|Born||Salvatore Mineo, Jr.
January 10, 1939
The Bronx, New York City, New York, U.S.
|Died||February 12, 1976
West Hollywood, California, U.S.
|Cause of death||Homicide|
|Resting place||Gate of Heaven Cemetery, Hawthorne, New York, U.S.|
|Other names||The Switchblade Kid|
Salvatore "Sal" Mineo, Jr. (January 10, 1939 – February 12, 1976), was an American film and theatre actor, known for his performance as John "Plato" Crawford opposite James Dean in the film Rebel Without a Cause (1955). He was twice nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, for his roles in Rebel Without a Cause and Exodus (1960).
Early life and career
Mineo was born in the Bronx, the son of coffin makers Josephine (née Alvisi) and Salvatore Mineo, Sr. He was of Sicilian descent; his father was born in Italy and his mother, of Italian origin, was born in the United States. His mother enrolled him in dancing and acting school at an early age. He had his first stage appearance in Tennessee Williams' play The Rose Tattoo (1951). He also played the young prince opposite Yul Brynner in the stage musical The King and I. Brynner took the opportunity to help Mineo better himself as an actor.
As a teenager, Mineo appeared on ABC's musical quiz program Jukebox Jury, which aired in the 1953-1954 season. Mineo made several television appearances before making his screen debut in the Joseph Pevney film Six Bridges to Cross (1955). He beat out Clint Eastwood for the role. Mineo had also successfully auditioned for a part in The Private War of Major Benson (1955), as a cadet colonel opposite Charlton Heston.
Rebel Without a Cause and after
His breakthrough as an actor came in Rebel Without a Cause (1955), in which he played John "Plato" Crawford, the sensitive teenager smitten with Jim Stark (played by James Dean). His performance resulted in an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor, and his popularity quickly developed. Mineo's biographer, Paul Jeffers, recounted that Mineo received thousands of letters from young female fans, was mobbed by them at public appearances, and further wrote: "He dated the most beautiful women in Hollywood and New York City."
In Giant (1956), Mineo played Angel Obregon II, a Mexican boy killed in World War II, but many of his subsequent roles were variations of his role in Rebel Without a Cause, and he was typecast as a troubled teen. In the Disney adventure Tonka (1958), for instance, Mineo starred as a young Sioux named White Bull who traps and domesticates a clear-eyed, spirited wild horse named Tonka that becomes the famous Comanche, the lone survivor of Custer's Last Stand.
In Multiculturalism and the Mouse: Race and Sex in Disney Entertainment (2006), Douglas Brode states that the casting of Mineo as White Bull again "ensured a homosexual subtext". By the late 1950s, the actor was a major celebrity, sometimes referred to as the "Switchblade Kid"—a nickname he earned from his role as a criminal in the movie Crime in the Streets (1956).] In 1957, Mineo made a brief foray into pop music by recording a handful of songs and an album. Two of his singles reached the Top 40 in the United States' Billboard Hot 100. The more popular of the two, "Start Movin' (In My Direction)", reached #9 on Billboard's pop chart. It sold over one million copies and was awarded a gold disc. He starred as drummer Gene Krupa in the movie The Gene Krupa Story (1959), directed by Don Weis with Susan Kohner, James Darren, and Susan Oliver. He appeared as the celebrity guest challenger on the June 30, 1957, episode of What's My Line?.
Mineo made an effort to break his typecasting. His acting ability and exotic good looks earned him roles as the Native American boy in the above-mentioned film Tonka (1956), and as a Jewish emigrant in Otto Preminger's Exodus (1960), for which he won a Golden Globe Award and received another Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actor.
