According to THR, actor and soldier Michael Mantenuto has died from an apparent suicide, just a few weeks before what would have been his 36th birthday. He was found in his car on Monday, April 24 and his death was ruled to be from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Mantenuto was born May 13, 1981 in Holliston Massachusetts. His mother was a therapist and his father an assistant principal and hockey coach. As soon as he could walk, his father began to teach him to ice skate and play hockey, while his three sisters learned to figure skate. When Mantenuto was twelve, his father nearly died from a stroke. He attended the same high school his father previously worked at and played hockey for three years for the Walpole Junior Stars in the Eastern Junior Hockey League.
Recruited to play hockey for the University of Maine, Mantenuto was roommates with future Detroit Red Wings player Todd Jackson. When there was a coaching change a year later, Mantenuto transferred to the University of Massachusetts.
Mantenuto was trapping eels on a fishing boat when he auditioned for the Disney biopic Miracle, which told the true story of the Miracle on Ice – the surprise American win for men’s hockey team in the 1980 Olympics. The film starred Kurt Russell as coach Herb Brooks and was directed by Gavin O’Connor. In order to make the hockey scenes more accurate, O’Connor held auditions all over the United States and Canada for real hockey players – like Mantenuto.
During his audition, another player started picking on several others, including Mantenuto who responded by fighting with him. Mantenuto went to O’Connor later to apologize, but it turned out that his actions helped him secure the role of Jack O’Callahan, known for being “the first one to drop his gloves” and whose rivalry with teammate Rob McClanahan was included in the film. O’Callahan’s story was almost as exciting as the game itself – he injured his knee and could not play for most of the Olympics but returned for the final game against the Soviet Union, and helped his team secure their famous victory.
After Miracle, Mantenuto only had two more roles. In 2006 he played the role of Shafe in the made for TV movie Dirtbags along side Melissa Joan Hart. And in 2008 he had a small role in Surfer, Dude opposite Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson.
Mantenuto enlisted in the United States Military after Surfer, Dude. He was found Monday afternoon and his death was first announced earlier today by Col. Guillaume “Will” Beaurpere. Mantenuto is survived by his wife Kati and their two children.
R.I.P. Michael Mantenuto – May 13, 1981 – April 24, 2017