Michael Mantenuto, who co-starred in Disney’s Miracle about the U.S. hockey team’s “Miracle on Ice” win over the Soviets in the 1980 Olympics, has died. He was 35. Police is Des Moines, IA, say they found Mantenuto dead Monday of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
His death was announced by Col. Guillaume Beaurpere, commander of the Army Special Forces unit in which Mantenuto served after his brief acting career. “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,” Beaurpere said in a news release.
Born May 13, 1981, in Holliston, MA, Mantenuto played hockey from an early age. He played briefly for the University of Maine before landing the Miracle role. In the film he co-starred as defenseman Jack O’Callahan, who brawls with a teammate during Team USA’s first practice over an old college hockey beef. The real-life O’Callahan injured his knee in an exhibition game against the USSR and feared he would miss the Olympics. But, as depicted in the movie, he went on to play in the legendary game in which the ragtag Americans came from behind to upset the powerhouse Soviets. Team USA went on to beat Finland for the gold medal on home ice in Lake Placid, NY.
After Miracle, which won the 2004 Espy Award for Best Sports Movie, Mantenuto appeared in the 2006 telepic Dirtbags and 2008 Michael McConaughey feature Surfer, Dude. He later joined the U.S. Army’s 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne).
Mantenuto, who was given a tribute during Wednesday night’s Anaheim-Edmonton NHL playoff game on NBCSN, is survived by his wife, Kati; a daughter, Ava; a son, Leo; his father, Ed; and three sisters.