'Who's the Boss?:' 15 Little Known Facts about the Beloved Series

The sitcom ran for eight seasons from the mid-eighties to the early nineties and charmed the audiences with the scenes of domestic life with a modern twist. These are some of the behind-the-scenes stories from the series.

From 1984 to 1992, an amazing ensemble cast consisting of Tony Danza, Judith Light, Alyssa Milano, Katherine Helmond, and Danny Pintauro portrayed a particular sort of mixed family in the hit series “Who’s the Boss.”

The story about an injured former baseball player and widower who moves with his daughter into an upper-middle-class Connecticut household to work for a divorced advertising executive as a housekeeper went on to become a TV icon.

But besides charming us all on the small screen, there are several exciting facts to know about this beloved sitcom. Learn some of them below.

ORIGINAL TITLE

According to 46-year-old actress Alyssa Milano, who played housekeeper Tony Macelli’s daughter Samantha in the series, the show title wasn’t originally conceived as a question but as an affirmation.

In 2010, Milano published her memoir titled “Safe at Home: Confessions of a Baseball Fanatic,” recalling that at the time when she auditioned for her role, the series was supposed to be titled “You’re the Boss.”

MONA

Late actress Katherine Helmond played Angela Bower’s free-spirited mother Mona in the series, but her role was initially thought of as being Angela’s older sister instead.

According to executive producer Martin Cohan, the production was looking for the right actress to play the above-mentioned older sister, but since they never found the right person, they opted to turn the character into Angela’s mother to cast Helmond for the role.

Late Katherine Halmond, who died in 2019. I Image: Getty Images.

Late Katherine Halmond, who died in 2019. I Image: Getty Images.

AD-LIB AUDITION

While leading character Tony Macelli was written with actor and producer Tony Danza, now 68, in mind from the beginning, the rest of the actors and actresses in the series had to be chosen by auditions.

Ironically, it was an ad-lib line by actress Judith Smith, now 70, which earned her the role of Angela Bower.

As Danza recalled, Smith had to walk through the room only with a robe on and as she did it, he “checked her out,” which she immediately noticed, prompting her to utter the unscripted line, “What are you looking at?” which showed him the strength of character he wanted for the part.

Judith Light. I Image: Getty Images.

Judith Light. I Image: Getty Images.

THE HOUSE IN THE OPENING CREDITS

The opening credits of “Who’s the Boss” show the establishing shot of a dreamy suburban home where the story supposedly takes place. Although it is not the actual place where the series was shot, the house is real and still exists.

The house is located at 35 Onondaga Street in Rye, New York, just 26.5 miles away from the show’s fictional setting, Fairfield, Connecticut. The fictional street address was 334 Oak Hills Drive.

MILANO WANTED TO LEAVE EARLIER

By the end of the seventh season, Milano, who had been in the show since the start, was ready to leave the show behind to receive a superior education but the showrunners convinced her to stay for the eighth and final season

TONY AND ANGELA WERE SUPPOSED TO MARRY

As all fans of “Who’s the Boss” probably dreamed of, the characters of Tony and Angela were supposed to marry halfway through Season 7, as the writers of the series conceived it.

But the producers didn’t think this was a good idea in the end for, in their opinion, it was going to affect the show for later syndication if the “sexual tension” of the story got resolved. 

A LONG-RUNNING BRITISH ADAPTATION

The success of “Who’s the Boss” prompted the creation of a British version of the show titled “The Upper Hand” which ran from 1990 to 1996 on the ITV network. It starred Diana Weston, Joe McGann and Laura West. 

TONY AND ANGELA BECAME A COUPLE FOR RATINGS

Despite the evident attraction that existed between the two leading characters and the great on-screen chemistry between actors Danza and Light, it wasn’t until the eighth and final season when Tony and Angela became a couple.

The decision to do so was made because of the declining ratings the series received on Season 7, and the producers thought it could save the show from cancelation, but the ratings failed to improve and the series was wrapped

DANZA AMOST GOES TO JAIL

In 1984, just two days before “Who’s the Boss” debuted, Danza, it’s main star and producer, got involved in a fight with a bouncer at a New York City hotel and was arrested, facing jail time.

Tony Danza. I Image: Getty Images.

Tony Danza. I Image: Getty Images.

Fortunately, the actor’s lawyer managed to convince the judge to sentence Danza to 250 hours of community service, arguing that imprisoning him was going to affect the production of the upcoming series.

INTERNATIONAL TITLES

The success of the sitcom took it beyond US borders, with the show been dubbed to different languages. As a result, the title of the series has also changed from country to country.

In France, the show was called “Madame est servie,” which literally translates as “Madam is served.” In Italy, the title was “Casalingo Superpiu,” meaning “Super Housekeeper.”

In Spanish, the show has two names, “¿Quién manda a Quién?” in Latin America and “¿Quién es el Jefe?” in Spain.

SPINOFFS

Two spinoff series were created from “Who’s The Boss,” and while neither one of them lasted more than one season, they included some big stars on its casts.

Charmed Lives” (1986) revolved around spokesmodels and roommates Fran Drescher, later known for her role in “The Nanny” and Donna Dixon. Both characters were introduced in the last episode from Season 2.

Living Dolls” (1989) focused on a group of young models living together, and starred Leah Remini. It was also the series on which Halle Berry debuted as an actress. 

Halle Berry. I Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Halle Berry. I Image: Wikimedia Commons.

THEME SONG WAS SANG BY THREE DIFFERENT SINGERS

Larry Weiss was the first to record the song “Brand New Life,” written by producers Cohen and Hunter, the series theme song. This version was used for the first three seasons.

Steve Wariner did a version of the song that was used from seasons three to five, followed by Jonathan Wolff, whose version was used from season five and until the end of the series. 

TONY'S ADOPTIVE SON

On Season 7, Tony adopts the late neighbor’s grandson Billy Napoli and he and Angela struggled with co-parenting a little child again. But in the following and final season, the character was gone.

The decision was made by the showrunners when they opted to turn Tony and Angela into a couple and thought that the presence of a young child was going to take attention away from the romance.

FRANK SINATRA

The late legendary singer and actor Frank Sinatra guest-starred in the series, playing himself, in Season 5’s Episode 16, with Tony trying to meet Sinatra, who happens to be his idol.

In real life, Danza’s mother was a big fan of Sinatra, and she told her son that she was only going to consider him a star if he introduced her to Sinatra.

Danza finally introduced Sinatra to his mother in 1989 when the singer shot the episode, and according to Danza, Sinatra treated his mother like “the Queen of England.”

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