Previously Known For: As Jonathan Bower on Who’s the Boss?
|Currently Known For: His 2015 Admission To Being HIV Positive Since 2003|
“Coming out turned into a positive thing. I had nothing to hide. I was not at all secretive about it. There was nobody in my life who didn’t know.” Born and raised on the east coast throughout the late 1970s and early 1980s, Daniel John Pintauro came into this world on January 6, 1976 in Milltown, New Jersey. Living in such close proximity to New York, it wasn’t hard for Pintauro to dip his feet into the wild waters of the acting industry, which is exactly how he landed the recurring role of Paul Ryan on the popular daytime drama, As the World Turns, in 1982. Spending the next three seasons on the show, the young Pintauro’s on-screen charm was undeniable as he ventured over to the silver screen in 1983 when he was cast as Tad Trenton in Cujo.
Even bigger things were on the horizon for Pintauro in 1984 when, at only eight years old, he was cast as the adorable Jonathan Bower opposite Tony Danza, Judith Light and Alyssa Milano on ABC’s newest series, Who’s the Boss? With the series becoming one of the most popular sitcoms in the late 1980s and earning over 40 award nominations at the Primetime Emmys and the Golden Globes, Pintauro became a household name over the show’s eight seasons and went on to appear in Highway to Heaven, The Beniker Gang and Timestalkers. Unfortunately, luck wasn’t on the 16-year-old’s side when he wrapped up the show in 1992 and discovered he wasn’t nearly as popular or as hirable as before as he found only minor success on the stage in productions of Mommie Queerest and The Velocity of Gary.
Ultimately recognizing that his boyish charm had worn off in Tinsel Town, Pintauro stepped away from the spotlight to focus on his education in the early 1990s and enrolled at Middlesex County College in Edison, New Jersey in 1994. Getting his basic requirements out of the way, he transferred to Stanford University the following year and studied English and theater. Then, just a year before his college graduation, he sat down with the National Enquirer tabloid in a tell-all where he openly came out as gay. That, however, wouldn’t be the end of Pintauro’s confessions… but more on that in a moment!
Returning to theater with the hopes of rekindling an iota of his childhood stardom and passion, Pintauro struggled to make his mark in the industry and even admitted as such during an interview in the new millennium. “What I’m having is this conflict in my life right now, that I see my directing friends and I see my acting friends and they’ve all got this level of passion about either or both of those directions that I’ve never really found myself having. I have a feeling that when I find whatever it is I’m supposed to do, I’ll have that passion. I don’t yet, and that’s ok,” he said as he turned his attention to working beyond the stage. “From the time I was two, I was doing one thing after another and, if there was a space in between projects, it was very small. It wasn’t until I could get out of Stanford that I could sit down and think about my life, to do the things that most kids do, which is to ask who I am, what do I want to be when I grow up. I never got to do Dan Pintauro.”
Determined to step back from his life in the spotlight to uncover his true passions, Pintauro briefly worked as a Tupperware salesman in New York and taught acting at a local high school. He cashed in on his youthful looks and auditioned for every teen and 20-something year old part he could find saying, “I’m a skinny kid and I don’t look my age.” Of course, that wasn’t the only part of life Pintauro explored when, despite struggling professionally, he saw his personal life blossom when he met and fell in love with Will Tabares, a Las Vegas entertainer and casino employee. Engaged during their Palm Springs vacation in April 2013, the couple exchanged vows on April 3, 2014 in a private beach ceremony that left Pintauro gushing. “The wedding was terrific and everyone was so happy to be there,” he said! “Everything went off without a hitch!”
Eventually settling down in Las Vegas and taking over as a restaurant manager, Pintauro was happily enjoying the next chapter of his life when Oprah invited him to appear on her special, Oprah: Where Are They Now? to share the story behind his rise and fall to fame. During the interview, Pintauro left no question unanswered as he shared details of his early fame from Who’s the Boss? as well as the harsh reality of his meth addiction throughout his teens and early 20s. Admitting that he spent most of the decade getting high and hooking up with random strangers, Pintauro contracted HIV in 2003 with a man he’s never been able to find again. “Believe it or not, with this guy I was actually safe and we used condoms… When you put all of these nasty things together like a compromised immune system, having been up for a long time, drugs, rough sex, all of that combined with lesions in your mouth, bodily fluids, it’s that easy,” Pintauro said. He also admitted that he’s searched high and low for the man without any luck. “I searched the obituaries because I had a fear that I’d find him there and I can’t find him. So, we’re going to keep searching.”
Although sitting down with Oprah Winfrey made Pintauro exceptionally nervous, telling his Who’s the Boss? family was even harder because Tony Danza, Judith Light, and Alyssa Milano are like his real family. “They are my other parents,” Pintauro said. “Tony will always be my other father. And, just like any father, he’s going to be disappointed when you give him bad news or when you tell him you haven’t lived up to his expectation. That’s OK. That’s human nature. I can’t ask him to not be disappointed.”
Still clean today, the 42-year-old Pintauro says he doesn’t have any regrets because he’s found his passion and is using his voice to raise awareness about the harsh realities of addiction. “I’ve experienced the stigma firsthand many times over the years… I’m shocked that so few people even know that meth hookup sites or porn sites exist…” he says. “I’ve turned a blind eye, myself, long enough. I have so much respect for every single person who dedicated their lives to keeping people talking about HIV and meth, but it makes me angry to know that it took a child celebrity coming out about it to get people to start listening again… So, I’ve decided I need to do something about it.”