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'Miracle' Star Michael Mantenuto Dies At 35 (Photo)

Actor Michael Mantenuto was found dead in his car on April 24, after reportedly shooting himself in the head.

Mantenuto, who starred in Disney's "Miracle," a 2004 film about the 1980 Olympic U.S. men's hockey team's surprising underdog win against the heavily favored Russian team, was 35 years old, reports TMZ.

The actor died in Des Moines, Washington, and the coroner confirmed to TMZ that Mantenuto died by suicide from a gunshot.

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Mantenuto is survived by his wife, Kati, daughter, Ava, and son, Leo, reports the Daily Mail.

The actor had a short-lived career in Hollywood and is credited in two other movies -- 2006 TV movie "Dirtbags" and "Surfer, Dude" from 2008 -- following his breakout role as Jack O'Callahan, a U.S. teammate who injures his knee but comes back to the ice rink to play against Russia, helping his team secure the win, notes Variety. Kurt Russell and Patricia Clarkson starred alongside him.

O'Callahan was based off a real player by the same name who went on to play for the NHL's Chicago Blackhawks and New Jersey Devils.

"Very sad, way too young," O'Callahan said of the actor. "Condolences and love to Kati and the family."

After his time on screen, Mantenuto enlisted in the military and served in the U.S. Army's First Special Forces under Col. Guillaume Beaurpere, notes TMZ.

"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 wrote in a press release announcing Mantenuto's death.

Mantenuto played hockey at the University of Maine and told the Boston Globe in 2004 that it was both his talent for the acting and ability to play the sport that landed him the starring role in "Miracle."

"With this movie, I was able to combine the different parts of my life that were important to me," Mantenuto told the media outlet at the time. "To be able to combine the acting, all the expression, the hockey, and be able to segue from one career that I loved so much to another where I wanted my life to go ... It was pretty special."

Mantenuto's high school hockey coach said the former star player had a lot of the same positive attributes as the character he played in the film.

"What you see on the screen -- that's what he was like," said former Holliston High School hockey coach Peter Torilli. "He was tough and determined, and he was a heck of a player, too. He was very confident in himself. I didn't know he wanted to be an actor then, but I definitely knew he wanted to play."

Sources: Daily Mail, TMZ, Boston Globe, Variety / Photo credit: Molingle/Wikimedia Commons, Sandra Lenz/Instagram

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