Michael Cuccione Dies

ByABC News
January 16, 2001, 1:09 PM

Jan. 16 -- Michael Cuccione, a star on the MTV boy-band spoof show 2gether, has died of collapsed lungs brought on by pneumonia. He was 16.

Cuccione, who had battled Hodgkin's disease as a child, played Jason "Q.T." McKnight on the music cable channel series. He was one of five actor/singers who made up the fictional boy band.

The series had started out as a parody, but the group became an outright success. 2gether opened for Britney Spears on several dates this summer and enjoyed considerable air play with such tracks as "The Hardest Part Of Breaking Up (Is Getting Your Stuff Back)," "Say It Don't Spray It" and "That's When I'll Be Gone."

Pneumonia Followed Car Accident

Six weeks ago, Cuccione and his mother had been in an auto accident. He entered British Columbia's Children's Hospital shortly after for an operation to repair his diaphragm and eventually contracted pneumonia.

His uncle, Steve Cuccione, said the teen was expected to make a full recovery when he entered the hospital. But weeks later, he was still unable to breath without a respirator.

His lungs were weak from the chemotherapy he endured to fight Hodgkin's disease as a child, Steve Cuccione said.

"He beat cancer," he said. "He was cancer-free for six years. But unfortunately the effects of the cure came back to haunt him."

"He fought gallantly," said Michael's mother, Gloria Cuccione. "He was in a lot of pain.

"I didn't realize how much he was suffering because he hid it with a smile. I think God knew he was suffering too much."

Michael's family father, brother, sister and mother gathered at his bedside.

2gether Tops 'N Sync

2gether's second album, 2gether Again, released late last summer, sold more than 42,000 copies in its first week, landing the CD at No. 26 on the Billboard album chart

2gether's single "The Hardest Part Of Breaking Up (Is Getting Your Stuff Back)" managed to sneak ahead 'N SYNC's "It's Gonna Be Me" on the charts in early September. Many compared their success to the Monkees, a 1960s TV creation that briefly rivaled the Beatles.