Who'll Be the Boss?

updated 03/28/1994 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/28/1994 01:00AM

FOR EIGHT YEARS, STARTING IN 1984, she was bubbly as Tony Danza's daughter Samantha on ABC's Who's the Boss? Last year she was steamy as teenage seductress Amy Fisher in CBS's movie Casualties of Love: The "Long Island Lollta" Story. But on this particular afternoon, Alyssa Milano, now 21, is both bubbly and steamy—sloshing around happily in a suds-filled bathtub for a PEOPLE photo shoot with a hunky Tom Cruise look-alike.

What goes on here? No, it's not a classic case of Hollywood hedonism. Actually the guy in the tub with Alyssa is her fiancé, Scott Wolf, 25, an actor she met last June in Cleveland on the set of Double Dragon, an upcoming feature film based on a popular video game, in which they play two adventurers in a futuristic, post-earthquake Los Angeles.

The meeting, apparently, had the feeling of fate. "I knew it the second I met him," says Alyssa. "I called my morn and told her, 'This is the man I'm gonna marry.' " Scott couldn't have agreed more. "I could have asked her to marry me two weeks after we met," he says. "I'm convinced we're like two halves of the same soul." Their particular brand of puppy love is on display wherever they go. "It's nice when other people notice," says Wolf. "People get all oogily around us."

Oogily? "That's our word," explains Alyssa. We're talking terminal cuteness here. To her, he's Love Bug; he calls her Angel Face. True, Scott, who graduated from George Washington University with a finance degree before pursuing acting, was "very, very content to be single" at the time of their first meeting, he says. But a week later the two went to a dance club with film-crew members and "started playing these stupid games like 20 Questions," recalls Alyssa. "After that we played Truth or Dare, and someone dared us to kiss. I wanted to slip that guy 20 bucks."

Scott's resistance quickly faded. "It didn't hurt that she was incredibly cute," he says of his intended. "Yeah, I was physically attracted to her. I don't know how you can be a human male and not be."

At the end of the Cleveland location shoot, a bereft Milano returned to her home in Los Angeles and wrote a page-and-a-half poem about Scott, who had five more days of shooting left. "It was real sappy," she says. "It could have been a Hallmark card." When Scott returned to his Santa Monica apartment, both initially feared that a romance hatched on a movie set might crash in the real world. "We were both scared to death that it wouldn't be the same here," says Milano. "I'll never forget the feeling when he drove up to the house. I was so nervous I wanted to throw up." Scott felt likewise. "But we looked at each other," he says, "and we knew in a second that il was going to be okay."

And it was. In August, Scott moved into Milano's two-bedroom, Spanish-style house in the San Fernando Valley. Then, just before Halloween, he surprised her with a 1940's-vintage diamond engagement ring hidden in a pumpkin. After he proposed (on one knee) and she accepted, they decorated the gourd with a carved heart and the legend "Alyssa loves Scott." "I got the ring," she says. "I figured I'd better write that."

Alyssa's mother, who has been happily married for 25 years, endorsed the love match. "When you meet the right person, you can never be too young—after the age of 18," says Lin Milano, 45, who runs her daughter's production company and married Alyssa's father, Tom, 46, a music editor whose movie credits include The Hunt for Red October, when she was just 21. "They're very compatible. Their relationship is like a rosebud. Every day it blossoms into something more."

On the other hand, Scott's mother, Susan, 51, a drug-abuse counselor in Dover, N.J., was initially skeptical. "Oh, my god, your first leading lady! What are you doing?" she asked Scott, the second of three sons. "But I have a lot of confidence in him," she says now. "He's not a flighty kid. I can see why he loves Alyssa. She's charming, vivacious and sweet. With most Hollywood stars you assume they're going to be pretentious, but there was no pretense with her. And she adores my son—which is what matters most to me."

Milano's Who's The Boss? costar, Tony Danza, who is recovering from broken vertebrae and ribs incurred in a serious skiing accident last December, reports that he too had some reservations about the engagement of the not-so-little girl he regards as one of his own. "Whaddaya kiddin' me? You have a kid grow up with you from the time she's 10 till she's 19, it's pretty tough to let them go," Danza says. "Being the father type, I said, 'Wail a couple years. What's the hurry?' But she really knows what she wants."

She also lets people know that, cuteness aside, what she wants is a serious thing. "I really don't want people to look at this as another couple who met on a film set," she says.

Not a chance, seconds Scott. "This is anything but that. You can interview us 25 years from now—and we'll prove it."

SUSAN SCHINDEHETTE
TOM CUNNEFF in Los Angeles

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