A career in acting was farthest from the mind of Tony Danza when he was young—imagining himself instead as a boxing superstar who will be the next Rocky Graciano of the ring. Turning his dream into reality, he adopted the ring name “Dangerous Tony Danza” and joined the New York Golden Gloves in 1975. A year later, he began his professional boxing career in the middleweight division. Quickly becoming a crowd favorite for his slugging style, he earned a fight record of 9-3 with all nine wins via an impressive knockout, 7 of which occured in the first round.
In 1978 shortly after earning his college degree, he was discovered by a producer at a boxing gymnasium and was offered to do the part of a cab driver who was a part time boxer on the television show “Taxi.” His character role in the show was originally named Phil Banta, but was changed instead to his real nickname because the producers felt that he was yet too raw an actor that he might not respond to the name Phil—thus, giving birth to the character Tony Banta. Still consumed by his dream of becoming a boxing champion, Tony Danza continued to fight professionally during the initial seasons of “Taxi,” scoring knockout wins in 1978 and 1979. But frustrated by his inability to get a shot at a championship title, he finally decided to hang his gloves and concentrate on building his acting career.
Born as Anthony Salvatore Iadanza on 21 April 1951 in Brooklyn, New York, Tony Danza grew up in the Long Island community of Malverne where he attended Malverne High School. Graduating in 1969 with an almost perfect SAT score, he studied at the University of Dubuque under a wrestling scholarship and graduated four years later with a degree in history education.
Tony Danza is best known for his five year run in “Taxi” and his starring role in the 1984 TV show, “Who’s the Boss?” which aired for eight seasons and for which he received an Emmy nomination and four Golden Globe Awards. In 1997, he was again nominated for an Emmy award for a guest starring role in “The Practice” and was acclaimed for his performance in the Broadway revival of “The Ice Cometh” and for his performance in the TV remake of the film classic “Twelve Angry Men” opposite movie legends Jack Lemmon and George C. Scott. A year later, he won the People’s Choice Award for Favorite Male Performer for his role in the sitcom “The Tony Danza Show,” of which he was also the executive producer. Aside from his numerous TV and film credits, Tony continues to earn acclaim for his song and dance stage show which played in major venues in the United States.
A Republican who contributed to the campaign of President George W. Bush and a member of the Wednesday Morning Club, Tony Danza shares with the community his success by being actively involved in numerous charities such as the annual fund raising event of Chabad’s Telethon that supports the largest network of non-sectarian and educational social services.