Family & Companions
While many child stars tended to fall off the radar once hitting adulthood, actress Alyssa Milano rode out the initial disinterest she received following her run as Tony Danza's daughter on "Who's the Boss?" (1984-1992) to become the star of numerous television movies and a second hit series. During her eight-year stint on the ABC sitcom, Milano made her feature film debut as Arnold Schwarzenegger's kidnapped daughter in "Commando" (1985), while starring in several high school-themed television movies. But once the sitcom was axed, she quickly sought to ditch her good girl image in favor of a more sultry adult one by starring in erotic thrillers like "Embrace of the Vampire" (1994) and "Poison Ivy II: Lily" (1996), which featured little more than an excuse for the actress to shed her clothes in highly-charged sex scenes. Her decision to appear in such films had unintended consequences, namely the appearance of stills on the Internet, leading to an effort by Milano and her mother to crusade against websites for celebrity copyright infringement. Meanwhile, she returned to series television on the sexy supernatural drama "Charmed" (The WB, 1998-2006), which had its own behind-the-scenes challenges with original star Shannen Doherty. Involved in numerous philanthropic ventures over the years, including serving as a UNICEF ambassador, Milano used her celebrity to help raise awareness for a wide variety of causes. Settling into a more comfortable maturity, Milano remained a steady presence on television, appearing in shows ranging from absurdist comedy "My Name is Earl" (NBC 2005-09) to steamy drama "Mistresses" (ABC 2013-16). Through it all, Milano remained the rare child actor-turned-adult celebrity who maintained a successful career while elevating herself to a valued international humanitarian.
Born on Dec. 19, 1972 in Brooklyn, NY, Milano was raised in Staten Island by her father, Thomas, a music editor, and her mother, Lin, a former fashion designer and talent manager. When she was seven years old, Milano was brought to an open casting call by her babysitter for a touring company production of "Annie" without telling her parents. Milano was one of four plucked out of 1,500 aspirants and spent the next 18 months on the road with her mother as chaperone. Upon her return, she appeared in several off-Broadway productions, including a musical adaptation of "Jane Eyre," while maintaining the semblance of a somewhat normal childhood. After landing representation, the 10-year-old actress was flown to Los Angeles, where she auditioned for the part of Tony Danza's daughter for the pilot episode of "Who's the Boss?" She landed the role, moved to the West Coast with her family and spent the next eight years playing Samantha Micelli, the smart-aleck daughter of a put-upon widowed father (Danza) who finds employment as a live-in housekeeper for a divorced advertising executive (Judith Light) and her family (Katherine Helmond and Danny Pintauro).
While not the most inspired sitcom ever made, "Who's the Boss?" was nonetheless an audience-pleasing show that maintained solid ratings, lasted eight seasons, spawned a spin-off called the short-lived "Living Dolls" (ABC, 1989), and enjoyed a long life in syndication. But most importantly, the show turned Milano into a star, leading to several television movies and even a few feature film roles. Just a year after she started her television role, Milano was cast opposite action star Arnold Schwarzenegger in "Commando" (1985), playing the daughter of a retired special forces soldier who is kidnapped by thugs loyal to an exiled Latin America dictator (Dan Hedaya) looking for his revenge. During hiatus from the show, she made several small screen movies, including "The Canterville Ghost" (syndicated, 1986), which was adapted from Oscar Wilde's short story; "Crash Course" (NBC, 1988), a comedy about a group of mischievous high school seniors taking a summer driver's education class; and "Dance 'Til Dawn" (NBC, 1988), another high school comedy that starred the likes of Christina Applegate, Tracey Gold, Matthew Perry and Tempestt Bledsoe. At this same time, Milano was hitting the town with her famous peers, including dating one of the biggest movie stars of the late 1980s, Corey Haim, with whom she shared a love of Dodger baseball, but with whom she did not share an addiction to drugs. Despite efforts by both herself and her family to help the still teenage actor deal with an addiction already taking hold, the relationship ended. A few years later, Milano would date another famous actor, "Party of Five" (Fox, 1994-2000) star Scott Wolf, whom she met in 1992 when they co-starred in the film "Double Dragon" (1994). The photogenic couple became engaged in October 1993 but broke off the engagement in 1994.
Continuing to appear in other projects outside the show, Milano turned up in a supporting role for the dreadful "Speed Zone" (1989), the third in the "Cannonball Run" series that was by far the worst of the bunch. Meanwhile, she released several teen pop albums, including Look in My Heart (1989), Locked Inside a Dream (1991) and Do You See Me? (1992), though all her albums were only available for sale in Japan. Following a starring role in the indie romantic comedy "Little Sister" (1992) and a small role as a police officer in "Where the Day Takes You" (1992), Milano and her fellow "Who's the Boss?" castmates said their goodbyes to their beloved series. Both nervous and excited about her future, Milano sought to shed her good-little girl image in favor of more sultry adult roles, starting with "Casualties of Love: The 'Long Island Lolita' Story" (CBS, 1993), in which she portrayed notorious homewrecker Amy Fisher, who triggered a media frenzy after shooting the wife (Phyllis Lyons) of grimy auto body shop owner Joey Buttafuoco (Jack Scalia). Completely casting off her former child image, Milano ventured into erotic thriller territory with "Embrace of the Vampire" (1994), in which she starred as an innocent girl who becomes the victim of an ancient curse that turns her into the sexually-charged concubine of a vampire (Martin Kemp).
