Also Credited As:Alyssa Jayne Milano
|Alyssa Jayne Milano on December 19, 1972 in Brooklyn, New York, USA|
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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- ), Milano returned to the sitcom world as the star of her own show, "Romantically Challenged" (ABC, 2010- ), 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.