was born Stefano Ernesto Bonino on February 1, 1957. An only child,
show business was already an important part of his family. His
Bonino, was an enormously successful singer of pop and
jazz standards in Italy. He earned the nickname "Mister
Swing" and toured Latin America in 1947 before moving to the United
States and pursuing his career in the nightclubs of New York, Chicago and
While on tour in America, Ernesto met Roslyn (Roz) Vallero, a professional actress and acting teacher. According to one article, Steve credited his mother with believing in him and giving him a lot of encouragement, getting him his first commercial work at the age of eight. While growing up he apparently had some interest in playing football professionally, but with so much show business in his blood it seemed he was destined for entertainment. An article in Teen Beat magazine (January 1977) quoted Steve as saying he inherited all of his family’s talents except for his mom’s ability as a dancer.
His last name lent itself to a variety of nicknames, including "The Bone." When asked "Do you have a nickname?" in 16 Magazine (August 1977), he was quoted as saying, "At camp the guys called me ‘Snoopy’ - I always wore ‘Snoopy’ t-shirts. Besides that, they also called me ‘Banana’ because of my last name."
Steve auditioned for and was accepted to the High School of Music and Art in Manhattan, New York as a voice major. He then enrolled in college at The Leonard Davis Center for the Performing Arts at The City College of New York, as a voice / acting major. It was also reported that he joined the West Side Actor’s Company where he became friends with fellow member Robby Benson. Like John and Cosie, Steve performed on stage, debuting in Child's Play at the Studio Arena Theater in Buffalo, New York during their 1972-73 season. He also appeared off-Broadway in a production of Arnold Borget’s Fire in the Mindhouse, as well as Innocent Thoughts and Harmless Intentions at the Circle Theater in New York. In Los Angeles, he sang and acted in the play Salome as part of the Mark Taper Forum Lab and in the musicals Man of La Mancha and I Love My Wife with the San Bernardino Civic Light Opera.
In 1975, Steve made his first film appearance in the Robert Redford thriller 3 Days of the Condor, playing a smart-alecky kid in an elevator who presses all the buttons, elongating an already dramatically intense scene between Redford and Max Von Sydow.
According to a Teen Beat magazine article (January 1977), Steve came to The Kids from C.A.P.E.R. in an interesting way: "It seems that one of his good friends had already gotten the part of P.T. when he told Steve about the show, thinking it would be neat if the two of them could work together. Steve’s agent arranged an audition. At 10:30 a.m. Steve walked into Don Kirshner’s office, by 1 p.m. he had been cast in the role of P.T. and was packing to go to California and start shooting. Meanwhile Steve’s friend decided to take another job, so their friendship remained intact and everyone was happy." This story turns out to be true for the most part . . . actor and musician Craig Wasson was offered the role first and turned it down, but recommended that the producers audition his friend Steve for the role!
It was a wise decision on the part of the producers! Steve appealed to a lot of fans as P.T., who acted as the charismatic narrator of the wacky proceedings and, as such, became the audience’s direct connection to the happenings on the show. (When asked on his Facebook page what P.T. stands for, Steve replied, "I asked the producers of C.A.P.E.R. what P.T. stood for when I first got the part. They said 'Whatever you want it to mean.' Based on that, I leave it up to you to have it mean whatever you'd like it to.") Steve was quoted in one Teen Magazine article (December 1976) as saying, "P.T. is more me than I am. In other words, in real life I’m really dead and bland, but when I go out in front of the camera, I portray the me I’d like to see." As the youngest Kid (both on the show and in real life,) Steve brought an incredible amount of energy and enthusiasm to the role which came across wonderfully on screen.
Fans were also able to see Steve on TV at the height of his C.A.P.E.R. popularity in the television series Eight is Enough. In the episode Hit and Run he played Michael Thompson, a very cool kid (he even got to drive a gold Corvette!) who asked Elizabeth to the prom, unaware that she had also been asked by two other suitors. Of course, when all three show up to escort her to the dance, comedy ensues! (It's funny to note that Cosie Costa was seen dating Elizabeth on an episode of Eight is Enough just a month before!)
In the June 1977 issue of Tiger
Beat Star confirmed for one fan that Steve had made an appearance in the
sitcom Phyllis, playing a bass player in Bess' husband's band.
Bess was married towards the very end of the series (to a guy named Mark,
played by actor / musician Craig Wasson,
whom you'll recall was Steve's friend who was originally cast for the role
of P.T.!) Steve appeared as Charlie, a member of Mark's band, in the
last two episodes, The Apartment, and And Baby Makes Six.