Milano upped the ante even further with the straight-to-video sequel, "Poison Ivy II: Lily" (1996), which featured numerous erotic scenes and really not much else. She followed with a "Public Enemy #1" (HBO, 1996), a forgettable look at Ma Barker (Theresa Russell) and her criminal sons. After being marooned up north for 19 days in "To Brave Alaska" (ABC, 1996), Milano finally earned decent notices for her turn as yet another sex-starved teen and best friend of Reese Witherspoon in the well-received thriller, "Fear" (1996). She landed the title role in Robert Downey, Sr.'s "Hugo Pool" (1997), an uneven romantic comedy about a pool cleaner who embarks on a road trip that leads to a series of encounters with a film director (Robert Downey, Jr.), a local politician who moonlights as a gangster (Richard Lewis) and a young man suffering with Lou Gehrig's disease (Patrick Dempsey). In 1997, Milano began crusading to protect celebrity images on the Internet after her mother found still captures of movie scenes in which Milano appeared nude, as well as many faked images. The actress and her family became vigilant against celebrity copyright infringement, using the proceeds from legal victories to launch a family-friendly web entertainment search engine, safesearching.com.
Returning to series television, Milano took a page from Heather Locklear's playbook and joined the cast of the popular primetime soap "Melrose Place" (Fox, 1992-99), playing Jennifer, the scheming sister of Michael Mancini (Thomas Calabro). Milano's adult success was firmly cemented when she signed on to another Aaron Spelling venture, "Charmed" (The WB, 1998-2006), playing Phoebe Halliwell, one of a trio of twenty-something sisters (Milano, Shannen Doherty and Hollie Marie Combs) who discover their family tradition of witchcraft. While relationships were harmonious onscreen, things were not so convivial behind the camera, thanks to notorious Hollywood bad girl Shannen Doherty who departed the series after reports of clashes with Milano and the production team. During her "Charmed" run, Milano landed episodes of the failed remake of "Fantasy Island" (ABC, 1998) and the hit comedy "Spin City" (ABC, 1996-2002) while appearing in a supporting role for the crude sex comedy "Buying the Cow" (2001). Often toiling in low-level indie features, Milano made her next onscreen appearance as a sexy hitchhiker in the David Spade comedy, "Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star" (2003).
Following her stint on "Charmed," which ended in 2006, Milano had a recurring role on "My Name is Earl" (NBC, 2005-09), playing the crazy third wife of the titular petty thief (Jason Lee), who hates the fact that he spends more time working on improving his karma by correcting the past than spending time with her. In 2007, the lifelong baseball fan served as a post-season correspondent for MLB.com's new broadband channel, "TBS Hot Corner." Back to television movies, she starred in "Wisegal" (Lifetime, 2008), playing a widowed wife and mother, who becomes involved with the Mafia and rises up the ranks, only to discover the danger it poses to her two sons. After appearing in an episode of the hit comedy procedural "Castle" (ABC, 2009-16), Milano returned to the sitcom world as the star of her own show, "Romantically Challenged" (ABC, 2010-11), playing a recently divorced mom who dives back into the world of dating after a long absence, while at the same time, shifting gears from family life to being the sole breadwinner. Although that series was short-lived, Milano had more success with the sopay drama "Mistresses" (ABC 2013-16), in which she starred for two seasons. In 2016, it was announced that Milano had joined the cast of Netflix series "Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later" (Netflix 2017).
Cast (Feature Film)
Producer (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
First acting role was in a national tour of "Annie"
Film debut, "Old Enough"
Played Terry in the NYC production of "All Night Long"
Cast as Samantha Micelli on long-running ABC sitcom "Who's the Boss?"
Co-starred with Arnold Schwarzenegger in "Comando"
TV-movie debut, "The Canterville Ghost"
Released "Teen Steam" exercise video; also released first album in Japan
Starred in features "Where the Day Takes You" and "Little Sister"
Portrayed Amy Fisher in CBS' "Casualties of Love: The Long Island Lolita"
Returned to series TV playing the sister of Michael Mancini (Thomas Calabro) on Fox's "Melrose Place"
Co-starred as Phoebe Halliwell on The WB series "Charmed"; was a producer for the fifth season
Appeared in the comedy "Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star"
Cast in a recurring role on NBC's "My Name Is Earl" as Billie Cunningham
Served as a post-season correspondent on MLB.com's new broadband channel, "TBS Hot Corner"
Starred in the Lifetime movie "Wisegal"
Published a book on her baseball fandom, <i>Safe At Home: Confessions of a Baseball Fanatic</i>
Cast in ABC's "Romantically Challenged" as Rebecca Thomas, a recently divorced single mom
Cast in the ensemble romantic comedy "New Year's Eve," directed by Garry Marshall
Joined the cast of the ABC drama "Mistresses"
Landed a role on the TV series "Wet Hot American Summer: 10 Years Later"