January 28, 1914
Evanston, Illinois, U.S.
|Died||August 7, 1972
North Hollywood, California, U.S.
Cause of death
|Chapel of the Pines Crematory, Los Angeles|
|Spouse(s)||Vicky Lane (1948-1950)
Patricia Fenton (1956-1958)
Gale Bennett (1960-1965)
Thomas Neal (January 28, 1914 – August 7, 1972) was an American actor best known for appearing in the critically lauded film Detour, having a tryst with Barbara Payton and later committing manslaughter.
Born in Evanston, Illinois, Neal debuted on Broadway in 1935. In 1938, he first appeared in film in Out West with the Hardys, part of the Mickey Rooney "Hardy family" movie series. That same year, he received a law degree from Harvard University. While in college at Northwestern and Harvard Universities, Neal was a stand-out on the schools' boxing teams. He compiled a 44-3 (41 knockouts) ring record, having been coached by Henry Lamar.
Neal appeared in many low budget B-movies in the 1940s/1950s. In 1941 he starred with Frances Gifford in the Republic Pictures 15 episode serial, Jungle Girl. Perhaps his most memorable role was that of Al Roberts in the classic film noir Detour alongside Ann Savage. They went on to make five movies together.
Personal life and death
In 1951, he fought fellow actor Franchot Tone over their girlfriend in common, actress Barbara Payton. Neal inflicted a smashed cheekbone, a broken nose and a brain concussion upon Tone. After the incident, Tone and Payton married, and Neal had a difficult time finding work. He ended up supporting himself landscaping and gardening. Payton left Tone after only seven weeks and returned to the troubled Neal. Their relationship lasted four years.
Neal remarried almost immediately and in 1957 fathered a son, Tom Neal, Jr. His wife died the following year from cancer. In 1961, Neal was married for the third time, to Gale Bennett. Four years later, he shot her in the back of the head with a .45-caliber gun, killing her instantly. He was arrested and, although prosecutors sought the death penalty, he was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to ten years in prison, of which he served six years. On December 6, 1971, he was released on parole.
Less than a year later, Neal died of heart failure in North Hollywood, California at the age of 58 on August 7, 1972. He was cremated, and his ashes stored in the vault at the Chapel of the Pines Crematory in Los Angeles. His son appeared in one film, playing the role of Al Roberts in a 1992 independent remake of Detour.
|1938||Out West with the Hardys||Aldrich Brown|
|1939||Another Thin Man||Freddie Coleman|
|1939||Within the Law||Richard Gilder|
|1939||Prophet Without Honor||Uncredited||Short|
|1940||The Courageous Dr. Christian||Dave Williams|
|1941||Jungle Girl||Jack Stanton||Alternative title: Edgar Rice Burrough's Jungle Girl|
|1942||Bowery at Midnight||Frankie Mills|
|1943||She Has What It Takes||Roger Rutledge|
|1943||Behind the Rising Sun||Taro Seki|
|1944||Two-Man Submarine||Jerry Evans|
|1945||Detour||Al Roberts (Male lead)||Acclaimed film noir|
|1945||Crime, Inc.||Jim Riley||Alternative title: Crime Incorporated|
|1945||First Yank Into Tokyo||Major Steve Ross|
|1946||The Brute Man||Clifford Scott||Alternative title: The Brute|
|1947||The Case of the Baby Sitter||Russ Ashton|
|1948||Beyond Glory||Captain Henry Jason Daniels|
|1949||Bruce Gentry||Bruce Gentry||Alternative titles: Daredevil of the Skies
Bruce Gentry, Daredevil of the Skies
|1950||Call of the Klondike||Tom Mallory|
|I Shot Billy the Kid||Charley Bowdry|
|1951||Navy Bound||Joe Morelli|
|1953||The Great Jesse James Raid||Arch Clements|
|1958||The Last Hurrah||Tom - Mourner at Wake||Uncredited|
|1950||The Gene Autry Show||Breezy
|1951||Racket Squad||1 episode|
|Boston Blackie||2 episodes|
|1952||The Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok||Corby||1 episode|
|1958||Tales of Wells Fargo||Johnny Reno||1 episode|
|1959||Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer||Luke Lund||1 episode|
- Tom Neal at the Internet Movie Database
- Tom Neal at the Internet Broadway Database
- Tom Neal at Find a Grave