in 1984, this time on Who's the Boss? The show was a ratings smash, lasting for eight seasons and making him a solid TV star. Since 1993, Danza has appeared in a handful of Broadway plays and has also starred in several films over the years.
Early LifeActor, director, producer. Born Anthony Iadanza on April 21, 1951, in Brooklyn, New York, as one of five siblings. Danza's father, Matty, was a sanitation worker. His mother, Anne, was an Italian immigrant who held a job as a bookkeeper. When Danza was 14, he and his family moved out of Brooklyn, instead relocating to the Long Island community of Malverne. Danza flourished academically and athletically on Long Island and, upon his 1969 graduation from high school, he attended the University of Dubuque on a wrestling scholarship.
Danza earned a bachelor's degree in history education upon his graduation from Dubuque in 1973. But he didn't originally picture himself as an educator; instead Danza pinned his hopes on a career as a professional boxer. Changing his name to "Dangerous" Tony Danza, he entered the New York Golden Gloves competition in 1975, where he made the lightweight semi-finals. Returning the next year, he advanced to the finals as a middleweight, but lost a key fight by a narrow decision, which cost him the title. After turning professional in August of 1976, Danza compiled a 12-3 record in the ring. Fighting as a middleweight, Danza was a crowd favorite for his slugging style.
Breakout RoleDanza's life changed in 1977, when he was discovered during a workout at his boxing gym by a television producer. The chance meeting led to Danza's first television role as ex-boxer Tony Banta on the popular sitcom Taxi, which he began portraying in 1978. More brawn than brains, Danza's character won viewers—and the affection of co-star Marilu Henner—with his heart of gold. In spite of his TV success, Danza still maintained hopes of becoming a world boxing champion. He scored knockouts in the ring during 1978 and 1979 but, unable to secure a title shot, he retired from boxing in May of 1979 and decided to dedicate himself completely to his acting career.
After the success of Taxi Danza landed another lucrative sitcom in 1984, this time as widowed housekeeper Tony Micelli on Who's the Boss?. The show was a ratings smash, lasting for eight seasons and making him a solid television star. After Who's the Boss? ended in 1994, Danza returned to TV the next year with the sitcom Hudson Street, but the venture struggled in the ratings. It was canceled after only one season. His next sitcom, The Tony Danza Show (1997) met a similar fate.
ComebackIn early 1998, however, Danza's television career began making a comeback. His appearances on the legal drama The Practice earned him an Emmy nomination. In 2000, he also began starring in another popular TV drama, Family Law. The show ended in 2003. The next year, Danza appeared on the daytime circuit in his own talk show also called The Tony Danza Show, which aired for two years. In 2010, he he developed his own reality show with A&E Networks about his attempt to enter the classroom as a full-time teacher . The show, Teach: Tony Danza, followed Danza in his first year as a 10th grade English instructor at Northeast High School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Danza has proven his range as an actor by also trying his hand at the stage. He made his theatrical debut in the 1993 production of Wrong Turn at Lungfish, for which he earned an Outer Critics Circle Award nomination. Additional stage credits include the Broadway revival of Arthur Miller's Tony Award-winning A View From the Bridge; Danza's solo cabaret show, which still continues to tour around the country; and a starring role as Max Bialystock in a 2006 Broadway production of The Producers, which continued until 2007.
Meanwhile, the actor has amassed a hefty film resume with starring roles in She's Out of Control (1988), Angels in the Outfield (1994), Illtown (1996), A Brooklyn State of Mind (1997), and Glam (1997). In addition, Danza stepped behind the camera to write, direct and star in the short film Mama Mia (1998), released his debut album The House I Live In (2003), and published a cookbook with his son called Don't Fill Up on the Antipasto: Tony Danza's Father-Son Cookbook (2008).
Danza was married to his college sweetheart, Rhonda Yeomen, in 1970. During their four-year marriage, the couple welcomed two sons. He remarried in 1986 to Tracy Robinson the couple had two daughters before their divorce in 2007.