Michael with Kim Cattrall
There’s something sexy about a man fighting smoldering fire, but a real firefighter who turned up the heat on Sex and the City? Now you’re talking!
Mike fighting a fire in Brooklyn, NY
Michael Lombardi’s dreams were never small. As a kid, he wanted to be a fireman; this desire catapulted him into an elite unit, Rescue 5, within the Fire Department of New York City. As a young man, Mike worked hard to be physically fit; his striking appearance presented an opportunity to pose in the infamous FDNY calendar, which then led to being voted one of People Magazine’s “Men @ Work: The Most Sexiest Men Alive.” And just when things couldn’t possibly get better, the most popular show on television, Sex & The City, decided to cast him as Ricky, Samantha Jones’s firefighter boy toy in the Season 3 premiere episode, “Where There's Smoke.”
The cover that started the controversy.
But don’t be mistaken; Michael’s life wasn’t always glitz and glamour. With every success came struggle, including a very public controversy over the role he played on HBO’s hit series. A part that appeared relatively innocent was turned into a paparazzi-induced scandal that almost cost him his job. Thankfully, Mike received permission from the FDNY at the onset of his acting debut, and was dismissed of any wrongdoing. Unfortunately for us ladies, his decision to stay with the fire department squelched the flames for future television and movie roles.
The World Trade Center
Then September 11th happened and his unit, Rescue 5, lost eleven men, the most of any firehouse in the city. Because Mike was on the dive team, he was training in Queens on that tragic day and was not on his regular schedule. The devastating loss he and his brothers endured not only brought on survivor’s guilt, but a steadfast mission to recover the bodies of the fallen. Only one was found. Due to a medical condition that developed during recovery efforts, Michael had to retire from the job he so longingly dreamt of as a kid.
I asked Michael what he misses most about firefighting and his response was an immediate, “Everything.” When asked to be more specific, he pointed out that the camaraderie was unlike any other he’s experienced and the adrenaline rush he got when fighting fires was indescribable. I also inquired about the Hollywood days to which he said, “That was all in good fun. Memories I’ll have forever. But mostly, a lot of laughs.”