Michael Galeota, who starred as a teenager on Disney Channel’s series The Jersey and CBS’ Bailey Kipper’s P.O.V., died Sunday. He was 31. His family said he died peacefully at home but offered no details.
“He was a precious gift – loving, giving, compassionate, joyful and intelligent,” his family wrote in a GoFundMe post seeking help with funeral costs. “A great inspiration for anyone that heard his genuine, humble, witty and joyful voice, or experienced his smile, laughter and love for just a moment. To know him was to love him.”
Galeota was kindergarten age when he landed his first TV role in a couple of episodes of HBO’s 1990 series The Baby-Sitters Club. The Long Island native would go on to do a TV movie, an episode of ER and the 1995 Daniel Stern feature romp Bushwhacked before landing his first starring role as the title character in Bailey Kipper’s P.O.V. The Saturday morning show, which ran for 13 episodes in 1996, centered on an electronics whiz who builds an elaborate system of mini cameras to spy on his family to make a video diary of their lives.
That same year he starred with his younger brother Jimmy Galeota in the family film Clubhouse Detectives, about a group of neighborhood kids out to solve a murder. He went on to guest in an episode of Profiler and played a young Billy Thomas in the Ally McBeal pilot. Galeota also appeared in the features Can’t Be Heaven and Missing Brendan and the WB’s The Nightmare Room.
All that led to his being cast in The Jersey. The Disney Channel series, which aired more than 50 episodes over five seasons starting in 1999, followed four teenagers who discover a magical football jersey that transports them into the bodies of professional athletes. Galeota played Nick Lighter on the show, which featured a different pro athlete from myriad sports every episode; guests included Michael Strahan, Tony Hawk, Peyton Manning, Michael Andretti, Leila Ali and Junior Seau.