“Twas the day after Christmas, and all through the house, the Spirit had ended; it had all been doused. The ornaments were yanked from the tree with despair, while dad vacuumed pine needles from his rump.” The oldest of three children born and raised in Brooklyn, New York where his father worked as a fireman and his mother was a guidance counselor, Michael C. Maronna made his grand entrance into the world on September 27, 1977. Although the family didn’t have any ties to the entertainment industry, that didn’t matter as the youngster made his acting debut at five years old in his first of many television commercials. Adding in a handful of credits in sitcoms and soap operas, the freckle-faced redhead made his way to the Broadway stage before catching the biggest break of his career in the late 1980s and early 1990s when he was cast as the trombone-playing Pete Wrigley.
Balancing his junior high career at Hunter College High School in New York City with his blossoming career, Maronna was 12 years old when he was cast as “Big Pete” Wrigley opposite Danny Tamberelli in a new series of 60-second shorts called The Adventures of Pete and Pete on Nickelodeon. Much like the network anticipated, the shorts were a huge hit among younger audiences and spawned the first of five half-hour specials. In the meantime, Maronna cashed in on his growing fame and made his feature film debut in the 1990 blockbuster Home Alone where he played Macaulay Culkin’s on-screen older brother, Jeff. With Home Alone earning over $470 million at box offices worldwide, Maronna reprised his role as Jeff in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York before accepting Nickelodeon’s offer to star alongside Tamberelli in their own series, The Adventures of Pete and Pete, which debuted in 1993.
Maronna wrapped up The Adventures of Pete and Pete after three seasons in 1996 and finished up his time at Hunter College High School after a brief suspension during his senior year when he was caught setting his guitar on fire in one of the school’s hallways. After graduation, he enrolled at Purchase College of the State University of New York where he pursued his interests in filmmaking while snagging the role of a slacker named Stuart in a string of Ameritrade television ads. Earning a cult following for the commercials, Maronna was even invited to the Oval Office where he joined President Bill Clinton in a special comedy reel for the 2000 White House Correspondents’ Association dinner. However, not even a presidential nod could rekindle Maronna’s early stardom.
As a college student with a floundering acting career, Maronna discovered his interest in working behind the scenes and focused on the electrical side of film but wasn’t quite yet ready to give up on acting and auditioned for the part of Harry in Six Ways to Sunday in 1997. Although he lost the role, Maronna’s friendship with film director Adam Bernstein, whom Maronna had worked with on the set of The Adventures of Pete and Pete, worked in his favor when Bernstein hired Maronna to work behind the scenes in his first job as an electrician. Luckily, the opportunity was exactly what Maronna needed as he wrapped up the film and was accepted into the Theater Arts and Film Conservatory at SUNY-Purchase in Westchester County.Spending the next four years studying documentary film, Maronna graduated in 2001 with a new thirst for show business and snagged credits in romantic comedies like Slackers and 40 Days and 40 Nights as well as in television series like Law & Order in which he played a teenage killer. Still struggling to find his footing in front of the camera despite cameos in music videos for popular singles like “Whose Authority” and “All My Friends,” Maronna ventured into the independent film circuit with credits in What Alice Found and Le New Yorker before settling down behind the scenes and working on more notable projects like Sex and the City and Be Kind Rewind.
Amid his work behind the scenes, Maronna also kept in close contact with his longtime friend and costar, Danny Tamberelli, of The Adventures of Pete and Pete, which is what led the duo to rekindle their early fame by launching The Adventures of Danny & Mike podcast. Of course, it also helped that Danny was hurting for money as a struggling musician with his band Jounce and needed something to help pay the rent. “The podcast got started at the end of one month when Danny couldn’t make rent,” Maronna told The Washington Times. “On the 31st he said, ‘We should do this podcast.’ Five days later, we got Danny some rent money.”
The podcast was exactly what fans were looking for from Big Pete and Little Pete with The Adventures of Danny & Mike earning the duo enough money to keep Maronna in the spotlight and Tamberelli off the streets. Needless to say, the response was surprising to Maronna as fans clamored for more from the former Nickelodeon stars. “I think it’s pretty awesome. It’s a testament to the kind of show it was and how it affected people,” Maronna said of the response. “It affected me in a way that I’m forever grateful for and it’s nice to know that we’re not alone.”
Although The Adventures of Danny & Mike has been well received, it’s hard for Maronna to carve out time for more podcast episodes since he’s happily found work with NBC on the popular series, Shades of Blue, starring Jennifer Lopez and Ray Liotta. However, the 40-year-old is quick to say that monthly podcast episodes aren’t entirely out of the question… after all, the fans usually get what they ask for and they’re asking for more of Maronna and Tamberelli! “We would like to do the podcast regularly on a monthly basis, but we’re so damn busy,” he says. Until then, fans can catch Maronna on the latest episode of The Adventures of Danny & Mike or by taking a trip down memory lane for a marathon of The Adventures of Pete & Pete, which is still known as the greatest children’s show ever. Just listen closely, we can hear the theme song now… “Hey smiling strange. You looking happily deranged. Can you settle a sure bet? Or have you picked your target yet? Hey Sandy, ai, ai ai, Well, does your dog bite? Ai, ai, ai. Hey Sandy.”