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HomeWordstream'Taxi' stars then and now: How they've transformed over the years

‘Taxi’ stars then and now: How they’ve transformed over the years

In just five seasons on the air, "Taxi" won 13 Emmys, including three for best comedy series, and became an American TV classic. The pioneering sitcom, which premiered in 1978, focused on the everyday lives of drivers at New York City's Sunshine Cab Company who all dream of bigger things. With its core ensemble — Danny DeVito, Jeff Conaway, Marilu Henner, Tony Danza, Randall Carver, Andy Kaufman and Judd Hirsch — "Taxi" redefined television comedy and still brings the laughs in syndication. In honor of Marilu's 71st birthday on April 6, 2023, join us as we celebrate her and the rest of the talented cast with a look at what they've been up to since the show ended.

Marilu Henner played single mother Elaine Nardo, who drives a taxi to make ends meet but dreams of being an artist.

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Marilu Henner followed "Taxi" up with leading roles in '80s films including "The Man Who Loved Women," "Johnny Dangerously" and "L.A. Story." She went back to TV to star opposite Burt Reynolds in the '90s sitcom "Evening Shade" and appeared as herself in the 1999 movie "Man on the Moon" about her "Taxi" co-star Andy Kaufman. Marilu, who appears regularly in Hallmark's Aurora Teagarden mystery series, also became an author — she's penned nine books about healthy lifestyles, diet and her incredible memory. (The actress has hyperthymesia, or total recall memory, and can remember specific details of virtually every day of her life since she was a child.) The mother of two, who hosts her own daily syndicated radio program, "The Marilu Henner Show," has two sons with second husband Robert Lieberman and is now married to third husband Michael Brown.

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Tony Danza played Tony Banta, the kindhearted but not-so-sharp Vietnam veteran and aspiring boxer with a losing record.

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Tony Danza's most famous role after "Taxi" was as single dad Tony Micelli on "Who's the Boss?" from 1984 to 1992. Later in the '90s, he starred on the short-lived sitcoms "Hudson Street" and "The Tony Danza Show," the latter of which also was the name of his syndicated morning talk show that ran from 2004 to 2006. The Brooklyn native was nominated for a 1998 Emmy for a his guest-starring turn in "The Practice," and he received critical acclaim for his performance in the 1999 Broadway play "The Iceman Cometh." He's dabbled in other creative pursuits too, releasing the 2002 album "The House I Live In," sung in 1950s crooner style, and co-authoring "Don't Fill Up on the Antipasto: Tony Danza's Father-Son Cookbook" with son Marc in 2008. The actor divorced Marc's mom, Rhonda Yeoman, in 1974 after four years of marriage. He then had two daughters with his second wife, Tracy Robinson; the pair split in 2006 after 20 years of marriage.

Judd Hirsch portrayed Alex Rieger, the cynical but compassionate protagonist to whom all the other drivers turn for advice. He won two best lead actor in a comedy series Emmys, in 1981 and 1983, for his performance.

After the series ended, Judd Hirsch starred in successful TV shows including "Dear John" and "Numb3rs." In addition to a prolific stage career, he snagged roles in films like "Running on Empty" (1988), "Independence Day" (1996), "A Beautiful Mind" (2001) and "Uncut Gems" (2019) — plus he reprised his "Taxi" role briefly in "Man on the Moon," the 1999 biopic that starred Jim Carrey as Judd's late co-star Andy Kaufman. The two-time Emmy winner, two-time Tony winner and one-time Oscar nominee has three children: son Alex with first wife Elisa Sadaune and a daughter and son with second wife Bonni Sue Chalkin, a fashion designer whom he divorced in 2005.

Danny DeVito played Louie De Palma, the spectacularly unscrupulous head dispatcher of the Sunshine Cab Company who spends his days in his office bullying and arguing with the drivers. He scored four Emmy nominations (and a 1981 win) for outstanding supporting actor in a comedy.

Danny DeVito's post-"Taxi" career included roles in some of the most seminal films of the '80s including "Terms of Endearment," "Romancing the Stone," "Throw Momma from the Train," "Twins" and "The War of the Roses." Later came starring turns in "Get Shorty," "Matilda," "L.A. Confidential" and other films. On the small screen, he received a 2004 Emmy nod for outstanding guest actor in a comedy series for his work on an episode of "Friends" and has played Frank Reynolds on "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" since 2006. In 2017, Danny earned a Tony nomination for his performance in "The Price" on Broadway. The actor and his "Taxi" co-star Rhea Perlman, who wed in 1982, separated in 2012 after 30 years of marriage. The parents of three reconciled the following year but split again in 2017 and remain close friends.

Jeff Conaway played vain and handsome struggling actor Bobby Wheeler, a prime target of Danny DeVito's mean boss Louie De Palma.

