Former actor Michael Mantenuto, best known for his role in Disney's Miracle, died on Monday. He was 35 years old. Mantenuto was reportedly found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in Washington by the Des Moines Police Department, according to local Washington news station WCVB-TV. According to People, his death has officially been ruled a suicide by King County medical examiner’s office in Seattle.
Mantenuto, a former college hockey player who played for the University Of Maine, starred opposite Kurt Russell in 2004's Miracle, which tells the true story of the 1980 U.S. men's Olympic hockey team. The actor portrayed fun-loving defenseman Jack O’Callahan, who helped the U.S. defeat the heavily favored Russians in a come behind win in a game dubbed "The Miracle on Ice."
After Miracle, Mantenuto would go on to appear in two films, 2008's Surfer, Dude and the 2006 TV movie Dirtbags. He would later join the U.S. Army Special Forces, and his acting career fell by the wayside.
No doubt, however, that Miracle is his best known work, especially for '90s children who grew up on a steady diet of Disney movies — which just serves to make the entire situation that much more tragic.
Col. Guillaume "Will" Beaurpere, the commander for Mantenuto’s 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) was the one who publicly announced his passing. He paid tribute to the late actor on Facebook writing, "Those of you that knew Mike will remember him for his passionate love for his family and his commitment to the health of the force."
Mantenuto is survived by his wife Kati Vienneau, daughter Ava, and son Leo. He will be dearly missed.