Career decline and attempted revival
By the early 1960s, he was becoming too old to play the type of role that had made him famous, and his homosexuality led to his being considered inappropriate for leading roles. For example, he auditioned for David Lean's film Lawrence of Arabia (1962), but was not hired. He also appeared in The Longest Day (1962), wherein he played a private who is killed by a German after the landing in Sainte-Mère-Église. Mineo was baffled by his sudden loss of popularity, later saying, "One minute it seemed I had more movie offers than I could handle; the next, no one wanted me." The high point of this period was his portrayal of Uriah in The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965). Mineo also appeared on the Season 2 episode of The Patty Duke Show: "Patty Meets a Celebrity"(1964). There are stories he attempted to revive his career by camping out on the front lawn of Francis Ford Coppola's home, for a chance to win the role of Fredo Corleone in The Godfather (1972), but the role went to John Cazale. Mineo guest-starred in an episode of ABC's TV series Combat! in 1966, playing the role of a GI wanted for murder. He did two more appearances on the same show, including appearing in an installment with Fernando Lamas.
Mineo's role as a stalker in Who Killed Teddy Bear? (1965), which co-starred Juliet Prowse, did not seem to help. Although his performance was praised by critics, he found himself typecast anew, now as a deranged criminal. He never entirely escaped this characterization. One of his last roles was a guest spot on the TV series S.W.A.T. (1975), playing a cult leader similar to Charles Manson.
In 1969, Mineo returned to the stage to direct a Los Angeles production of the LGBT-themed play Fortune and Men's Eyes (1967), featuring then-unknown Don Johnson as Smitty and himself as Rocky. The production received positive reviews, although its expanded prison rape scene was criticized as excessive and gratuitous.
In 1970, Mineo was crowned King of the Beaux Arts Ball. Presiding with him as his Queen was Madeleine Le Roux.
In 1975, Mineo appeared as Rachman Habib, assistant to the president of a Middle Eastern country, in the Columbo episode "A Case of Immunity", on NBC-TV. This episode was filmed entirely on location at Greenacres, the (by that time declining) estate of silent screen legend Harold Lloyd. Soon after the filming, the estate was sold and subdivided into 12 estate lots. Mineo also appeared in two episodes of Hawaii Five-O, in 1968 and 1975.
Mineo met actress Jill Haworth at the set of the film Exodus, where they played young lovers, for which he won a Golden Globe Award and received another Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actor. Mineo and Haworth were together on-and-off for many years, even getting engaged to be married at one point, though she canceled the engagement when she became aware of an affair Sal was having with Bobby Sherman. They did remain very close friends until Mineo's death.
Mineo expressed disapproval of Haworth's brief relationship with the much older television producer Aaron Spelling. Haworth was 20 and Spelling was 42. One night when Mineo found Haworth and Spelling at a private Beverly Hills nightclub, he walked up and punched Spelling in the face, yelling, "Do you know how old she is? What are you doing with her at your age?"
Michael G. Michaud wrote a biography of Mineo with the majority of information coming from Haworth and Burr. In his book, Michaud claimed that Mineo had sexual relations with then teen idol Bobby Sherman. He claimed Mineo never had any sexual relations with either Dean or Johnson. Johnson and Mineo had been roommates for a time and became friends. Mineo was also close friends with David Cassidy, another teen idol.
Mineo has become a gay icon posthumously. Some people, mostly within the LGBT community, label him "homosexual" (even though Mineo himself has said he was "bisexual") and say that Haworth was nothing but a close friend and "his beard". Michaud denies this, describing Mineo and Haworth's relationship as a normal heterosexual relationship, and stating that Mineo fell in love with Haworth and regarded her as one of the most important people in his life.
By 1976, Mineo's career had begun to turn around. While playing the role of a bisexual burglar in a series of stage performances of the comedy P.S. Your Cat Is Dead in San Francisco, Mineo received substantial publicity from many positive reviews and he moved to Los Angeles along with the play.
Mineo was arriving home after a rehearsal on February 12, 1976, when he was stabbed to death in the alley behind his apartment building near the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, California. Mineo was stabbed just once, not repeatedly as first reported, but the knife blade struck his legs, leading to immediate and fatal internal bleeding. His remains were interred in the Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Hawthorne, New York.
In March 1979, pizza deliveryman Lionel Ray Williams was sentenced to 57 years in prison for killing Mineo and for ten robberies in the same area. Although considerable confusion existed as to what witnesses had seen in the darkness the night Mineo was murdered, Williams claimed to have had no idea who Mineo was. Corrections officers later said they had overheard Williams admitting to the stabbing. Williams was defended by Mort Herbert.
