“Put down the phone! Get your own personal superhero. Don’t try and get too personal with your ice cream man! You may drive them away!” The king of kid’s television throughout the 1990s, Danny Tamberelli has proven that his comedy only gets better with time as the former star of The Adventures of Pete & Pete is funnier than ever since teaming up with his longtime friend and costar, Michael Maronna., to launch The Adventures of Danny & Mike podcast. So, what’s Tamberelli’s secret for longevity in Hollywood and how did he get his start in the business over three decades ago?
An Italian American born and raised in Wyckoff, New Jersey, Daniel Paul Tamberelli came into this world on February 8, 1982. Having already shown a knack for performing and entertaining even as a toddler, Tamberelli was four years old when the freckle-faced redhead made his television debut on ABC’s daytime soap opera, Ryan’s Hope. Returning sporadically in the role over the next three years until 1989, Tamberelli gained enough experience on the daytime drama that he was then cast as Jackie Rodowsky on the live-action children’s television series, The Baby-Sitters Club, which ran from January to March 1990.
Although The Baby-Sitters Club was short lived, it was enough to boost Tamberelli’s popularity as he proved perfect for the role of Little Pete Wrigley on Nickelodeon’s new series of 60-second shorts known as The Adventures of Pete & Pete. Before long, the shorts picked up a broader audience and Nickelodeon gave the show its own half-hour spot in 1993, which boosted Tamberelli’s fame alongside his costar, Michael C. Maronna. However, Tamberelli quickly realized that his fame in Hollywood didn’t translate as well to his popularity on the playground, at least not at first.
“Getting to play this tough guy—I’m sure that played a part,” Tamberelli said of his Little Pete’s influence on his career and his time in middle school. “I didn’t really need to be super tough. I did get bullied when I moved, though. I thought I was going to be the cool kid, but they were like, ‘You’re the new kid. I don’t care if you’re on TV.’ I got razzed for a bit until I brought the class to the set of Pete & Pete and had them all on as extras, and then I got friends. That’s how I learned how to manipulate people at a young age.”
With The Adventures of Pete & Pete running for three seasons, Tamberelli was praised as the king of kid’s television and, after wrapping up the show in 1996, joined the cast of All That and Figure It Out. He voiced Arnold in The Magic School Bus and appeared in films like The Mighty Ducks and Igby Goes Down while balancing his schoolwork and living a normal life outside of Hollywood. “I didn’t develop any weird emotional attachment to being on TV. I’d go back to Jersey, back to normal school, because I only got tutored when I was on the set. I didn’t go to private school. All my life I’ve been going to regular, public school,” he said. “I definitely give my parents 80% of the credit. When I came home from working in L.A., my dad was like, ‘You have to get a regular job. You’re not going to be on TV forever. You’re going to have to know what it’s like to be a normal kid and have a job.’” Getting a job at the local pet store and then at the bagel shop, Tamberelli soon realized he wanted less to do with Hollywood and more to do with his normal life back at home.
Amid his growing fame, Tamberelli appeared in a variety of television commercials for various toys and was assured he could easily find another starring television role when he stepped out of the spotlight to be a “normal kid” and go to college. “All my friends were going to college and I wanted to be a normal kid,” Tamberelli said of his decision. “I was like, ‘Eh, I don’t want to be involved in that scene anymore. It was important for me to just feel like I was getting a full—not education—a full life experience. You can always try to do bigger things, but if you miss 18 to 22, you miss 18 to 22. You’re not getting it back.”
Having already shown an interest in music on an episode of Pete & Pete when Iggy Pop accidentally blew Tamberelli’s guitar amp, Tamberelli pursued his interests in music and enrolled at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts where he earned his bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary arts with a focus on music performance and booking management. With his degree in hand, he picked up his guitar and joined the rock band Jounce as their bassist and vocalist. In 2006, the band released their self-titled debut album and, three years later, released These Things. During this time, Tamberelli also played bass for the folk band, Every Good Boy.
Tamberelli continued making music and tried his hand at writing comedy before he returned to acting in 2013 as the voice of Jimmy De Santa in Grand Theft Auto V. Then, in 2014, he gave fans exactly what they wanted when he reunited with Michael Maronna to launch their podcast, The Adventures of Danny and Mike. “We had done some Pete & Pete reunions prior to The Splat being invented in 2011 or 2012,” Tamberelli said, “so, that was when we started hanging out again. That’s when we decided to do a podcast.” Luckily, the podcast has been a big enough hit that the show is still on the air with TeenNick even airing reruns of The Adventures of Pete & Pete, which means Tamberelli has earned another group of younger fans. “We’re happy! We don’t mean this in a mean way, but it’s kind of like, ‘Yeah, it’s about time!’” Tamberelli said of the reruns. “Adolescence and growing up and being around while the shows were actually on TV was a very specific time in people’s lives. I don’t think there’s been anything really like it. That was a really cool time from 1990 to 1996 when Nickelodeon was churning out really cool, unique, different shows. I think it still resonates with people because they were so unique.”
With The Adventures of Pete & Pete finding a younger generation of audiences, the 35-year-old Tamberelli has found himself back in the spotlight and, much like his fans, he couldn’t be happier!