Tom Neal

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Tom Neal
Detour1.jpg
Ann Savage and Tom Neal in Detour (1945)
Born Thomas Carroll Neal, Jr.[1]
(1914-01-28)January 28, 1914
Evanston, Illinois, U.S.
Died August 7, 1972(1972-08-07) (aged 58)
North Hollywood, California, U.S.
Cause of death
Heart failure
Education Lake Forest Academy
Evanston Township High School
Alma mater Northwestern University
Occupation Actor
Years active 1938-1959
Spouse(s) Vicky Lane (m. 1948; div. 1950)
Patricia Fenton (m. 1956; died 1958)
Gale Bennett (m. 1960; died 1965)

Thomas Carroll "Tom" Neal, Jr. (January 28, 1914 – August 7, 1972), known professionally as Tom Neal, was an American actor and boxer best known for appearing in the critically lauded film Detour, having a tryst with Barbara Payton and later committing manslaughter.

Career[edit]

Born in Evanston, Illinois, Neal was one of three children born to banker Thomas, Sr. and Mayme Neal (née Martin). He had two older sisters, Mary Elizabeth and Dorothy Helen.[1] His great uncle was John Drew.[2] Neal and his sisters were raised in a spacious ten-room home in Chicago. He attended Lake Forest Academy and Evanston Township High School before enrolling at Northwestern University where he majored in mathematics.[3] During college, Neal played several sports and, for a time, competed in amateur boxing matches.[4] He was also a member the Sigma Chi fraternity and was active in the drama club.[3]

Neal dropped out of Northwestern after a year, and moved back to Chicago. He appeared in various stage productions in summer stock before making his way to New York City in 1933.[3] Neal made his Broadway debut in 1935. In 1938, he first appeared in film in Out West with the Hardys, part of the Mickey Rooney "Hardy family" movie series.

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[edit]

Neal was married three times and had one child. His first marriage was to actress and singer Vicky Lane whom he married in 1944. Lane divorced Neal in 1949 citing "mental and physical cruelty".[5]

In the early 1950s, Neal met actress Barbara Payton at a party. The two began dating but Payton ended the relationship after meeting and becoming engaged to actor Franchot Tone.[6] Despite her engagement, Payton began seeing Neal again.[7] On September 14, 1951, Neal, Payton and Tone made headlines after Neal got into a physical altercation with Tone over Payton in her front yard.[8][9] Neal beat Tone severely while Payton reportedly watched the fight. Tone suffered severe injuries, including a smashed cheekbone, a broken nose and a brain concussion for which he was hospitalized.[10] After he recovered, Tone and Payton married on September 28, 1951.[7] Payton left Tone after 53 days and returned to Neal.[11] Tone filed for divorce in March 1952 citing Payton with adultery.[12] Neal and Payton announced their engagement in May 1953 but eventually ended their relationship later that year.[13]

Shortly after their breakup, Neal married Patricia Fenton. His only child, Patrick Thomas Neal, was born in 1957. Fenton died the following year from cancer.[14] In 1992, Patrick Neal (who goes by the name Tom Neal, Jr.) appeared in one film, playing the role of Al Roberts in a 1992 independent remake of Detour.[15][16]

Later years and death[edit]

After his much publicized fight with Franchot Tone, Neal was blacklisted in Hollywood as was Payton.[11] He acted sporadically but became more known for his tumultuous on-and-off relationship with Payton. Neal and Payton attempted to capitalize on the interest in their relationship by starring together in the low budget Western The Great Jesse James Raid, in 1953. The film did reasonably well but did nothing to revitalize the couple's careers.[17] In June 1953, Neal and Payton accepted an offer to star in the touring production of The Postman Always Rings Twice. Their performances were largely panned and the tour ended in September 1953. Neal and Payton broke up for the final time in November 1953.[18]

With his acting career over, Neal moved to Palm Springs, California and became a gardener. He later started his own landscaping business.[11][19] In 1961, Neal was married receptionist Gale Bennett in Las Vegas. On April 2, 1965, police were summoned to the couple's Palm Springs home by Neal's attorney.[20] They discovered Bennett's body on the couch partially covered by a blanket with a gunshot wound in the back of her head. It was later determined that Bennett had been shot with a .45 caliber gun on April 1.[21] Neal, who was not at the home when police arrived, became an immediate suspect. He surrendered to police on April 3 and was indicted on one charge of murder on April 10.[22][23]

At his trial, Neal admitted that he and Bennett were separated at the time of her death but that her death was accidental. He testified that on April 1, he had returned to the couple's Palm Springs home from Chicago where he had been living to see if a reconciliation was possible.[24] Neal said the two began fighting after he accused Bennett of sleeping with other men. He claimed that Bennett pulled out a gun, held it to his head and the two began to struggle. During the ensuing struggle, Neal said that the gun accidentally discharged, killing Bennett. Although prosecutors sought the death penalty, a jury convicted Neal of involuntary manslaughter on November 18, 1965.[25] On December 10, he sentenced to one to ten fifteen in prison, of which he served six years. On December 6, 1971, he was released on parole.[8][26] After his release, Neal went back to working as a landscaper and gardener.

