Man of the house: Who's the Boss?'s Danza

Question: Did Tony and Angela ever get married on Who's the Boss?


Answer: That's entirely up to you, Mar, since the show never really said either way. When last we saw ad exec Angela Bower (Phenom's Judith Light) and her former housekeeper, Tony Micelli (Taxi and Family Law's Tony Danza), they were giving their relationship another shot after an incredibly long flirtation and at least one failed attempt. (Angela had moved to Iowa with ex-St. Louis Cardinals second-baseman Tony when he got a job coaching baseball, but had then moved back after jonesing for her old career.) If you're an optimist and old-fashioned romantic, then sure — consider them married.

Of course Danza wasn't one to settle down easily in real life, either, especially during the time the hit ABC sitcom was on the air (1984 to 1992). In addition to landing himself in the tabloids with his romantic and nightlife exploits — one night's work got him convicted for assault after a run-in with a restaurant security guard — Danza tried to play the field careerwise, too. After Taxi left the air in 1983, the actor again tried his hands at professional boxing, which is what he was doing before landing the role of cabbie Tony Banta. Fortunately for him (or unfortunately, when he was absorbing punches), TV worked out better than the ring.

"I still think boxing is where I had the most natural ability. But other fighters were working at it full time and I wasn't," Danza told TV Guide in 1984. "And I started getting conscious of getting hit. You're out there saying, 'I hope this guy doesn't hit me in the nose' — which is agony, by the way. You risk your life in that ring, no kiddin'."

Which is why the screen has certainly been kinder to him than the sweet science ever was, despite the actor's fond memories. "To this day, though, I remember moments," he said. "I never had a great fight, or even a great round, but I had great moments — when you'd throw a perfect left-right-left — and the crowd would gasp. Whewwww. Ecstasy."

Perhaps, but I'm sure the happiness of a high-paying job on TV ain't chopped liver. And I've got to give Danza credit for that. He was never a great TV actor, either. But he ran with it and, to succumb to the temptation of a Rocky analogy, has gone the distance in his career. There are plenty of performers with 10 times the talent whose careers flamed out after maybe one good show. So Who's the Boss? wasn't a great comedy. Truth be told, it was really a pretty awful comedy. However, you can't argue with its successful run: At its strongest, the show was a regular Top 10 Nielsen performer.

Why? Damned if I know, to be perfectly honest. People like cuddly, feel-good shows. And while I've never been a Danza fan (though I did think he was funny in Taxi and Friends' Matt LeBlanc certainly must've been paying attention — ever notice how much Joey Tribbiani is channeling Tony Banta?), I have to admit he's got something the audience likes. TV Guide reviewer Don Merrill summed it up nicely in 1985: "Danza is to acting what grits are to haute cuisine, but he manages to radiate warmth as efficiently — and about as subtly — as a blast furnace."

And I have to give Danza his props for continuing to work at it. I've never seen the man on stage in the plays he's done, but it's not exactly lightweight work (he appeared on Broadway with Kevin Spacey in the 1999 production of The Iceman Cometh and also performed in 12 Angry Men and A View from the Bridge). He earned some solid reviews for those portrayals and even his cabaret show, which at first seemed like more Danza-bashing fodder, generated a "not bad" from The New York Times, which said his enthusiasm held it together.

All of which speaks to getting out there and trying, no matter who's laughing at you. TV, Broadway, a job hosting the Miss America pageant and a current syndicated talk show? Not bad for a run-of-the-mill boxer from Brooklyn.