Television shows in the ’80s featured numerous family sitcoms. Whilst most of these showcased traditional families, “Who’s the Boss” taught us that even the most unusual family situations can bring a house full of love and laughter.
Premiering in 1984, the show was groundbreaking for several reasons. Not only was a female the breadwinner and a male the housemaid, but Angela’s mother, Mona, wasn’t looking to settle down with one man any time soon.
The characters were relatable, hilarious and dramatic all at once, which made for a show that we loved to sit down and watch every Tuesday evening.
Let’s take a look at where the characters are now, the best bits from the show and some little-known secrets of the beloved ’80s show.
The “Who’s the Boss” gang showed viewers that an unexpected family can still be functional and loving.
It’s A Brand New Life
This irregular family stole the attention of American audiences back in the ’80s. The roles were reversed as Tony, a widowed and retired baseball player, moved with his daughter to Connecticut to work as a housekeeper to an advertising executive, Angela, her son, and her man-crazy mother.
The Show Had A Good Run
“Who’s the Boss” aired for eight seasons, with over 196 episodes as a G-rated family program. The show ran from 1984-1992 at a prime-time Tuesday night slot on ABC, which gave viewers a great opportunity to watch little Samantha and Jonathan grow up.
A Brand New Life
If you watched the show regularly, then you can probably still hear the theme tune in your head. “A Brand New Life” was written by the series creators Cohen & Hunter and the music was composed by Larry Carlton & Robert Kraft.
Who Was The Real Boss?
Mark Cohan and Blake Hunter created the show, so technically they were the bosses. The popular ABC show was nominated for over 40 awards and was regularly in the top ten in the final prime time ratings from 1985 to 1989.
Tony Danza Thought He Was The Boss
Although the show was designed so that each character would eventually take their turn becoming the ‘boss’, Danza took the show very seriously and often tried to take ownership of its productivity. Danza once even held a two week walk-out near the end of the 1989 series as a protest against the show’s writing quality, which he later apologised for.
Tony Micelli (played by Tony Danza)
Tony played the show’s gentle, honest housekeeper. He was proud of his Italian roots, and was a widower who wanted to give his daughter a better life than she had in Brooklyn.
Tony had previously played a character also named Tony on the show “Taxi”, which ended as “Who’s the Boss” began. Both Tony characters were pretty similar, and Tony went on to play a teacher in real life after the show ended.
Angela Bower (played by Judith Light)
Bower’s character was a high-powered ad executive who was very by-the-book. She was also a strong, single mother who was conservative and straight-forward. Light got the role because she was classy and because of the way she carried herself.
Bower’s character couldn’t be more opposite to Tony’s – thankfully this made for some hilarious drama and chemistry on the show. Before joining “Who’s the Boss”, Light was on “One Life to Live”. After the series ended, she did several Lifetime movies as well as acting on “Law & Order Special Victims Unit,” and “Ugly Betty.”
Angela and Tony’s Eternal Love?
Despite admitting their love for each other in Season 8, the pair never wedded. The ending was purposely left ambiguous so it didn’t hurt the ratings in syndication. There was still a wedding though, for Samantha and her boyfriend Hank.
Samantha Micelli (played by Alyssa Milano)
Milano was just 12-years-old when she played the part of Micelli, although the character was even younger then that. The tomboy was also known as Sam, she played basketball and became the an idol to many young teen in the ’80s.
You might recognise Milano for her roles on “Mistresses”, “Melrose Place” and most notably, “Charmed”. Milano has also been busy doing humanitarian work for causes such as UNICEF.
Jonathan Bower (played by Danny Pintauro)
Jonathan was Angela’s son on the show. He played a shy character that lacked self-esteem after needing a father figure in his life. This was Pintauro’s first role – he was on the soap opera “As the World Turns”.
After the show ended, Pintauro starred in just a few projects, including “The Secret Life of the American Teenager”. Instead of acting, he focussed on managing a restaurant in Las Vegas and became the face of the HIV equal campaign, which raised awareness and equality for people with HIV.
Mona Could Have Easily Been The Boss
Mona Robinson, played by Katherine Helmond, was not your usual 1950s mother. She was feisty, frisky and dated a lot of different men – which was quite progressive for the time. Did you know that the role of Mona was initially written to be Angela’s sister, but the cast couldn’t make it work as well as it did being her mother.