Sal Mineo was the model for Harold Stevenson's painting The New Adam (1963). The painting currently is part of the Guggenheim Museum's permanent collection, and is considered "one of the great American nudes".
Mineo's career included involvement with opera. On May 8, 1954, he portrayed the Page (lip-synching to the voice of mezzo-soprano Carol Jones) in the NBC Opera Theatre's production of Richard Strauss' Salome (in English translation), set to Oscar Wilde's play. Elaine Malbin performed the title role, and Peter Herman Adler conducted Kirk Browning's production.
|1952||The Vision of Father Flanagan||Les||TV Movie|
|1952||A Woman For The Ages||Charles||TV Movie|
|1953||Omnibus||Paco||"The Capitol of the World"|
|1954||Janet Dean, Registered Nurse||Tommy Angelo||"The Magic Horn"|
|1955||Big Town||"Juvenile Gangs"|
|1955||Omnibus||"The Bad Men"|
|1955||The Philco Television Playhouse||"The Trees"|
|1955||Frontiers of Faith||"The Man on the 6:02"|
|1956||Look Up and Live||"Nothing to Do"|
|1956||The Alcoa Hour||Paco||"The Capitol of the World", "The Magic Horn"|
|1956||Westinghouse Studio One||"Dino"|
|1956||Look Up and Live||"Nothing to Do"|
|1956||Lux Video Theatre||"Tabloid"|
|1956||Screen Directors Playhouse||"The Dream"|
|1956||Climax!||Miguel||"Island in the City"|
|1957||The Ed Sullivan Show||Himself||Episodes 10.42, 10.48|
|1957||Kraft Suspense Theatre||Tony Russo||"Barefoot Soldier", "Drummer Man"|
|1957||Kraft Music Hall||Himself||Episode 10.8|
|1958||The DuPont Show of the Month||Aladdin||"Cole Porter's Aladdin"|
|1958||Pursuit||Jose Garcia||"The Garcia Story"|
|1959||The Ann Sothern Show||Nicky Silvero||"The Sal Mineo Story"|
|1962||The DuPont Show of the Week||Coke||"A Sound of Hunting"|
|1963||The Greatest Show on Earth||Billy Archer||"The Loser"|
|1964||Kraft Suspense Theatre||Ernie||"The World I Want"|
|1964||Dr. Kildare||Carlos Mendoza||"Tomorrow is a Fickle Girl"|
|1964||Combat!||Private Kogan||"The Hard Way Back"|
|1965||The Patty Duke Show||Himself||"Patty Meets a Celebrity"|
|1965||Burke's Law||Lew Dixon||"Who Killed the Rabbit's Husband?"|
|1966||Combat!||Vinnick||"Nothing to Lose"|
|1966||Combat!||Marcel Paulon||"The Brothers"|
|1966||Mona McCluskey||"The General Swings at Dawn"|
|1966||Run for Your Life||Tonio||"Sequestro!: Parts 1 and 2"|
|1966||Court Martial||Lt. Tony Bianchi||"The House Where He Lived"|
|1966||The Dangerous Days of Kiowa Jones||Bobby Jack Wilkes||TV Movie|
|1967||Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre||Doctoroff||"A Song Called Revenge"|
|1967||Stranger on the Run||George Blaylock||TV Movie|
|1968||Hawaii Five-O||Bobby George||"Tiger By The Tail"|
|1969||The Name Of The Game||Sheldon||"A Hard Case Of The Blues"|
|1970||Mission Impossible||Mel Bracken||Flip Side|
|1970||The Challengers||Angel de Angelo||TV Movie|
|1970||The Name of the Game||Wade Hillary||"So Long, Baby, and Amen"|
|1971||My Three Sons||Jim Bell||"The Liberty Bell"|
|1971||Dan August||Mort Downes||"The Worst Crime"|
|1971||In Search of America||Nick||TV Movie|
|1971||How to Steal an Airplane||Luis Ortega||TV Movie|
|1972||The Family Rico||Nick Rico||TV Movie|
|1973||Griff||President Gamal Zaki||"Marked for Murder"|
|1973||Harry O||Walter Scheerer||"Such Dust as Dreams Are Made On"|
|1974||Tenafly||Jerry Farmer||"Man Running"|
|1974||Police Story||Stippy||"The Hunters"|
|1975||Columbo||Rachman Habib||"A Case of Immunity"|
|1975||Hawaii Five-O||Eddie||"Hit Gun for Sale"|
|1975||Harry O||Broker||"Elegy for a Cop"|
|1975||SWAT||Roy||"Deadly Tide: Parts 1 and 2"|
|1975||SWAT||Joey Hopper||"A Coven of Killers"|
|1975||Police Story||Fobbes||"Test of Brotherhood"|
|1976||Ellery Queen||James Danello||"The Adventure of the Wary Witness"|
|1976||Joe Forrester||Parma||"The Answer" (Last appearance)|
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- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 368. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- Holliday, Peter J. "Mineo, Sal (1939-1976)". Retrieved 2008-07-20.
