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Danza Rolls in with the Punches, Shows 'Who's Boss' [ - ]
by jasonc_wtbr
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Author: Jack Hawn
Source: Los Angeles Times
Date | Issue: 09/19/1985 | NA p.F12
Topic: Tony Danza
Submitted by: mich_l81

Danza Rolls in with the Punches, Shows 'Who's Boss'

By Jack Hawn

Former boxer Tony Danza—7-2 as an amateur, 10-3 as a professional, and 0-1 in a New York courtroom—looked as if he had been overmatched.

Right forearm heavily bandaged, palms rubbed raw, and abrasions elsewhere on his anatomy, the co-star of ABC’s comedy series “Who’s the Boss?” explained his latest bruises.
“It was just a scooter,” he said, shrugging indifferently as he munched a burger the other day in his dressing room after rehearsing an episode that will launch the series’ second season Tuesday night. “The brakes locked and we fell.”

The words sounded almost apologetic, as if he suddenly realized he had just dumped a bucket of ice water on a potential headline.

Danza had taken a little spin with his 14-year-old son Marc Anthony, and even the boy suffered nothing worse than “a strawberry on his butt…like sliding home.”

Hardly a banner story, to be sure.

Last year, though, Danza really made news—when he was convicted of assaulting a guard in a New York restaurant and was sentenced to 250 hours of community service and three years’ probation.

“He’s suing me for $16 million,” Danza said, referring to the action taken by 36-year-old security guard William Sawyer of Manhattan. “It’s still in litigation.”

Admitting he was not completely sober at the time, Danza said the “fracas”—as he preferred to label the food-throwing incident—was “the worst thing that ever happened to me in my life…”

“I spent a couple of day in the old clink. Jail is baaaad! A guy comes by with religious pamphlets, you read them!”

The actor feared the judge might throw away the key and was so relieved when he didn’t, Danza couldn’t wait to start paying his debt to society—if not the $16 million sought by Sawyer.

Danza rented a New York apartment for two months this summer and logged time as the activities of a Jewish home and hospital for the aged in Harlem.

“I’ve put in 212 ½ hours,” he said, “and when they start counting half-hours, you know they’re counting.”

Apparently, Danza has enjoyed performing what he likes to think is “volunteer” service.

“I got ‘em bowling out of their wheelchairs…I put on the ‘Wizard of Oz,’ had a 92-year-old guy (Frank Zimmerman) playing the Wizard, and he could sing! I had David Letterman call him up one time.”

Danza also has conducted exercise and music classes, organized field trips and arranged for other entertainers to “help out—read, talk to them…Volunteer work turns out to be pretty cool.”

Now that he’s keeping ‘em laughing back on the set of “Boss,” Danza has put his New York “company” on temporary “hold” but plant to complete this 250-hour sentence soon.

“Now it’s tough,” he acknowledged, “but I’ll finish it, and hopefully they’ll terminate my probation. Probation is a drag. I though I would go to jail. I don’t want to mess up now.

“I really have learned a lesson. I will not be stupid again.”
Then he grinned boyishly, lifted his bushy brows and added, “That’s not to say I’m going to be boring.”

Clearly, Tony Danza—34, bachelor-father athlete, happy-go-lucky actor—is never boring, nor is his life.
Divorced for about a decade, the Brooklyn-raised ex-street fighter was given permanent custody of his son last year (he also has a daughter) and keeps busy playing dad—a role he seems to thoroughly enjoy.

Besides wild scooter rides, father and son apparently spend considerable time together in other activities. Danza even took the boy to the Marvelous Marvin Hagler-Tommy Hearns title match last April in Las Vegas. For the ex-middleweight, it was like going home.

As a boxer, Danza seemed to thrive on fury. He seldom took a backward step, winning all his pro bouts by knockout, and even today sometimes gets that “stupid urge” to fight again. He has, in fact, climbed in a rind more than once since hanging ‘em up…as a manager.

“I had him 3-0,” Danza said of his New York protégé, a young light-heavyweight named Mike (The Duke) Deluca. “After his third fight, I thought I really had the champion of the world.”
He didn’t; two matches later, Deluca quit.

In “Taxi,” Danza’s first TV series, the actor was cast as (surprise!) a cab driver-boxer who couldn’t win a fight. Off camera, however, he proved his writers wrong, winning two pro bouts between episodes.

“I thought I was going to be champion of the world and a great actor at the same time,” he recalled. “We all become better fighters when we stop.”

“I miss it—being in shape, the discipline, guys in the locker room. You couldn’t miss a bus. You’d run for two blocks and flag it down.”

Danza still runs in the mornings to stay trim and plays softball on weekends, thus lending a touch of reality to his character in “Boss,” ABC’s only first-year series that survived from last season. Eight other were canceled.

Danza, who credits the writers mainly for the series’ success—portrays Tony Micelli, an ex-baseball player who cooks and keeps house for career-oriented Angela Bower, an advertising agency president played by Judith Light.
Danza seems to be on a roll—as an actor, at any rate.

After the five-year run of “Taxi,” he made two TV movies—“Murder Can Hurt You” and “Single Bars and Single Women”—and now is back for Round 2 of “Boss.”

“Taxi” (which starred Judd Hirsch) was a great kickoff for my career,” he said. “What’s amazing his how much I’ve retained. I learned from the best. If I had retained this much from college (University of Dubuque), I’d be teaching school someplace.”
Retaining lines on the set was the problem at the moment, it seemed.

Stuck for one in rehearsing a motel scene in a two-part episode titled “It Happened One Summer,” Danza finally called for a cue. It came, and Danza laughed.

“I knew it wasn’t my line,” he said as Light picked it up.

At the director’s signal to break for lunch, Danza instead playfully broke for his blonde co-star, embracing her in a sexy display of mock passion.

“There’s something between me and Judith that seems to work,” he said later, flashing a smile. “I’ve got the easiest job in town.”