Before Tony Danza became the “boss,” he was a bartender at a pub in Malverne, where he grew up. Since then, the 62-year-old actor has taken on various roles in TV and film, has written two books and even served as a public schoolteacher.
On March 14, he’ll be returning full-circle by tending the same taps at Connolly Station (it was called Ickle Bickle’s when he worked there) for a fundraiser to reinstate the Howard T. Herber Middle School sixth-grade field trip.
When Danza, a 1968 Malverne High School graduate, learned from his cousin that the field trip to Frost Valley YMCA in upstate Claryville was in jeopardy due to budget cuts, he volunteered to help.
“Education is my issue,” said Danza, who taught at a Philadelphia high school in 2009, which was chronicled in the reality show “Teach.” He also penned the book, “I'd Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had.”
“I’m worried about the messages we send to kids,” he added. “We tell them education is really important, but put them in a rundown building or cut programs.”
Danza partnered with the Save Frost Valley Committee, a group consisting mostly of parents from Howard T. Herber, to bring together the fundraiser.
Since the field trip, a 42-year tradition, was cut from the Malverne School District’s budget last May, the group has raised $15,000 of the $40,000 needed to reinstate it. Volunteers have washed cars, sold candles and hosted a concert featuring “American Idol” Season 10 contestant and Merrick resident Robbie Rosen.
“SFV is thrilled and grateful that Tony Danza is coming home to Malverne to support our mission,” said committee member Gina Genti. “The community is buzzing and we are anticipating a great night with lots of reminiscing and good laughs, all for a great cause!”
Danza anticipates a nostalgic night.
“I learned a lot about acting behind that bar,” he said. “I won’t be able to resist reminiscing.”
While he’s looking forward to showing off his bartending skills and reconnecting with people from his old neighborhood, more importantly, he said he wants to show kids that “somebody really cares ... It’s not all just lip service.”
With a minimum donation of $20, each participant will get one drink, compliments of Connolly Station owner Gerry Hughes, served up by the “Taxi” and “Who’s the Boss?” star. Additional proceeds will be raised through raffle ticket sales, with prizes including an iPad and a weekend stay at Frost Valley. The event starts at 7 p.m.
Connolly Station is located at 280 Hempstead Ave.