Helmond was most notably known for her role on the TV show “Soap” before landing spots in theatre and Broadway. After “Who’s the Boss”, she appeared in one episode of the British version, “The Upper Hand,” and later landed a reoccurring role on “Everybody Loves Raymond”. You might have recently spotted Helmond on the vampire drama “True Blood”.
The Show Had Several Legendary Special Guests
Delta Burke was Angela and Tony’s next door neighbour for the first season of the show. Burke even tried to swoop in and steal Tony as her new maid – we think she had the hots for him.
Sinatra appeared in Episode 15, Season 5 of the show as himself. Angela was going to a party in New York, where Frank Sinatra would be singing, so Tony and Mona competed to be her plus one. This was Sinatra’s final “film credit”.
Ray Charles guest starred as himself during Season 3 Episode 15, “Hit the Road Chad.” Charles was going to sing a song that Sam’s then boyfriend wrote for her on an ad that was being produced by Angela’s agency, but after Sam’s boyfriend cheated on her, teenage angst ensued.
Betty White was another popular guest that appeared in Season 1 of the show.
Mike Tyson might have been the most bizarre guest on the show, after he appeared in Season 6 Episode 13 called “Sam Accelerates”. Everyone was excited when Sam was admitted into an acceleration program at her high school, but fear quickly set in for her and Tony when they realized she would be leaving for college a year early.
Sam Really Was Her Father’s Daughter
Sam’s family chaperoned her on her trip to Ft. Lauderdale in order to have a vacation of their own. However, Sam and her friend Bonnie got hit on by two boys who had suspicious intentions, which led to Sam and Bonnie having a big argument. This episode during Season 6 resonated with a lot of teenagers who were dealing with a similar situation in their own lives.
Death and Love – Part 2
How could we forgot the episode in Season 8 where Tony proposed to Angela over the blimp at a NY Giants game. Angela turned Tony down, claiming that he was proposing for “the wrong reasons”. Tony proceeded to give her space and spent the majority of the episode in the toilets. It turns out that Angela was just afraid of having another failed marriage and eventually she proposed to Tony.
Allergic To Love
You’d think that kissing your fiancée would be one of your favourite things to do, right? Well not for Tony in Season 8 Episode 15, where he got a swollen lip every time he kissed Angela. Angela blamed it on the stress of the upcoming wedding, but thankfully it turned out to be the wedding invitations.
The episode where Tony saw Angela in the show was so popular that “Family Guy” even chose to honour it in Season 2, Episode 5, “Love thy Trophy”.
Family Can Be Chosen
Every family is different – some are bound through blood whilst others are connected through law. Although Sam and Jonathan didn’t become stepsiblings until the end of the show, they always treated each other like a true brother and sister.
The TV Family Were Also A Family Off Screen
Danza was like a father to both Pintauro and Milano on and off screen – he even posted their report cards on set. The trio still have a close bond to this day, but not Tony’s adopted child Billy.. Do you even remember him?
They Set The Bar For Father/Daughter Relationships
Sam and Tony’s relationship was an inspiration for many people who wanted to have a good father/daughter relationship. The duo got into silly shenanigans on the show regularly, which made for enjoyable viewing.
Danny Pintauro Came Out About His Fight Against HIV
After “Who’s the Boss” finished airing, Pintauro came out and married in 2014. Not only was Pintauro the spokesman for the HIV Equal campaign, but he also has HIV. The aim of the campaign was to take away the stigma of the virus and to encourage testing.
The Show Was A Total Success
Viewers and television executives alike enjoyed the show, which led to “Who’s the Boss” winning 10 primetime Emmy Awards and more than five Golden Globes. Catherine Helmond even won a Golden Globe Award as best supporting actress for her portrayal of Mona in 1989.
Where You Can Watch The Show Now
Crackle, an internet streaming network, still streams some episodes from Seasons 1, 2, and 8. Alternatively, you can purchase Season 1 on DVD on Amazon or re-watch most of Seasons 1-4 on YouTube.
The Final Scene
Tony and Angela were having long-distance issues at the end of the final series. The show’s final scene depicts Tony knocking on the door and Angela answering it in her bathrobe just like the first episode. In the end it left us to wonder if they were able to make it work or not – do you think they ever did?