So you think you know Tony Danza? First, he was cab-driving boxer Tony Banta on the sitcom “Taxi.” Then he was live-in housekeeper Tony Micelli on “Who’s the Boss?” Now Danza’s performing his one-man show, “Standards & Stories,” at the Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts on Saturday, March 11, when he will sing, dance, tell stories and even play the ukulele.
Here are six things about him that you might not be familiar with:
HE HAS LONG ISLAND ROOTS
As a kid, Danza, now 65, summered on Long Island and moved to Malverne when he was 15.
“My mother used to send me out of Brooklyn to live with my Uncle Vinny and Aunt Rose Laudicina in Patchogue in order to get me out of the city so I wouldn’t get in trouble,” he says. “I was in the water a lot. We did a lot of fishing, clamming and crabbing. It was some of the greatest times of my life.”
HE STARTED AS A PRO BOXER
Danza began his career as a professional boxer and even knocked out a fighter at the Long Island Arena in Commack on May 6, 1977.
“I was fighting ‘Irish’ Tommy Molloy on Irish Night at the arena in Commack. They brought him in with a bagpipe band. Here I am ‘Tony Danza’ and that sort of didn’t fit,” he says. “Growing up in Brooklyn, fighting was like another game we played and I was pretty good at it. I was young, and I thought I found the thing I was supposed to do.”
HE WAS DISCOVERED IN A GYM
Danza was discovered by a talent scout while training at Gleason’s Gym in Manhattan in the late 1970s.
“A guy named Stuart Sheslow came in and was trying to put together a pilot about a young fighter and was doing some research,” he says. “He tried to get me a screen test on something. One thing led to the next and I ended up in the greatest show, ‘Taxi.’ ”
‘TAXI’ EPISODE INSPIRED HIM TO SING AND DANCE
Danza’s interest in singing and dancing was sparked from a scene during the second season of “Taxi.”
“We did an episode called ‘Fantasy Borough.’ In the show we all had a fantasy. Tony’s fantasy was to be smart, but Elaine’s [Marilu Henner] was to be a Broadway actress,” he recalls. “We did ‘Lullaby of Broadway’ where we pretended to tap dance in a top hat and tails. I said, ‘I’ve got to learn how to do this.’ I got a teacher, started studying and have ever since. The tap dancing gave me license to try everything else. I always liked to sing and now the ukulele has made it in.”
‘TONIGHT SHOW’ IS PART OF HIS PAST AND PRESENT
Danza has a long history with “The Tonight Show” and is filming a new TV show in California called “There’s . . . Johnny!,” a behind-the-scenes program where he plays "Tonight Show" producer Fred de Cordova.
“Not only was I on ‘The Tonight Show,’ but I also guest-hosted, therefore I actually worked with Freddie,” Danza says. “I’d see him at ‘The Tonight Show’ and at gatherings. He was like a social manager who hung with Gregory Peck, Billy Wilder and James Caan.”
HE WAS A ’70s SEX SYMBOL
Back in the late 1970s, Danza appeared on “Taxi” as a fresh-faced 26-year-old and quickly became a heartthrob.
“I think I handled it well,” he says. “I’m still here, I didn’t get in any trouble, and I had a great time.”
However, at his age, Danza still strives to keep in shape.
“I believe in exercise. Plus, I’m mindful of what I eat and try to take care of myself,” he says. “When you are a fighter, you are always thinking the other guy is training, so I always train.”
TONY DANZA — ‘STANDARDS & STORIES’
WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. Saturday, March 11, at Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts, 71 E. Main St.
INFO 631-207-1313, patchoguetheatre.org