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GH’s Maurice Benard And Alum Ronnie Marmo On Battling Addiction

General Hospital fans may remember Ronnie Marmo as Ronnie Domestico, an undercover cop who arrived in Port Charles with partner Dante Falconeri to infiltrate the Corinthos-Morgan and Zacchara crime families. But Maurice Benard and Marmo like to call themselves the two Mos and fans will enjoy their Mother’s Day chat on the latest episode of the video podcast show, State Of Mind.

Maurice Benard And Ronnie Marmo: It’s A Hard Knock Life

Benard (Sonny) asked about Marmo’s roots and his friend joked at first before getting real. “I was born in Brooklyn but moved to Jersey when I was 6. Nobody sounded like me in Jersey. The first day of kindergarten, I had Converse shoes, thick jeans with kneepads, a white T-shirt, a brown leather jacket, and a comb in my back pocket. I walk into kindergarten and all the other kids are looking at me like something out of a movie. I was like, ‘See ya later, Ma’ [gives the peace sign] and all the other kids were looking at me, holding onto their parent’s legs.

“So when my dad left,” he continued, “I was about 11 or 12 years old, and the 16-year-olds in my neighborhood became my heroes because my mom was working 85 hours a week and I went from ultra supervision to none overnight.” The actor recalled how that played out. “Suddenly, I am hanging out with these 16-year-olds and I’m 12, and they are like, ‘Ronnie, go steal that pack of cigarettes for us. If you do, we will give you a little toke.’ Then I took all the information I got from the 16-year-olds to the 12-year-olds and they are like, ‘Wow! How do you know all that?’ So I became the leader of the 12-year-olds.”

A dark path unfolded before him. “I would say that by the time I was 14, I dropped out of school by the eighth grade. Next thing you know I was dealing in ‘pharmaceuticals.’ I had a beautiful Corvette that I parked around the street. I wasn’t even old enough to drive. I didn’t even have a driver’s license and I was making a couple of thousand a day.”

The Great Escape

*Trigger Alert. Frank discussion on drug use.

The tough-guy actor showed his vulnerable side. “I ended up smoking crack. It was actually a time in my life where I got raided. My house got busted. I was just a kid. I was taking ammonia and cooking cocaine and making crack, making rocks, and smoking it day and night, locking myself in my bedroom and my mother was working, so nobody had an eye on me. It was out of control. I became my best customer because it really got out of hand.

“On the streets, I would do crazy stuff but then I would go home and write poetry,” Marmo continued. “I was an artist but I didn’t know what that was. I didn’t know how to label it. It got really dark. Guns and all that stuff and writing it all out. My mom would take me to the theater at 18 or 19 years old. And she would see that I would light up and she would say, ‘You should do that’ and I would say, ‘I could never do that. People watching and everything,’ and she would say ‘But you love it. Look at you.’”

When she passed away at 53, Marmo took a chance on his dream. “The first time I walked out on stage. I’ll never forget it. I was 24. It was a full house. And it happened. I was like OMG. I am going to do this for the rest of my life. It took my mom dying for me to have the balls to do it.”

The Path To Port Charles

In Jersey, Marmo befriended Vanessa Marcil (ex-Brenda, GH), who was dating Tyler Christopher (ex-Nikolas, GH) at the time. It was their friendship that led him to Los Angeles. It was Marcil that helped him get his SAG card with a role on 90210 and an under-five role as Jax’s limo driver on General Hospital that garnered his spot in the Actor’s Union. But it was Bob Guza who was responsible for the role that changed everything, he explained.

“Guza calls me into the office and says, ‘Listen to me. You know who Serpico is?” And I said that I love Serpico.” He explained what Guza had in mind. “He said I have been wanting to write this part but I didn’t have the right actor. I think I have the right actor. I want you to do it. I am going to write the part.’

“That is who Ronnie Domestico was based on, Serpico. He said ‘Give me a month.’ They called me up a month later and said ‘You start on Monday.’ I said, ‘How many episodes?’ They said, ‘Five.’ I did a 150. Which was a huge blessing. I was on for three years.”

Getting Real As Lenny Bruce And More

More recently, Ronnie Marmo has written and starred in the highly acclaimed “I’m Not A Comedian…I Am Lenny Bruce” touring nationally with Joe Mantegna onboard as director. He shared his inspiration for the play with Benard. “I fell in love with him. The love he has for his mom. The love he has for his daughter. His addiction. So many parallels. In my play, I start dead naked on the toilet and it doesn’t let up for 90 minutes. I just did my 392nd performance of this one-man show. It is becoming a national show. I am very proud of it. I wrote it. I am starring in it. Joe [Mantegna] is more involved than ever.”

The two Mos covered so much more in the hour-long episode of State Of Mind including his early days in Jersey, his road to sobriety, the spiritual philosophy that keeps him grounded, golfing with Tyler Christopher, rooming with Vanessa Marcil, later staying with Christopher and Derk Cheetwood (ex-Max, GH) in a studio apartment, how he missed out on playing Dante, doing scenes with James Franco, and the loyalty of General Hospital fans who still support him in everything he does today.

Not forgetting that the episode would air on Mother’s day, the two old friends talked about Marmo’s mom, Rosie, and her influence on his life and life path, how he met his current fiancée, Janelle, and Benard talked about his wife, Paula, and his daughters and their support throughout the years. For the entire episode, click here.

Fans can follow Ronnie Marmo on Twitter and Instagram or can check out his official website. Follow Maurice Benard on Twitter, Instagram, or State of Mind. If you or someone in your family is suffering from drug addiction and you need help, you can contact NIDA or the National Drug Helpline at (844) 289-0879.

General Hospital (GH) airs weekdays on ABC. Check your local listings for airtimes. For more about what’s coming up in Port Charles, check out all the latest that’s been posted on General Hospital spoilers, and for an in-depth look at the show’s history, click here.

 


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Published by
Sherrie E. Smith
Tags: general hospital Maurice Benard Ronnie Marmo

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