Tom Neal

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Tom Neal
Ann Savage and Tom Neal in Detour (1945)
Born Thomas Neal
(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
Resting place
Chapel of the Pines Crematory, Los Angeles
Occupation Actor
Years active 1938-1959
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,[1] 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.

Amateur Boxing Record[1][2][edit]

Amateur Boxing Record
Result Record Opponent Method Date Round Time Event Location Notes
Loss 31-3-0 United States J.H. Isbell KO 1934 Mar 31 2 Cambridge, Massachusetts
Loss 31-2-0 United States "Modest" Bill Smith KO 1934 Feb 27 2 Cambridge, Massachusetts
Win 31-1-0 United StatesFrankie Hagen KO 1934 Feb 24 1 Cambridge, Massachusetts
Win 30-1-0 United StatesHarry Gardner KO 1934 Feb 21 1 Cambridge, Massachusetts
Win 29-1-0 United StatesSid Stoneman KO 1934 Feb 14 1 Cambridge, Massachusetts
Win 28-1-0 United StatesFrankie Hagan PTS 1934 Jan 30 3 Cambridge, Massachusetts
Win 27-1-0 United StatesBasil Barnett KO 1934 Jan 24 2 Cambridge, Massachusetts
Win 26-1-0 United StatesGeorge Krause KO 1934 Jan 16 1 Cambridge, Massachusetts
Win 25-1-0 United StatesBob Delmont KO 1934 Jan 07 1 Cambridge, Massachusetts
Loss 24-1-0 United StatesBrad Simmons KO 1934 Jan 01 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 1933 May 28 1 Cambridge, Massachusetts
Exch 16-0-0 United States"Irish" Tommy Mitchell KO 1933 May 21 1 Cambridge, Massachusetts
Win 15-0-0 United StatesJim Crawford KO 1933 May 14 1 Cambridge, Massachusetts
Win 14-0-0 United StatesMax Levine KO 1933 May 7 1 Cambridge, Massachusetts
Win 13-0-0 United StatesLeo Hart KO 1933 May 1 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

Personal life and death[edit]

In 1951, he fought fellow actor Franchot Tone over their girlfriend in common, actress Barbara Payton.[3] 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.[citation needed]

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.[3]

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.

Selected filmography[edit]

Year Film 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 (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
Year Title Role Notes
1950 The Gene Autry Show Breezy
2 episodes
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


  1. ^ a b Tom Neal at the Internet Movie Database
  2. ^ Tome Neal at
  3. ^ a b Arthur Lyons. "Killer Career – Actor Tom Neal". Palm Springs Life magazine. Retrieved November 4, 2011. 

External links[edit]