By David-Elijah Nahmod, December 2015 Issue.
Danny Pintauro (pictured) first appeared on the television soap opera “As the World Turns” and later in the Stephen King penned chiller, Cujo (1983). However, it is his eight-season run on the TV sitcom “Who’s the Boss?” which aired from 1984 to 1992, that he is best known and fondly remembered for.
Pintauro was perhaps the cutest kid in Hollywood. But Tinseltown doesn’t let people grow older. After “Who’s The Boss?” ended, Pintauro found himself out of work.
Today, Pintauro is a 39-your-old out and proud gay man, living with his husband, Will Tabares, in Las Vegas. While his Hollywood years may be behind him, Pintauro has just landed a new role: as an activist.
Many people were surprised last month when Pintauro, who came out as gay in 1997, revealed to Oprah that he was a former meth user who had been diagnosed as HIV positive 12 years ago.
“Each reveal felt like a little bit more weight had been lifted from my shoulders,” Pintauro told Echo. “Less because the information was finally out there and more because I filmed the interview with Oprah in May. May! And I had to wait until mid-September to tell anyone about it. So, I was happy that we finally reached that place.”
Pintauro said he has no regrets about the reveal, which took place during the Sept. 26 episode of “Oprah: Where Are They Now?” on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN).
“The response has been so much greater than I ever expected, and it’s a bit overwhelming right now,” he said. “It’s a good overwhelm[ing] … a large part of that is wanting to try to write back to everyone who has posted and written touching sentiments, or told me their stories … one day at a time.”
Moving forward, Pintauro said his goal is to continue to be a gay activist and to raise awareness around HIV/AIDS.
“I had actually wanted to talk about these issues about six years ago but the timing just wasn’t right,” he said. “It was near the end of Oprah’s talk show and nearly everyone wanted to be on, so we weren’t really able to connect with her.”
In hindsight, Pintauro admits he wasn’t quite ready at that time.
When Oprah’s team did contact him, to set up the “Oprah: Where Are They Now?” interview, Pintauro said he knew the time was right. He has since appeared on The View, where he further discussed his HIV status and his past meth use.
“When I first came out in 1997 there was barely a glimmer of hope when it came to gay rights, never mind the right to get married,” he said. “A glimmer of possibility was starting to shine as TV and film was starting to portray the LGBT community in a positive light.”
For a long time, Pintauro said, adhering to the traditions of marriage didn’t seem all that important to him.
“Of course as I got older and realized all of the legal, medical and insurance kinds of reasons to have the right to marry,” he said, [and] it became much more important to me to make sure we secured that right.”
Pintauro said that he had good relationships with his co-stars, and recently reconnected with “Who’s The Boss?” stars Tony Danza and Judith Light.
“Tony has been a huge supporter of my husband and I, going so far as to send us a wedding gift,” he said. “And of course Judith is nothing but supportive of every endeavor.”
He urges parents of child actors to prepare their kids for a life outside of showbiz, stressing the importance of education.
The married couple – Pintauro, who has experience restaurant management, said he and Tabares, who has experience as a hotel manager – hope to open a bed-and-breakfast together one day.
In the meantime, though, activism is his leading role.