Michael Mantenuto Dies; Disney Star Was 35

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Michael Mantenuto, the actor best known for his role in the Disney film Miracle, has passed away at the age of 35.

Early reports indicate that Mantenuto took his own life.

Michael Mantenuto Photo

A former college hockey player, Mantenuto joined the military after his Hollywood career came to an end.

His death was reported by Col. Guillaume "Will" Beaurpere, the group commander of the U.S. Army's 1st Special Forces Group.

That unit issued a statement confirming that Mantenuto was found dead by authorities in Des Moines, Washington.

Baurpere wrote in the statement:

"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."

There's been no word on the circumstances that led up to Mantenuto's tragic decision to take his own life.

Michael Mantenuto Miracle Image

A standout on the University of Maine hockey team, after college Mantenuto opted to take up acting rather than attempt to enter the NHL.

His skills on the ice helped him land the role of the free-spirited Jack O'Callahan in Miracle, one of the most beloved sports films of recent years.

The movie tells the tale of the 1980 US Olympic hockey team, who shocked the world by defeating the heavily-favored Russian team.

The game came to be known as the Miracle on Ice, inspired by Al Michaels' now-iconic play-by-play call in the final seconds:

"Do you believe in miracles? Yes!"

The Americans went on to take home the gold after defeating Finland in the championship game following their epic upset of the USSR.

Michael Mantenuto Pic

The real-life O’Callahan injured his knee in an earlier exhibition game against the USSR and feared he would miss the Olympics.

However, as depicted in the movie, he went on to play in the legendary game in which the ragtag Americans shocked the world.

While Mantenuto's acting career never quite took off following that promising start, he did land roles in several other films.

He can be seen in the 2006 movie Dirtbags as well as the 2009 Matthew McConaughey vehicle Surfer, Dude.

But it's his role in the cultishly adored sports classic Miracle for which Manenuto will be best remembered.

Tributes to Mantenuto began pouring in on social media within minutes of the announcement of his death.

Miracle Poster

The actor was given a tribute during Wednesday night’s Anaheim-Edmonton NHL playoff game on NBCSN, as well as on social media.

Wrote one fan:

"R.I.P to Michael Mantenuto, Miracle is one of my favorite movies ever and we will always remember you as Jack O'Callahan."

A native of the great state of Massachusetts, in the town of Holliston, Manenuto is survived by his wife, the former Kati Vienneau.

He leaves behind a daughter, Ava, and a son, Leo. Michael is also survived by his father, Ed; and three sisters.

Our condolences go out to his friends and family.

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