Danese was born in Hartsdale, New York. She was the 1970 Miss Pennsylvania World. Her acting career began in 1976 with a part in one episode of One Day at a Time. Her other television credits include roles on Serpico, Baretta, Three's Company, Kojak, Family, Hart to Hart, Starsky and Hutch and Charlie's Angels. In one of her few roles on the big screen, she played a prostitute named Vicky in Risky Business, the 1983 film starring Tom Cruise and Rebecca De Mornay.
Danese had a major role in three of the six Columbo episodes in which she appeared. These include the 1976 Columbo movie Fade in to Murder, 1978's Murder Under Glass, 1989's Murder, a Self Portrait, 1991's Columbo and the Murder of a Rock Star, 1994's Columbo: Undercover and, lastly in 1997, Columbo: A Trace of Murder. She was never the killer, but she helped plan the murder in the episode A Trace of Murder - 25th Anniversary Movie. She has the distinction of having acted in more episodes of Columbo than any other Actress (but not actor).
Danese met Peter Falk on the set of the movie Mikey and Nicky and became his second wife on December 7, 1977. They were married for 33 years until Falk's death on June 23, 2011. He had been suffering from Alzheimer's disease and pneumonia.