Tony Danza is an American actor, perhaps best known for starring on some of television’s most beloved and long-running series, including Taxi (1978-1983) and Who’s the Boss (1984-1992).
Danza was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, to Anne (Cammisa), a bookkeeper, and Matty Iadanza, a garbageman. His mother was an Italian immigrant, and his father was also of Italian descent. He grew up in Malverne, Long Island. Danza received a wrestling scholarship to the University of Dubuque in Iowa, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in history education. Before finding a job teaching, he found himself earning a living as professional boxer, envisioning himself the next Rocky Graziano. Changing his name to “Dangerous” Tony Danza, he entered the New York Golden Gloves in 1975. Shortly afterward, on Aug. 13, 1976, he started his professional boxing career. Fighting as a middleweight, Danza became a crowd favorite for his walk-in slugging style. He compiled a record of 9-3 with nine knockout victories, seven in the first round.
It was during a gym workout that he was discovered for the part of Tony Banta on the ABC TV show Taxi (1978). Danza still had hopes of being a world champion and scored knockouts in 1978 and 1979 but, unable to secure a title shot, retired from boxing to dedicate himself totally to his acting career. Taxi was critically acclaimed, earning him a place in television history and making him a household name. He followed Taxi with a starring role in the classic ABC comedy series Who’s the Boss? (1984), which ran for eight seasons and broke all syndication records. He became known for his lovable sitcom personae.
Danza received an Emmy nomination for a guest-starring role in The Practice (1997) and acclaim for his performance in the Broadway revival of “The Iceman Cometh” by Eugene O’Neill. He also starred in the comedy series Hudson Street (1995) and The Tony Danza Show (1997), for which he was executive producer. His additional television credits include an acclaimed performance opposite George C. Scott and Jack Lemmon in the remake of the film classic 12 Angry Men (1997) and the television movies The Wonderful World of Disney: The Garbage Picking Field Goal Kicking Philadelphia Phenomenon (1998), The Wonderful World of Disney: Noah (1998), The Girl Gets Moe (1997), North Shore Fish (1997) and Deadly Whispers (1995).
Among his motion picture credits are Angels in the Outfield (1994), She’s Out of Control (1989), A Brooklyn State of Mind (1998), Glam (1997) and Illtown (1996). He also wrote, directed and starred in the short film Mamamia (1998).
Eventually Tony explored his love for the stage, and among his many stage credits is his exciting run on Broadway in Mel Brooks’s hit musical The Producers, playing Max Bialystock (2006-2007), and his reprise of the role in the Las Vegas production at Paris Las Vegas (2007).
For his theatrical debut in Wrong Turn at Lungfish (1993), he earned an Outer Critic’s Circle Award nomination. Other stage credits include the critically acclaimed The Iceman Cometh, opposite Kevin Spacey, Arthur Miller’s Tony Award-winning play A View from the Bridge, and I Remember You Most recently, Tony returned to the stage in the pre-Broadway run of the much buzzed about and highly acclaimed smash hit musical Honeymoon In Vegas, which he starred in at the Paper Mill Playhouse along with Tony Award nominee Rob McClure (Chaplin), and Brynn O’Malley (Annie). With music and lyrics by Tony Award winner, Jason Robert Brown (Parade, The Last Five Years), the musical is written by Andrew Bergman (Fletch, The Freshman, Blazing Saddles, Soap Dish, The In Laws) and based on his hit Castle Rock / New Line comedy of the same title. Both the show and Tony’s performance received amazing reviews, including a love letter from The New York Times, which compares Tony’s performance to “the cooler-than-cool spirit” of Frank Sinatra.
He garnered accolades performing in his song-and-dance stage show, which debuted in Atlantic City in 1995. He later took it on the road to major venues throughout the country, from Las Vegas to New York.
In 2013, Tony returned to the big-screen and received great buzz and fantastic reviews for his performance as Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character’s father in Gordon-Levitt’s much buzzed and acclaimed directorial debut, Don Jon. The film, which stars Gordon-Levitt, Danza, Julianne Moore, Brie Larson, and Scarlett Johansson, was was released in theaters in the fall of 2013.
In 2009-2010, Tony took on his most challenging role yet-teaching tenth-grade English at Philadelphia’s Northeast High School. His experience working as a real teacher was taped and aired on A&E last year in the form of the critically acclaimed seven-part documentary series, entitled Teach.
In September 2012, Crown Publishers (a division of Random House) released Tony’s book, I’d Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had: My Year as a Rookie Teacher at Northeast High, a much buzzed about and critically acclaimed reflection of his experience teaching for a year. The book premiered on the New York Times Best Sellers list at number 16 and stayed on the list for two months. The paperback edition hit bookstores in September of 2013. In 2010, AARP The Magazine, the definitive voice for 50+ Americans and the world’s largest-circulation magazine with more than 35 million readers, presented Tony with their Inspire Award. The Inspire Awards pay tribute to extraordinary people who inspire others to action through their innovative thinking, passion and perseverance. In December of 2012, Tony was amongst the iconic celebrities who participated in the Weinstein Company’s historic concert for Hurricane Sandy Relief at Madison Square Garden. He was featured in the documentary about the concert, released by the Weinstein Company in the fall of 2013, in which Tony reminds people of the forgotten motto of America, “E pluribus unum”, or “out of many one”, or as Tony’s father would say “we’re all in this together, pal”.
It’s with great belief in the spirit of that motto that Tony participates in many charity efforts. In April of 2013, USA Today honored Tony at their annual National Make A Difference Day Awards for his commitment to helping others through his numerous charity efforts.
Danza is married to his Tracy Robinson, and has three children.
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