On August 7, 1972, Neal was found dead in his bed by his son at his home in North Hollywood, California.[27] His death was later attributed to heart failure.[14] He was cremated, and his ashes were scattered in the Pacific Ocean.[28]

Amateur boxing record[edit]

Amateur Boxing Record[29]
Result Record Opponent Method Date Round Time Event Location Notes
Loss 31-3-0 United States J.H. Isbell KO March 31, 1934 2 Cambridge, Massachusetts
Loss 31-2-0 United States "Modest" Bill Smith KO February 27, 1934 2 Cambridge, Massachusetts
Win 31-1-0 United StatesFrankie Hagen KO February 24, 1934 1 Cambridge, Massachusetts
Win 30-1-0 United StatesHarry Gardner KO February 21, 1934 1 Cambridge, Massachusetts
Win 29-1-0 United StatesSid Stoneman KO February 14, 1934 1 Cambridge, Massachusetts
Win 28-1-0 United StatesFrankie Hagan PTS January 30, 1934 3 Cambridge, Massachusetts
Win 27-1-0 United StatesBasil Barnett KO January 24, 1934 2 Cambridge, Massachusetts
Win 26-1-0 United StatesGeorge Krause KO January 16, 1934 1 Cambridge, Massachusetts
Win 25-1-0 United StatesBob Delmont KO January 7, 1934 1 Cambridge, Massachusetts
Loss 24-1-0 United StatesBrad Simmons KO January 1, 1934 1 Cambridge, Massachusetts
Win 24-0-0 United StatesHerman Zeinman KO 1933 1 Cambridge, Massachusetts
Win 23-0-0 United StatesWilliam Beltran KO 1933 1 Cambridge, Massachusetts
Win 22-0-0 United StatesLloyd Blake KO 1933 1 Cambridge, Massachusetts
Win 21-0-0 United StatesLawrence "Larry" O'Neil KO 1933 1 Cambridge, Massachusetts
Win 20-0-0 United StatesIgg Rosenberg KO 1933 1 Cambridge, Massachusetts
Win 19-0-0 United StatesMelvin Kenyon KO 1933 1 Cambridge, Massachusetts
Win 18-0-0 United StatesGary Keers KO 1933 1 Cambridge, Massachusetts
Win 17-0-0 United StatesSamuel Rodgway KO May 28, 1933 1 Cambridge, Massachusetts
Exch 16-0-0 United States"Irish" Tommy Mitchell KO May 21, 1933 1 Cambridge, Massachusetts
Win 15-0-0 United StatesJim Crawford KO May 14, 1933 1 Cambridge, Massachusetts
Win 14-0-0 United StatesMax Levine KO May 7, 1933 1 Cambridge, Massachusetts
Win 13-0-0 United StatesLeo Hart KO May 1, 1933 1 Cambridge, Massachusetts
Win 12-0-0 United StatesPaul Benjamin PTS 1932 3 Evanston, Illinois
Win 11-0-0 United StatesFred Chapman KO 1932 3 Evanston, Illinois
Win 10-0-0 United StatesPaul Benjamin KO 1932 3 Evanston, Illinois
Win 9-0-0 United StatesRod Conley KO 1932 2 Evanston, Illinois
Win 8-0-0 United StatesPaul Gilmore KO 1932 1 Chicago, Illinois
Win 7-0-0 United StatesJack Lewis KO 1932 3 Chicago, Illinois
Exch 6-0-0 United StatesEddie Mitchell KO 1932 1 Chicago, Illinois
Win 5-0-0 United StatesErnest Brant KO 1932 1 Chicago, Illinois
Win 4-0-0 United StatesKarl Brenner-Eggers KO 1932 1 Chicago, Illinois
Win 3-0-0 United StatesNorman Martin PTS 1932 3 Chicago, Illinois
Win 2-0-0 United StatesAlbert Leikman KO 1932 1 Chicago, Illinois
Win 1-0-0 United StatesKeith Newman KO 1932 1 Chicago, Illinois

Selected filmography[edit]

