Dec 16, 2013

Danny Pintauro: Gay Child Star Comes Out, Gets Engaged

We can roughly divide actors coming out into B.E. and A.E., before and after Ellen Degeneres said "Yep, I'm gay" in big red letters on the cover of Time Magazine (April 14, 1997).

B.E.: You may be out to family and friends, but you always pretended to be heterosexual in public.  If you were "accused" of being gay, you would issue an angry denial.  If you were outed by the media, your career was over.

A.E.: You would casually mention being gay in an interview, and continue to work, although you would never again be cast as action-adventure heroes or romantic leads.

Danny Pintauro came just at the end of the B.E. era.

Born in 1976, he was a popular child star of the 1980s, with a three-year run as Paul Ryan on the soap As the World Turns (1982-85), and starring roles in several movies, including the Stephen King thriller Cujo (1983), The Beniker Gang (1985), about five orphans on the run, and Timestalkers (1987), about time travel.

But he became famous for Who's the Boss (1984-92), starring Tony Danza as Tony Micelli, a housekeeper who brings joie de vivre to his uptight employer Angela Bower (Judith Light) and her horny mother (Katherine Helmond). 

Danny played Jonathan, a preteen who exhibits wide-eyed incomprehension to the sexual tension and double-entendre jokes.  As he entered adolescence, Danny's flamboyant femininity made it rather obvious that he was gay, but nevertheless he gamely followed the scripts and made Jonathan girl-crazy.

When Who's the Boss ended, Danny took time off from acting to finish high school and go to college, studying drama at Stanford.  He fully intended to resume his career.  

Then in 1997, the gossip magazine National Enquirer obtained pictures of Danny frolicking with a male friend, and threatened to out him.  Instead, he gave an interview: "I want Enquirer readers to be among the first to know I've 'come out' and am proud to say I'm gay."

Danny has had only three acting roles since, although he has appeared on Tony Danza's talk show and in a number of documentaries.  Former child stars often have trouble finding adult roles, and in 1997 coming out still made homophobic casting directors queasy. 

But on the bright side, Danny is living happily out of the limelight, managing a restaurant in Las Vegas, and engaged to travel agent Wil Tabares.

Who, by the way, is quite a hunk. 

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