When he was in high school, Tony Danza of "Who's The Boss?" fame had quite the birthday surprise for his teacher.
The man, Doug Dye, is now retired and appeared on NBC's "Today" show on Monday to recall a prank Danza pulled on him when he began his first year of teaching and when the actor was a student at Malverne High School in Long Island, New York. Danza, Dye said, is "very difficult to forget" and was a "challenge."
"I learned a lesson - don't tell the kids your birthday," said Dye, 69. "So I said (to the class), 'Yeah my birthday's tomorrow.' The following day, I see him come walking into class and he's got a paper bag. At some point during the class, he said, 'Mr. Dye, Mr. Dye, we're going to celebrate your birthday.' He pulls out a six pack of beer. Takes one out, pops it open. Thank God, he didn't drink it."
"I'm sorry Mr. Dye," Danza joked.
Danza, now 61, appeared on the program to promote his new book, "I'd Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had: My Year as a Rookie Teacher at Northeast High." It is set to hit stores on September 11 and chronicles Danza's time working as a 10th grade teacher to 26 students at Northeast High School in Philadelphia for a year, starting in 2009.
He also discussed his experience on ABC's "The View" on Monday, adding that it was hard to get his students to open up to him. Sometimes, he had to deal with sensitive issues.
"Now you get the kid, you show the kid you care, so now he opens up to you or she opens up to you and you end up with information that these kids carry around with them that is very hard to handle," he said. "The emotional grind of that - sometimes you even have to report it, because it's so crazy."
His teaching experience was also showcased in a short-lived A&E reality show called "Teach: Tony Danza." The actor says in his book he was inspired to try teaching after watching a documentary made by the group Teach For America, which focused on an inner-city school in Baltimore. He was particularly moved by footage of a tiny audience cheering on students in a school production of the musical "Bye Bye Birdie."
Danza says in his book that when he was in college, he intended to pursue a career in teaching. He obtained a history degree from the University of Dubuque in Iowa. He got into boxing and was discovered at a gymnasium in New York before he was cast on the show "Taxi," which aired between 1978 and 1983, as a character named Tony.
Danza went on to play his breakout role of a single dad-turned-housekeeper, also named Tony, on ABC's "Who's The Boss?," which also launched the career of Alyssa Milano, who played his daughter. Danza has also appeared on Broadway, playing Max in Mel Brooks' musical "The Producers" between 2006 and 2007. He made his debut in the play "A View From the Bridge" in 1997.
Broadway plans + "Golden Girls" tribute
The actor is preparing to return to the stage for a Broadway production of the musical "Honeymoon in Vegas," which is based on a 1992 film starring Nicolas Cage, Sarah Jessica Parker and James Caan. They are not set to appear in the musical, which is scheduled to open in the spring of 2013 after a premiere run in November in Toronto.
Danza last appeared regularly on television in 2002, when he starred on the CBS crime drama "Family Law." He is preparing for a TV comeback - he and Vince Vaughn are developing a comedy series for ABC.
Deadline reported in April that the show "revolves around three guys who are old friends but whose lives took different paths. Now the three, looking for a fresh start, move into a bachelor pad near their children and grandkids."
"I decide you know it's time to try a classic sitcom," Danza said on "The View". "It's sort of 'The Golden Girls' for guys."
He is also set to return to the big screen. The actor, who made his film debut in the 1980 movie "The Hollywood Knights," is playing Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character's father in a new flick tentatively called "Don Jon's Addiction." The project is due to hit theaters in 2013 and also marks Gordon-Levitt's directorial debut. The two previously co-starred in the 1994 film "Angels in the Outfield."