Michael Cuccione Dies

ByABC News

Jan. 16, 2001 -- 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.

"We basically have two types of fans right now," Kevin Farley, who plays 2tgether member Doug Linus, told the MTV Web site. "Those who like our music, and those who get the joke. We live in both worlds at the same time, and that's fine with us."

As for his role as McKnight, Cuccione once said pretty girls inspired him to dance. "In my spare time I like to sneak into clubs and try to collect phone numbers from as many pretty girls as possible," he said.

He was a singer, songwriter, actor and in 1996 helped form the Michael Cuccione Foundation, which has raised $250,000 for B.C. Children's Hospital.

In April 1997, Michael, then 12 years old, met Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien in Ottawa to help raise awareness about cancer.

A prayer service for Cuccione will be held Wednesday; followed by a funeral Thursday morning. His parents have requested that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Michael Cuccione Foundation for Cancer Research: P.O. Box 31081, #8-2929 St. John's St., Port Moody, British Columbia, V3H 4T4.

ABC Radio's Andrea Dresdale and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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