A former ice hockey player, Michael Mantenuto branched out in acting in 2004 when he was cast to portray Jack O'Callahan, defenseman of the 1980 Winter Olympics United States national team that upset the Soviet Union in the famous “Miracle on Ice” game, in Gavin O'Connor-directed biographical sports film, "Miracle," opposite Kurt Russell as the head coach Herb Brooks.
Afterwards, this 5' 11" sportsman-turned-actor with brown hair and blue eyes only made one television project, a new comedy series for FOX called "Dirtbags" (2006), alongside Balthazar Getty and Melissa Joan Hart.
Childhood and Family:
Son to Ed Mantenuto, who was the assistant principal and hockey coach at Holliston High School, and a therapist mother, Michael Mantenuto (last name is the past participle of the Italian verb "mantenere," which means "to maintain"), nicknamed “Manto,” was born on May 13, 1981 in Holliston, Massachusetts. He has three sisters.
His father, who is also a hall monitor at Algonquin Regional High School in Northborough, Massachusetts, and taught him how to skate and play hockey from the moment he could walk, suffered a near-fatal stroke in 1993 that left him temporarily paralyzed and mute for three years. After years of rehab, he was able to walk and talk (at a slower pace) again.
Mantenuto attended Holliston High School and played for the Walpole Junior Stars in the Eastern Junior Hockey League for three years. He then was recruited by Boston University, University of Maine, and University of New Hampshire, before ultimately deciding to join Maine in 2000, but ended up quitting due to a coaching change. He transferred to University of Massachusetts - Boston in 2001. He was roommates with UMaine Black Bears teammate Todd Jackson before transferring to UMass. Jackson was recruited by the Detroit Red Wings in 2004.
Mantenuto is also a proud father of a daughter.
From Hockey to Hollywood
“I was working on this fishing boat trapping eels before I got cast in this movie, so I felt like I was stepping off a boat and into a dream.” Michael Mantenuto (on being cast in "Miracle" (2004)).
A talented ice hockey player, Michael Mantenuto, who worked on a fishing boat in Gloucester, Massachusetts, took a chance to audition for "Miracle" (2004), the biographical sports film directed by Gavin O'Connor and written by Eric Guggenheim about the United States men's hockey team that won the gold medal in the 1980 Winter Olympics. During tryouts for the film, he got into a fight on the ice with another player who picked on him and other guys. He apologized to director Gavin O'Connor afterwards, to which Gavin responded, "No, that was good," and cast him as Jack O'Callahan, the defenseman dubbed "the first one to drop his gloves" and a member of the 1980 Winter Olympics United States national team that upset the Soviet Union in the famous “Miracle on Ice” game. The film that stars Kurt Russell as the head coach Herb Brooks won ESPY's Best Sports Movie as well as being nominated Critics Choice Award's Best Family Film (Live Action) and Golden Trailer's Best Animation/Family. Meanwhile, Mantenuto appeared as himself in that same year's 28-minute short documentary, "From Hockey to Hollywood: Actors' Journeys" (2004), alongside ice hockey greats Jim Craig, Mike "Rizzo" Eruzione, and Mark Johnson.
"It's always been my intention to pursue an acting career. Fortunately, my hockey background helped open the door for me to do that." Michael Mantenuto (on his movie debut in "Miracle" (2004)).
Two years after his film debut, Mantenuto co-starred with Balthazar Getty and Melissa Joan Hart in a new comedy series for FOX called "Dirtbags" (2006). As of October 2008, Mantenuto has not been involved in any film or television projects.