Danny Pintauro From "Who's the Boss?" Quit Acting 27 Years Ago. See Him Now.
The child actor took a break from Hollywood at 16 and has a much different career now.
Danny Pintauro literally grew up on TV. For eight years, he starred on Who's the Boss as Jonathan Bower, the son of single mom Angela (Judith Light), whose world gets turned upside down when a new housekeeper (Tony Danza) and his daughter (Alyssa Milano) move in. The multi-camera sitcom was a smash hit and ran on ABC from 1984 to 1992. By the time it ended, 16-year-old Pintauro was a bonafide teen heartthrob, regularly appearing on the covers of Bop and Teen Beat alongside the likes of Kirk Cameron and Michael J. Fox. Then, he walked away from Hollywood and a career as a full-time actor. To find out why Pintauro quit the business and what he's up to today, read on.
Pintauro initially took time off to go to school.
Before Who's the Boss, Pintauro got his first credit on the soap opera As the World Turns, followed by his film debut in 1983's Cujo. And during the run of the sitcom, he took on a few other jobs, including two TV movies.
When Who's the Boss went off the air, Pintauro took a break from acting to finish high school and then study theater at Stanford University. After graduating, he tried to get back into the game and did act on stage in a couple of productions. However, he didn't find the onscreen success that he'd once had, and a tabloid story further complicated matters.
Pintauro came out as gay in a tabloid magazine.
In 1997, the National Enquirer called the young actor to tell him that they would be running a piece publicly outing him as gay. Pintauro told Metro Weekly two years later that it wasn't as traumatic as some might assume since he was already open about his sexuality in his personal life.
"Most people think it was a terrible, terrible experience," he told the outlet. "It wasn't. It could have been if I hadn't been expecting it. If they hadn't been nice enough to call and ask if I wanted to be a part of it. But as an actor, I have to say that I was totally expecting it sooner or later because I was not hiding it. I wasn't in the closet. I knew it was going to happen."
Pintauro said he called his former co-star and close friend Judith Light for advice. "And her advice was, 'If they're going to write a story about you, whether you like it or not, you might as well want to have them quote you correctly,'" the actor explained. "So I cooperated with the Enquirer. And the article was actually really great. It was heartfelt. It was interesting. It was intelligent. What people don't realize about those magazines is that if you cooperate, they'll do a good story. They'll do it right. If you don't cooperate, they'll take it out on you."
And Pintauro certainly has no regrets today. On this year's Spirit Day, a celebration of the LGBTQ+ community, he posted a TikTok that begins, "You know, it always makes me smile when somebody tells me I inspired them to come out of the closet. It's something I get to be proud of for the rest of my life."
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In 2015, Pintauro shared that he has been HIV-positive since 2003.
During a 2015 appearance on Oprah Winfrey's Oprah: Where Are They Now, Pintauro disclosed his HIV-positive status. He was diagnosed in 2003.
"I went in for a regular checkup," he said. "You know, as a responsible gay man, you're getting an HIV test done every six months …. And you sort of waited two weeks on pins and needles, or at least I did, because I was just terrified of the idea of getting HIV."
He said he believed he contracted it because he had been using drugs and was therefore less concerned with safe sex.
"On crystal meth, you have no boundaries, you feel invincible," he told Winfrey. "You feel incredibly heightened when it comes to your sexuality, and everything sounds and feels exciting to you."
Revealing his HIV status made him happier, he said.
Though he did feel compelled to back out right before the Winfrey interview, Pintauro has said that ultimately, being candid about his status has improved his life.
"It used to be hard to walk down the street without someone recognizing me, and that was initially because I was on Who's the Boss?. Then it was, 'He was on Who's the Boss? and he's gay.' Now, it was going to be, 'He was on Who's the Boss?, he's gay, and he's another one of those HIV-positive guys,'" the now 45-year-old told People in 2021. "That was a little bit terrifying, but it didn't really make me second guess it because I'm much happier as a person with no secrets."
And Pintauro didn't stop at telling the world that he's HIV-positive. After the interview aired, he collaborated with the social media campaign HIV Equal for the "Beacon of Light" tour, which was meant to decrease the stigma associated with the disease, as reported by People. The campaign involved in-depth discussions between Pintauro and HIV and AIDS experts about living with the condition.
"I'm proud to say tonight, in front of this welcoming and passionate and good-looking crowd, that this award, in so many ways, completes a huge life circle and reinforces that I have made the right decisions," he said when he accepted, the Desert Sun reported.
Today, he's a vet tech living in Austin.
Pintauro dabbled in a few fields after graduating college, including the entertainment industry in a behind-the-camera capacity. In addition to working as a casting assistant, production coordinator, and agent assistant, according to his LinkedIn, he managed a restaurant and worked at Whole Foods.
He's now a vet tech and pharmacy technician at the Texas nonprofit no-kill shelter, Austin Pets Alive.
"He's something of a wonder around the animals," Katera Berent, communications and events manager at the shelter, told Austin360 in 2019. "You can sense the love he feels for each cat and dog he's caring for."
The Who's the Boss? star told the outlet that he feels his work at the clinic is his true calling.
"As a very young kid, this is literally what I wanted to do when I grew up. Even though I was on TV, every summer, I would work at this vet office near my house in LA and clean kennels or whatever they would let me do," he said. "I loved it."
Pintauro has not lost the acting bug, however. He posts videos of himself performing monologues on TikTok and last year collaborated with several other former child stars for a web series called The Quarantine Bunch. And he has a sense of humor about his sitcom past; In a live musical parody called Who's Da Boss?, Pintauro played a six-year-old version of himself.
He shares his life in Austin with husband of seven years, Wil Tabares.