"I'm just a bit of a crybaby," he told Dr. Oz. "I'm sorry about the emotion"

By Lanford Beard
Updated March 17, 2015 04:45 PM
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On Wednesday’s episode of The Dr. Oz Show, Tony Danza exposes a deeply vulnerable, emotional side of himself.

Despite playing for laughs in his star-making turns on Who’s the Boss? and Taxi, the actor has tragedy in his past: More than 20 years ago, he was nearly killed in a terrifying ski accident, and he finally shares what was weighing on his mind that day.

“The reason I fell is because I lost my mother,” Danza, now 63, tells Dr. Mehmet Oz.

He continues, explaining, “What happened is, I lost my mother in June. I was thinking it was the first Christmas, and I had her on my mind.”

Distracted by the devastating loss, Danza fell and sustained injuries that put him in critical condition for nearly a month. At the time, his publicist told PEOPLE, he was “lucky to be alive.”

More than two decades later, Danza still struggles to maintain composure while saying, “Every Christmas you go through this thing where you list the people that aren’t there.”

Still, Danza – who calls himself “a bit of a crybaby” in the interview – took an important lesson from the accident and his own grief.

Says Danza, “I had a great therapist who said to me one of the greatest lines of all time – he said, ‘You’ve gotta take part in your own recovery.’ And I got that.”