Family & Companions
During his heyday as a teen idol, Scott Baio received 5,000 letters per week from adoring fans. Just as the urban edge had worked for a number of rising screen stars in the 1970s (i.e., John Travolta), Baio adopted a similar stance. His thick Brooklyn accent, disco mop of hair, bronze color and tight jeans were turn-ons for young teens who tuned into "Happy Days" (ABC-CBS, 1969-1984) to watch him as Chachi Arcola. Baio gave them not just sitcom froth, though, but also a host of dramatic performances of teens in trouble. When the teen idol days petered out and the offers for feature films and dramatic roles dissipated, Baio turned to silly sitcoms such as "Charles in Charge" - which also allowed him to move behind the camera as a director - while continuing to maintain a strong following with fans. Though he seemed poised for a return to stardom in 1993 with a dramatic turn on "Diagnosis Murder" (CBS, 1993-2001), Baio left after the first season - a sign that his career was taking a downward turn. But he returned to prominence in 2007 by riding the reality series gravy train with "Scott Baio is 45 and Single" (VH1, 2006- ), a journey of self-discovery that promised to resurrect his love life as well as his career.
Born on Sept. 22, 1961 in Brooklyn, NY, Baio was a tough, rambunctious street kid whose mother feared he was heading for a life of juvenile delinquency. Since his cousins J y and Jimmy Baio had broken into TV commercials and sitcom acting, he was sent to auditions. He not only began to land jobs but also enjoyed the work and straightened out his behavior. In 1976, Baio landed the lead in Alan Parker's British-made youthful gangster send-up, "Bugsy Malone." Although Baio's thick Brooklyn-ese was difficult to understand, he brought a world-weariness to the part and meshed well with leading lady Jodie Foster. Feature film work did, however, remain somewhat elusive. He was alongside other TV sitcom refugees in "Skatetown USA" (1979) and reunited with Jodie Foster for "Foxes" (1980). "Zapped!" (1982), a silly attempt that cast Baio as a quiet science genius who develops telekinetic powers that could undress the high school girls, all but finished his big screen career.
After "Bugsy Malone," however, Hollywood had been begging for his services. ABC won the bidding and the young thespian and his family migrated to Southern California. But the network had no starring role for him; rather it put him as the youthful draw in the very silly, short-lived Nancy Walker vehicle, "Blansky's Beauties" (1977). Baio finally scored as a relative of Henry Winkler's Fonzie on the hit sitcom "Happy Days." As Chachi Arcola, he was well-cast as the young greaser who tried Mr. Cunningham's patience while romancing his daughter. So popular were Baio and Erin Moran as Joanie Cunningham that ABC gave them their own show, "Joanie Loves Chachi," in 1982 - a disastrous experiment that failed to click with audiences, forcing the duo back to Milwaukee and "Happy Days" for the duration of the series.
Baio next headlined the CBS sitcom "Charles in Charge" (1984-85), about a college student who becomes an au pair to three kids in order to pay his way through school. Dressed in ties and vest sweaters, the character was a far cry from the jeans and T-shirt clad Chachi. While CBS canceled the series after a brief run, it was revived in syndication in 1987 and went on to last another three years. Baio also made his directorial debut with episodes of the show. He returned to ABC as the second male actor to play the lead in "Baby Talk," a series loosely inspired by the big-screen hit "Look Who's Talking," but the public tuned out the show. After a "Happy Days" reunion special in 1992, Baio tried a dramatic series as the youthful associate of Dick Van Dyke on the CBS series "Diagnosis, Murder," but he departed after the show's first season (1993-94).
Over the years, Baio had demonstrated his dramatic abilities in a number of TV dramas and movies, often cast as a youth in trouble. He was a shy teen who becomes involved with marijuana and ruins his brother's swimming career in "Stoned," a 1980 "ABC Afterschool Special." That same year, he portrayed a kid more interested in the bottle than in hockey in "The Boy Who Drank Too Much" (CBS). He was a hemophiliac in "Senior Trip!" (NBC, 1980) and a high school football star who, at first, follows his father's orders and rejects a gay friend in "The Truth About Alex" (HBO, 1987). Baio has also served as host for a number of programs aired on E! Entertainment Television as well as several "Before They Were Stars" specials on ABC.
Older, his face filled out a bit, the accent still evident, Baio has remained a bona fide albeit not prestige TV star. Baio continued to appear on screen in a string of low- or no-impact TV films, D movies and failed pilots - in the fall of 1998 he starred in a show called "Rewind" which had been picked up by Fox but the network cancelled the show before a single episode made it to air - but the ex teen idol carved out a niche as a director of episodic television, helming episodes of such series as "The Wayans Bros.," "Unhappily Ever After," "Nick Freno: Licensed Teacher" and "The Parkers." In 2005 he became one of the latest former co-stars of executive producer/narrator Ron Howard to appear in a recurring role on the critically hailed sitcom "Arrested Development," playing the slick lawyer Bob Loblaw.
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Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Film acting debut, the title role in Alan Parker's "Bugsy Malone"
Appeared as regular on ABC sitcom "Blansky's Beauties"
Played regular role of Chachi Arcola on "Happy Days" (ABC), first teaming with Ellen Travolta as his mother
Starred in TV drama "Stoned," an "ABC Afterschool Special"
First TV-movie, "The Boy Who Drank Too Much" (CBS)
First screen teaming with Willie Aames, "Zapped!"
Starred opposite Erin Moran on short-lived spin-off sitcom "Joanie Loves Chachi" (ABC)
Played title role on CBS sitcom "Charles in Charge"; Aames played his best friend and Travolta guest-starred on numerous episodes as his mother
Reprised role of Charles in the syndicated version of "Charles in Charge"; made directorial debut
Starred on ABC sitcom "Baby Talk"
Co-starred with Dick Van Dyke for one season on "Diagnosis Murder" (CBS)
Began hosting "Before They Were Stars" specials for ABC
Announced to star on Fox sitcom "Rewind," but show pulled two weeks before premiere
Starred in crime comedy "Very Mean Men" alongside Matthew Modine and Martin Landau
Wrote and starred in "Face to Face"
Cast as Bill Biscane/Kane in the comedy "Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2"
Landed recurring role on critically hailed Fox sitcom "Arrested Development" as the Bluth family lawyer Bob Loblaw
Starred on VH1 reality series "Scott Baio Is 45...and Single"
Hosted VH1 series "Confessions of a Teen Idol"
Returned to series TV with title role on sitcom "See Dad Run" (Nickelodeon)