December 4, 1985
Bronx, New York, USA
In just eight episodes of a hit reality show, Ronnie Magro proved he was both a lover and a fighter. The native New Yorker spent a summer in Seaside Heights, NJ to star on "Jersey Shore" (2009- ), a reality program that followed eight twenty-something Italian-Americans partying wildly for MTV's cameras. In a house full of over-the-top characters, Magro stood out from the rest of the cast for his intimidating physique, hot temper, and fist-pumping energy on the dance floor. Yet no one fell harder for him than fellow housemate Sammi "Sweetheart" Giancola. Magro broke his personal rule of not falling in love at the Shore the minute he laid his eyes on Giancola and pursued a relationship with her. His hotheaded personality and her constant need for attention often made it a challenge for the duo to work things out, yet by the end of the series' breakout first season, Magro was one-half of the most dynamic pairings on reality television.
Ronald Ortiz-Magro hailed from Bronx, NY and was raised in a traditional Italian-American household. On his audition tape for MTV's "Jersey Shore," a reality series that documented a group of young and outspoken Italian-Americans living together at the New Jersey shore, Magro revealed his No. 1 rule: Do not fall in love at said Shore. He moved in to the beachfront house in the summer of 2009 where he met his fellow cast members, which included Sammi "Sweetheart" Giancola, a college student from Hazlet, NJ, and Staten Island fitness club manager Michael "The Situation" Sorrentino. A love triangle soon brewed between Magro, Giancola and Sorrentino, but she made her choice clear by the third episode. Magro and Giancola's mutual attraction broke his rule while her decision broke Sorrentino's heart. It didn't take long, however trouble to brew. Fueled by his temper, her jealousy, and lots of alcohol, the couple appeared to have split during the "Jersey Shore" reunion special that aired in January 2010, where Giancola walked off the set in tears.
Magro's temper reached its boiling point during an episode filmed in September 2009. "Jersey Shore" cameras caught the altercation between him and another man that started on the Boardwalk, continued inside the cast's favorite nightclub Karma, and back out on the street where Seaside Heights police arrested Magro for aggravated assault. He later explained to People magazine that locals often targeted the cast and the man he assaulted had taunted them all night. Charges were later dismissed but not until after Magro spent a night behind bars. It was the second most talked about fight of the series, following an August 2009 incident where Magro's housemate Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi was punched in the face by a male bar patron. Such violent behavior and the cast's frequent use of the terms "Guido" and "Guidette" incited boycotts from Italian-American organizations such as UNICO National and advertisers including Dell and Domino's Pizza. MTV defended "Jersey Shore" and said the cast neither represented nor portrayed a negative image of Italian-Americans. Despite the overwhelming criticism the show received, "Jersey Shore" brought in huge ratings for the network and continued for several successful seasons, including one spent in Italy - a decision not viewed favorably by the hosting country, which appeared to have as many issues with the cast's behavior as the U.S.
By Marc Cuenco