Jeff Conaway famously played Kenickie in the movie "Grease" alongside his friend John Travolta in 1978, the same year "Taxi" premiered. He left the series after the third season and returned during the fourth season for guest appearances only, in part because of his intensifying drug problem. ("Taxi" writer Sam Simon recalled in 2008 that during one shoot, the actor went missing and was found in his dressing room, too high on drugs to perform.) Jeff later played security officer Zack Allan on "Babylon 5" and was featured on the first two seasons of "Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew." He was open about his battles with addiction struggles with multiple substances over the years. The actor — pictured here with his then-girlfriend, singer Vikki Lizzi, in Los Angeles in December 2010, five months before his death — was married three times, including to Rona Newton-John, the older sister of his "Grease" co-star Olivia Newton-John. The troubled star died of pneumonia and sepsis, which were exacerbated by a drug overdose, on May 26, 2011, at 60.

Christopher Lloyd played Reverend Jim Ignatowski, a gentle soul whose fondness for drugs turned him from promising Harvard student into super-spaced-out former hippie. The actor won two Emmys for his portrayal of the unforgettable character.

Christopher Lloyd's most well-known role after "Taxi" was as eccentric inventor Emmett "Doc" Brown in the "Back to the Future" movie trilogy. His eclectic career would take him to many projects geared toward younger viewers, from "Clue" and "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" to "The Addams Family" and "Dennis the Menace." The Connecticut native, who joined the Disney+ hit "The Mandalorian" for its third season, has been married to fifth wife Lisa Loiacono — who was his real estate agent for the 2012 sale of his Montecito, California, home — since 2016.

Randall Carver played John Burns, the naive small-town forestry student who takes a job as a cabbie to pay for college. The character was written out after the first season — the actor later said it was because John Burns and Tony Banta's storylines were too similar.

After his one season on "Taxi," Randall Carver appeared in numerous television shows including "The Love Boat," "Six O'Clock Follies" and "Malcolm in the Middle" and dozens of TV movies. (His favorite was "Detour to Terror," in which he "got to play his first bad-guy role terrorizing O.J. Simpson," he notes on his website.) Randall also nabbed roles in films like "Murphy's Law" and "There Will Be Blood." The Fort Worth, Texas, native, who's married to Emmy-nominated writer Shelley Herman, was adopted and raised as an only child. Later in life he tracked down and happily reunited with nine biological siblings.

Rhea Perlman played Zena Sherman. She has a romantic relationship with Louie (played by future husband Danny DeVito, pictured with her on a 1979 episode) but marries someone else after they break up.

Rhea Perlman followed "Taxi" up with the role of a lifetime — uber-crabby waitress Carla Tortelli in the sitcom "Cheers." During the show's run from 1982 to 1993, Rhea was nominated for 10 Emmys for outstanding supporting actress and won four times. Big-screen projects included 1996's "Matilda," which co-starred her husband and former "Taxi" co-star Danny DeVito, and the 2019 film "Poms." Rhea, who had a recurring role on "The Mindy Project" from 2014 to 2017, also wrote the children's book series "Otto Undercover" about a boy who has many adventures while trying to find his undercover agent parents. The New York City native, who split from her famous husband for the second and final time in 2017 (35 years after they married), told Bravo host Andy Cohen in 2019 that she and Danny have become closer friends since their separation than they were in their final years as a couple.

Andy Kaufman was Latka Gravas, an immigrant from a strange foreign land who often speaks in his strange foreign tongue and works as a mechanic fixing taxis at the Sunshine Cab Company.

Andy Kaufman — an actor, singer, professional wrestler and performance artist — made audiences howl with laughter but has been called an "anti-comedian" because he didn't tell jokes or engage in other conventions of traditional comedy. "The comedian's promise is that he will go out there and make you laugh with him," he once said. "My only promise is that I will try to entertain you as best I can." Entertain he did — both as Latka on "Taxi" and at unique live performance-art shows in which he sometimes appeared as himself and sometimes as his alter ego, the obnoxiously rude lounge singer Tony Clifton. The eccentric performer, who was immortalized by Jim Carrey in the 1999 biopic "Man on the Moon," died of lung cancer on May 16, 1984, at 35. Because pranks and elaborate stunts were big elements of his career, persistent rumors have circulated that his death was a grand hoax.

Carol Kane won two Emmys for her performance as Simka Dahblitz-Gravas, who is from the same country as Andy Kaufman's Latka. Though they belong to ethnic groups that traditionally are enemies, they fall in love and get married.

Carol Kane went on to guest star on classic TV shows like "Cheers," "Seinfeld" and "Ellen" and later appeared on "Two and a Half Men," "Ugly Betty" and "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt." Her movie career included memorable turns in "The Princess Bride" and "Scrooged" and she made a cameo as her "Taxi" character in the Andy Kaufman biopic "Man on the Moon." The actress is also known for her portrayal of the evil headmistress Madame Morrible in the Broadway musical "Wicked" and played the part in various productions from 2005 to 2014. Carol (pictured with her former "Taxi" co-star Christopher Lloyd at an event in New York City in December 2021) dated Woody Harrelson for two years in the '80s, but the never-married star has otherwise maintained a super-low public profile.

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