The Untold Truth Of Alyssa Milano

It seems like Alyssa Milano has been around forever, but that's only mostly true. After a string of successful stage roles as a kid actor in the early '80s, she starred as Samantha Micelli (alongside Tony Danza and Judith Light) on the classic family sitcom Who's the Boss? from 1984 to 1992. After a string of mostly indie movies and small roles, she returned to prominent parts on popular shows — the little bit wild Jennifer Mancini on Melrose Place, one of the magical Halliwell sisters on Charmed, and a hard-loving lawyer on Mistresses. Over those 30-plus years on the pop culture radar, two generations of Americans have grown up with the charming Milano as she evolved from child star to teen idol to sexpot to TV mainstay, not to mentionsocial activist and outspoken advocate for a variety of causes and issues. But how much do you really know about Alyssa Milano? 

It's a hard knock life (in a good way)

The first time most people saw Alyssa Milano act was probably on an episode of Who's the Boss?, the ABC sitcom about a nontraditional family comprised of a single mother, her son, their live-in housekeeper, and his daughter, portrayed by Milano. But not even kid actors land a network sitcom without a few roles to their credit, and, for Milano, her big break was co-starring in a national touring production of Annie, a part she nailed without her parents' knowledge or assistance (via Los Angeles Times). Milano's babysitter took her to an audition, where she won the plum role of an orphan over 1,500 other young performers. 

Milano toured with Annie for 18 months, but, that time, she brought her mother along. Her 'rents were also aware when Milano starred in the off-Broadway premiere of a musical adaptation of Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre. After that she got herself an agent, but it was totally on accident, as she'd simply went along with a friend who'd actually scored the appointment. Milano got the agent — not the friend. Sorry, pal.

She was almost in Beetlejuice

Most fans would consider Alyssa Milano a TV actress — not that there's anything wrong with that! She's starred in a string of high-profile TV series, including Who's the Boss?, Charmed, and Mistresses. Milano never had a starring role in a blockbuster or anything, but she landed a few supporting roles in big movies as a kid and adult, including in Commando, Fear, and Hall Pass. She's had a solid and successful career as a TV star, but her trajectory could have been a lot more movie-oriented had the chips fallen a little differently back in the late 1980s.

In 2016, Milano told HuffPost Live that she almost got the role of Lydia Deetz, goth icon and human foil to Michael Keaton's "Ghost with the Most" in Tim Burton's comedy classic Beetlejuice. Milano said she "really, really wanted to get" the gig and that she was a finalist. "It was between the two of us, and she actually got the part," Milano said, referring to fellow finalist Winona Ryder. "You always wonder what would have happened differently in my life had that worked out, not that I would want it to be any different, but it's just an interesting thought game."

She was in Guardians of the Galaxy ... kind of

One of the more obscure Marvel Comics properties to get a big-budget movie treatment, Guardians of the Galaxy was something of a surprise hit, but it had some very talented personnel behind it. In addition to comically inclined performances from Chris Pratt (Peter Quill/Star-Lord), Zoe Saldana (Gamora), and Vin Diesel (Groot), Alyssa Milano — or, rather, her name — had a minor role in what became a blockbuster franchise. 

Don't remember seeing TV's Samantha Micelli as a superhero, or some kind of angry, blue-skinned alien? Well, that's because Milano wasn't in the film physically, but the spaceship with which Star-Lord travels the galaxy is named The Milano. This is not an element from the original comics, but a choice by Guardians of the Galaxy writer-director James Gunn. A lot of fans caught the Easter egg and asked Gunn about it directly on Twitter (via Business Insider): "For those of you who asked, yes, Quill's ship The Milano is named after his awesome childhood crush," which would be the lovely and talented Alyssa Milano.

She was Debbie Gibson and Tiffany put together (in Japan)

There's an old joke in pop music about being "big in Japan," the musician's equivalent of "I have a girlfriend but you don't know her, she lives in Canada." Well, Alyssa Milano really was big in Japan, for real. Concurrent with her time on Who's the Boss?, Milano released four albums in Japan, and she generated enough successful singles that she came out with a greatest hits collection, too. 

And yet none of those songs or albums were ever even released in the U.S. "A lot of actors who release albums here are laughed at," Milano told the Los Angeles Times in 1991, likely throwing some shade at David Hasselhoff, who's known for being big in Germany. "I'd much rather have it released where it's appreciated than laughed at." 

Well, now it's the age of YouTube, where you can either appreciate or laugh at some of Milano's '80s-tastic, bubblegum pop songs firsthand, including "Look in My Heart," "What a Feeling," and "Straight to the Top."

Get in shape the Alyssa Milano way!

Likely inspired by the success of Oscar-winner Jane Fonda's series of home workout tapes, lots of celebrities released their own exercise videos in the late '80s and early '90s. Star-loving fans looking to get fit could enlist the help of LaToya Jackson, Mary Tyler Moore, Estelle Getty, or, of course, Alyssa Milano. Hers was one of the few marketed not to the kind of middle-aged individuals who would take health advice from a Golden Girl, but her teenage fanbase instead. That's why it was given the ultra-cheesy title Teen Steam. 