Steve remembered working with Cloris Leachman even after the series was
over. "I had a chance to work with Cloris Leachman writing a
musical about the life of Isadora Duncan. Cloris loved a song I
wrote called 'Isadora Danced' and worked with me for several
weeks to attempt to write a stage play about the subject.
Unfortunately it fizzled out, but she is a super fun and talented lady and
After C.A.P.E.R. was officially cancelled, Tiger Beat magazine reported about Steve in one article (May 1977) saying: "Since C.A.P.E.R. left the air, he's been spending most of his time writing his own compositions! Steve’s also been keeping in shape! He works out often -- by playing football, baseball, or just fixing things around the house!"
But Steve also worked in time for acting, appearing at the end of 1977 in a television remake of the holiday classic It’s a Wonderful Life; the Marlo Thomas made-for-TV movie It Happened One Christmas (which also featured former C.A.P.E.R. actor Robert Emhardt!) Just over two weeks later, Steve was bravely battling killer arachnids in the Alan Landsburg-produced TV movie, Tarantulas: The Deadly Cargo. Oddly enough, he is listed in the credits as playing a character named "Spud," but in actuality his character is called Steve throughout. He plays an uncharacteristically nerdish young man in the film but ends up being about the only person who seems to know how to get people out of a locked warehouse!
Steve had a few more acting credits to his name over the next few years, including an appearance on the sitcom One Day at a Time in November 1978. In the two-part episode entitled Jealousy, he played Lee, a member of a band fronted by Greg Evigan, whom Julie and Barbara are fighting over (Barbara is dating Greg Evigan's character but when Julie joins the band it's clear she has a stronger connection with the lead singer than her younger sister.)
Steve also appeared in the highly acclaimed made-for-TV movie Friendly Fire in April 1979, which starred Carol Burnett in a rare dramatic turn (and it should be noted that Cosie Costa made an appearance in the film as well!) His last acting credit was for the 1980 comedy film Gorp, an outrageous camp comedy starring former Saturday morning competitor Michael Lembeck (Kaptain Kool himself!) and Dennis Quaid. His character, Batshit (so named because he gets a container of brown liquid dumped all over him during the film's wacky proceedings,) is actually the most sensitive in the movie!
But music always seemed to be Steve’s true passion and music is what he has concentrated on for most of his career. This was evident even back in 1976, when Tiger Beat magazine (October 1976) reported: "Steve Bonino is the writer of the group! He loves song writing and he’s really an accomplished musician. He plays the bass, guitar, keyboards and percussion!" His credits in the field of music are long and impressive, including vocals on albums by Screaming Jay Hawkins and Francis X and composing the music score for the video release Venus Flytrap in 1987 and original songs for two 2003 films from Indigo Entertainment entitled Maximum Thrust and Sexy Movie.
Steve made an appearance on The Arsenio Hall Show, filling in as a bassist / vocalist with the German band Avtograph and has done work for Los Angeles-based public television station KCET as a guitarist / vocalist with the original band he co-founded called Tomorrow’s Game. Steve also performed guitar accompaniment for KCET specials with Barbie Benton and a Jacques Brel revue, as well as doing session vocal work for television shows on NBC, HBO and The Playboy Channel.
But there’s nothing like live performance when it comes to music, and Steve has maintained an active career performing with cover bands such as Gypsy Beggars and City Lights, and the original bands Kharma Dogs, One By One, Black Spring, Lucid Dreaming and Native Language.
Steve currently performs with the popular cover band The Trip, which, including Steve on bass, consists of members Erik Johnson (guitar), Steve Fazio (guitar) and Mike Lewis (drums). The group were finalists in the 2009 GigMasters Jingle Contest and have also won the title of "Best Rock Cover Band in the USA" two years in a row! They perform regularly around Southern California in venues such as the Salt Creek Grille in Dana Point and both The Whitehouse and The Sandpiper in Laguna Beach, and are also available to hire for weddings, parties and private events!
Steve has launched a new website and has now released his debut album, Peace Rocks, which is available from CD Baby and iTunes! The songs on the album are an interesting mix of rock and progressive rock with a little pop flavoring sprinkled in, while the lyrics are poignant, clever and meaningful.
Steve is such a versatile songwriter and performer, we know you'll find the variety of music he offers quite impressive! So be sure to visit Steve's site and let him know what you think . . . he'd love to hear from you!
Go to Steve's NBC Biography Page
Go to Steve's Fast Facts Page
Go to our Exclusive Q&A with Steve
Contact us via C.A.P.E.R. E-mail (the next best thing to C.A.P.E.R. Band!)