Film
Year Title Role Notes
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 Under Age
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
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
1950 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
Television
Year Title Role Notes
1950 The Gene Autry Show Breezy
Buck
2 episodes
1951 Racket Squad Episode: "Skin Game"
1951 Boston Blackie 2 episodes
1952 The Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok Lash Corby Episode: "Vigilante Story"
1958 Tales of Wells Fargo Johnny Reno Episode: "Faster Gun"
1959 Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer Luke Lund Episode: "According to Luke"

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b O'Dowd, John (2007). Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye: The Barbara Payton Story. BearManor Media. pp. 147–148. ISBN 1-593-93063-1. 
  2. ^ Morton, Lisa; Adamson, Kent (2009). Savage Detours: The Life and Work of Ann Savage. McFarland. pp. 227–228. ISBN 0-786-45706-6. 
  3. ^ a b c O'Dowd 2007 p.148
  4. ^ Morton, Lisa; Adamson, Kent (2009). Savage Detours: The Life and Work of Ann Savage. McFarland. pp. 227–228. ISBN 0-786-45706-6. 
  5. ^ Rainey, Buck (2005). Serial Film Stars: A Biographical Dictionary, 1912-1956. McFarland. p. 555. ISBN 0-786-42010-3. 
  6. ^ Polito, Robert (2009). Hollywood & God. University of Chicago Press. p. 7. ISBN 0-226-67341-3. 
  7. ^ a b "Actor Tone, Barbara Payton, Wed In 'Quickie' Ceremony". The Bulletin. September 29, 1951. p. 8. Retrieved December 7, 2014. 
  8. ^ a b Arthur Lyons. "Killer Career – Actor Tom Neal". Palm Springs Life magazine. Retrieved November 4, 2011. 
  9. ^ "Actor Tom Neal Ko's Love Rival Franchot Tone". Ludington Daily News. September 15, 1951. p. 1. Retrieved December 7, 2014. 
  10. ^ "Franchot Tone Still in Semi-coma After Beating Over Miss Payton". The Free Lance-Star. September 15, 1951. p. 1. Retrieved December 7, 2014. 
  11. ^ a b c "Ex-Movie Star Tom Neal Dies". Beaver County Times. August 8, 1972. pp. A–4. Retrieved December 7, 2014. 
  12. ^ "Franchot Says Wife, Neal Had Relations". Herald-Journal. April 25, 1952. p. 32. Retrieved December 7, 2014. 
  13. ^ O'Dowd 2007 pp.243, 248
  14. ^ a b Burroughs Hannsberry, Karen (2003). Bad Boys: The Actors of Film Noir. McFarland. p. 485. ISBN 0-786-41484-7. 
  15. ^ O'Dowd 2007 p.156
  16. ^ Marcus, Greil (2007). The Shape of Things to Come: Prophecy and the American Voice. Macmillian. p. 130. ISBN 0-312-42642-9. 
  17. ^ O'Dowd 2007 p.242
  18. ^ O'Dowd 2007 p.242
  19. ^ "Tom Neal Quizzed In Killing". Daytona Beach Morning Journal. April 3, 1965. p. 1. Retrieved December 7, 2014. 
  20. ^ "Ex-Actor Tom Neal Jailed, Wife Found Shot To Death". Herald-Journal. April 3, 1965. p. 5. Retrieved December 7, 2014. 
  21. ^ "Former Actor Tom Neal Charged In Wife's Murder". Lodi News-Sentinel. April 3, 1965. p. 12. Retrieved December 7, 2014. 
  22. ^ "Tom Neal Jailed On Suspicion". The Virgin Islands Daily News. April 5, 1965. p. 2. Retrieved December 7, 2014. 
  23. ^ "Former Actor Indicted In Slaying Of Wife". Toledo Blade. April 10, 1965. p. 15. Retrieved December 7, 2014. 
  24. ^ "Tom Neal Tells Of Wife's Dating". The Miami News. November 9, 1965. p. 16A. Retrieved December 7, 2014. 
  25. ^ "Former Actor Found Guilty". Rome News-Tribune. November 19, 1965. p. 1. Retrieved December 7, 2014. 
  26. ^ "Actor Imprisoned For Manslaughter". Star-News. December 11, 1965. p. 17. Retrieved December 7, 2014. 
  27. ^ "Ex-film actor Tom Neal found dead at 59". Eugene Register-Guard. August 8, 1952. p. 4A. Retrieved December 7, 2014. 
  28. ^ O'Dowd 2007 p.420
  29. ^ Tome Neal at Bosing-Scoop.com

External links[edit]