This 1988 VHS extravaganza was more than a quick paycheck for the Who's the Boss? star, however. "It was during the time when they started to pull all funding out of schools for [physical education], so there was a need for it," Milano told Yahoo! Entertainment in 2015. "To hear stories about how kids would do it and it helped them to feel good about themselves, it's great." In addition to some low-impact, high-result workouts, there are some cut scenes of Milano hanging out in what's supposed to be her bedroom, decorated with a poster of Corey Haim, her boyfriend at the time. Teen steam indeed!

She's a mom first and a 'mistress' second

The light and frothy primetime soap opera Mistresses joined ABC's summer schedule in 2013. Alyssa Milano headlined the cast as Savi Davis, a lawyer whose marriage is falling apart due to her difficulty getting pregnant. Her fertility struggles then lead her to have an affair with a co-worker. What scandal!

Before production began on the third season, filming was set relocate from L.A. to Canada, because it's cheaper to film there. That's when Milano, the undisputed star of the show, quit. "After two wonderful seasons in Los Angeles, the studio has decided to shoot season three of Mistresses in Vancouver," Milano explained on her website (via People). "It's with a heavy heart that I have decided that I can't relocate." 

The reason: She'd just given birth to her second child. "Being a mother and wife comes first and I just cannot uproot my children and separate the family by moving away," she said.

The 'Charmed' life of a producer

While working on Charmed, Milano and her co-star Holly Marie Combs often took charge in running the show during later seasons because showrunner Brad Kern was allegedly never around. "Holly and I produced the last five years of the show, and when we would try to get [Kern] on the phone, we couldn't get him," Milano explained to Variety. "When we would get him on the phone, he wouldn't have the script in front of him, so we just assumed he wasn't in the office." So, she added, she and Combs "would make on-set adjustments, because there was no one on set to make those adjustments."

It's probably for the best that Kern was allegedly M.I.A. because he was later accused of sexual harassment after serving as showrunner of NCIS: New Orleans. And, according to Variety's sources, his alleged inappropriate behavior started way back to when he was working on Charmed.

She'll see you in court

The life of a celebrity isn't all glitz, glamour, and bags with little dollar signs on them. Alyssa Milano claims to be in debt by the millions and have awful credit. The reason, she says, is because of shady dealings made by her former business manager.

According to Variety, Milano filed a $10 million lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court in 2017 against Kenneth Hellie and his accounting company, Hellie, Hoffer & Co. According to the suit, Hellie allegedly forged Milano's signature on a check when she wouldn't give him a payment after she'd fired him...which she had to do because, among other things, he'd allegedly neglected to pay his client's bills and taxes and oversaw a renovation on Milano's home that inexplicably ballooned to a cost of $5 million.

Hellie compared his problems with Milano to "the Johnny Depp situation," implying that his client spent money like it was burning a hole in her pocket. According to Milano's attorney, Hellie's allegations are all nonsense. "Alyssa and David live a relatively modest lifestyle centered on their family," Ellyn Garofalo said. "It is unfortunate that Mr. Hellie finds it appropriate to blame the clients who trusted him rather than take responsibility for his own negligence and misconduct."

Take her out to the ballgame

Alyssa Milano is a baseball fan, and she attends a lot of Los Angeles Dodgers games. But she's not just some Hollywood big-shot who gets photographed at the stadium to look cool or relatable, or who scores good tickets to impress out-of-town guests. In 2013, she told Us Weekly that her "dream job" is to be the "shortstop for the L.A. Dodgers." From 2009 to 2015, Milano served as a contributing blogger for the official website of Major League Baseball, offering her thoughts on the World Series and the All-Star Game and relating some historical bon mots about the national pastime.

She's also the creator of Touch, a line of sports apparel for often-underserved female fans. In 2005, she was at a Dodgers game early in the season, got cold, and sought out something warmer at a stadium gift shop. "And I was offended," Milano told Bloomberg. Why? Well, the women's items were apparently only available in girly pink. 

"Their answer for female sports apparel back then was 'pink it and shrink it,'" she said. So, Milano purchased a child's hoodie in Dodger blue and then started up a company that sold sports team stuff that fit women, but which was available in actual team colors ... not pink.

She's basically a mermaid

Alyssa Milano is conventionally attractive, and surely millions have even had a little crush on her — not just Peter Quill from Guardians of the Galaxy. And it's a matter of public record that even a very famous and beloved movie star from the 1980s completely stole her look from Milano ... which is to say she was the physical inspiration for the Disney artists responsible for bringing Ariel, the little mermaid in The Little Mermaid, to the big screen. Though it'd been an urban legend for years, Milano officially affirmed it on an episode of The Wendy Williams Show in 2013 (via HuffPost).

Milano said she didn't know during the movie's production, but she found out when Disney asked her to host a "making of" The Little Mermaid special. "It came out there that the drawing and likeness of The Little Mermaid was based on pictures of me from when I was younger, which is so cool," she said. No word on if Milano's real-life best friend is a singing crab, however.