- Guía del cine clásico: Protagonistas - Antonio Mendez - Google Books. Books.google.ca. Retrieved 2012-04-16.
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- McGilligan, Patrick (1999). Clint: The Life and Legend. London: Harper Collins. p. 63. ISBN 0-00-638354-8.
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- Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 94. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
- [What's My Line? - Sal Mineo; Ernie Kovacs (panel); Martin Gabel (panel) (Jun 30, 1957)]
- Davidsmeyer, Jo. "Nothing to Lose". Combat! Fan Site. Retrieved 15 January 2013.
-  Archived February 5, 2015, at the Wayback Machine.
- Michael Gregg Michaud. "Sal Mineo: A Biography". Retrieved September 29, 2015.
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- Matthew Carey. "Book helps rediscover murdered Hollywood star". CNN. Retrieved September 29, 2015.
- "Just Finished The New Sal Mineo Biography". Retrieved September 29, 2015.
- "Boze Hadleigh interview with Sal Mineo, 1972". Retrieved June 2, 2015.
- "Cause Célèbre—A Review Of Sal Mineo: A Biography & Interview With The Author". Retrieved September 29, 2015.
- Ellis, Chris; Ellis, Julie (2005). The Mammoth Book of Celebrity Murder. New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers. pp. 419–422. ISBN 0-7867-1568-5.
- "Obituary". Variety. February 18, 1976. p. 126.
- Rachael Bell (2008). "The Switchblade Kid: The Life and Death of Sal Mineo". TruTV. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. Retrieved 2008-07-12.
- Sal Mineo at Find a Grave
- "Actor Sal Mineo Is Stabbed to Death". Los Angeles Times. 2006-02-12. Retrieved 2008-07-20.
- Mann, Ted. "The New Adam at the Guggenheim Museum". Retrieved 2011-01-01.
- Vogel, Carol (2005-09-30). "Exposure for a Nude". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-07-22.
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- Frascella, Lawrence & Weisel, Al (2005). Live Fast, Die Young: The Wild Ride of Making Rebel Without a Cause. Touchstone. ISBN 0-7432-6082-1.
- Gilmore, John (1998). Laid Bare: A Memoir of Wrecked Lives and the Hollywood Death Trip. Amok Books. ISBN 1-878923-08-0.
- Johansson, Warren & Percy, William A (1994). Outing: Shattering the Conspiracy of Silence. Harrington Park Press. p. 91.
- Jeffers, H. Paul (2002). Sal Mineo: His Life, Murder, and Mystery. Running Press.
- Michaud, Michael Gregg (2010). Sal Mineo: A Biography. Harmony.
- "Official Website". SalMineo.com.
- Sal Mineo at Find a Grave
- Sal Mineo at the Internet Broadway Database
- Sal Mineo at the Internet Movie Database
- Sal Mineo at the Internet Off-Broadway Database