Capturing the hearts and eyes of millions of Americans from 1984 to 1992, Who’s the Boss? made society question gender norms and kept audiences guessing as to who was actually in charge of Angela Bower's Fairfield, Connecticut household.
1. THE ORIGINAL TITLE FOR THE SHOW WASN’T IN THE FORM OF A QUESTION.
As Alyssa Milano remembered in her baseball-centric memoir, she auditioned for a pilot called You’re the Boss, starring the “cute guy from Taxi.”
2. MONA WAS ORIGINALLY SUPPOSED TO BE ANGELA’S OLDER SISTER.
Who's the Boss? co-creators Martin Cohan and Blake Hunter planned to have a free-spirited older sister of Angela’s as a recurring character, until they had some trouble casting the part. Once they decided to change the sister to a mother, Katherine Helmond came into their lives.
3. AN AD LIB AT HER AUDITION LANDED JUDITH LIGHT THE ROLE OF ANGELA BOWER.
After not working for eight months following a six-year stint on One Life to Live, Light was almost too afraid to audition for the sitcom. But once she got there, she followed the script’s instruction and walked across the stage wearing only a robe. Sensing Danza was looking at her butt, she asked the unscripted question, “What are you looking at?” Danza laughed. And claimed he knew immediately that she was going to get the part.
4. TONY DANZA WAS SENTENCED TO COMMUNITY SERVICE TWO DAYS BEFORE THE SHOW’S DEBUT.
Danza was sentenced to 250 hours of community service after a fight with a bouncer at a New York hotel. He was facing jail time, but his lawyer argued that it would disrupt production of his upcoming show.
5. THERE WAS A WHO'S THE BOSS? SOFTBALL TEAM.
Danza was the pitcher for the sitcom's softball team, even though his character, Tony Micelli, was a retired second baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals. Milano’s father was the team's first baseman.
6. THE HOUSE IN THE OPENING CREDITS IS IN RYE, NEW YORK.
The show was set 30 miles away, in Fairfield, Connecticut. Specifically, at 3344 Oak Hills Drive.
7. FAIRFIELD RESIDENTS SENT GIFTS TO THE SHOW.
Fairfield University officials sent Danza a sweatshirt for him to wear on the show (he did). The local newspaper and the town sent all five of the main cast members sweatshirts, mugs, buttons, bumper stickers, and free newspaper subscriptions when Fairfield celebrated its 350th anniversary in 1989.
8. TONY DANZA WAS FATHER-LIKE WITH HIS YOUNG CO-STARS.
Danza posted Milano and Danny Pintauro's actual school report cards on set.
9. THERE WERE TWO SHORT-LIVED SPINOFFS.
Charmed Lives lasted three episodes, and was based on spokesmodels-turned-roommates Fran Drescher and Donna Dixon’s characters from the season two finale, “Charmed Lives." Living Dolls, about a group of young models living together, ran for 12 episodes in 1989. It starred Leah Remini as Charlie Briscoe, Samantha’s friend, but it’s mostly known as Halle Berry’s acting debut.
10. MONA WAS SET TO LEAVE THE SHOW FOR HER OWN SERIES.
The two-part season three finale “Mona” and “A Moving Episode” was supposed to be a backdoor pilot for Katherine Helmond’s character. She was supposed to stay in New York and help run her brother Cornelius’s recently acquired hotel. When ABC decided not to go ahead with the new series, a last-second ending to “A Moving Episode” was written and shot for Mona to come back home.
11. FRANK SINATRA MADE A CAMEO.
Danza asked Frank’s daughter, Tina, if he would make a guest appearance on the then very popular show. Danza’s mother didn’t believe her son was a real star until he introduced her to the singer.
12. ALYSSA MILANO WANTED TO LEAVE THE SHOW TO GO TO SCHOOL.
Milano wanted to leave after the seventh season, but ABC convinced her to stay. In its eighth season, the network moved the show to Saturday night, where the ratings plummeted low enough that it was cancelled.
13. BILLY WAS KICKED OFF TO MAKE ROOM FOR TONY AND ANGELA TO FIND ROMANCE.
Because the show's producers wanted the eighth (and final) season to focus on Tony and Angela's relationship, the powers-that-be decided to write out Tony’s adopted child, who was just introduced the season before.
14. TONY AND ANGELA WERE SUPPOSED TO GET MARRIED HALFWAY THROUGH THE FINAL SEASON.
But the producers changed their minds, worried that Tony and Angela’s marriage would ruin the show for syndication; they believed that new viewers finding the show would watch more if the sexual tension was ongoing. Instead, the ending was left rather open-ended, with Tony returning to Angela’s home in Connecticut after working in Iowa for a while, echoing the series's first episode.
15. THERE WAS A LONG-RUNNING BRITISH ADAPTATION.
Called The Upper Hand, the series—which ran from 1990 to 1996—was about a former soccer player named Charlie Burrows moving to Oxfordshire and working as a housekeeper for advertising executive Caroline Wheatley. Unlike its American counterpart, the housekeeper and the ad executive got married.
16. MONA WAS THE BOSS.
In a Reddit AMA, Milano was asked who the boss was, to which she replied: “Mona. Duh.”