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Sal Mineo Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5) | Mini Bio (1) | Trivia (23) | Personal Quotes (8) | Salary (3)

Overview (5)

Date of Birth 10 January 1939The Bronx, New York City, New York, USA
Date of Death 12 February 1976West Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, USA  (homicide)
Birth NameSalvatore Mineo Jr.
Nicknames The Switchblade Kid
Jr
Height 5' 6" (1.68 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Salvatore (Sal) Mineo Jr. was born to Josephine and Sal Sr. (a casket maker), who emigrated to the U.S. from Sicily. His siblings were Michael, Victor and Sarina. Sal was thrown out of parochial school and, by age eight, was a member of a street gang in a tough Bronx neighborhood. His mother enrolled him in dancing school and, after being arrested for robbery at age ten, he was given a choice of juvenile confinement or professional acting school.

He soon appeared in the theatrical production "The Rose Tattoo" with Maureen Stapleton and Eli Wallach and as the young prince in "The King and I" with Gertrude Lawrence and Yul Brynner. At age 16 he played a much younger boy in Six Bridges to Cross (1955) with Tony Curtis and later that same year played Plato in James Dean's Rebel Without a Cause (1955). He was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in this film and again for his role as Dov Landau in Exodus (1960).

Expanding his repertoire, Mineo returned to the theatre to direct and star in the play "Fortune and Men's Eyes" with successful runs in both New York and Los Angeles. In the late 1960s and 1970s he continued to work steadily in supporting roles on TV and in film, including Dr. Milo in Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971) and Harry O (1973). In 1975 he returned to the stage in the San Francisco hit production of "P.S. Your Cat Is Dead". Preparing to open the play in Los Angeles in 1976 with Keir Dullea, he returned home from rehearsal the evening of February 12th when he was attacked and stabbed to death by a stranger. A drifter named Lionel Ray Williams was arrested for the crime and, after trial in 1979, convicted and sentenced to life in prison for the murder, but was paroled in 1990. Although taken away far too soon, the memory of Sal Mineo continues to live on through the large body of TV and film work that he left behind.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Anthony Wynn

Trivia (23)

Brother of actor Michael Mineo, Victor Mineo, and Sarina Mineo.
In 1957 he tried to start a career as a rock-and-roll singer. He released two singles. The first was "Start Movin' (In My Direction)", which stayed in the US top 40 for 13 weeks and reached the #9 position. The second was "Lasting Love", which stayed on the charts for three weeks and reached #27. The singles were followed up by an album on the Epic label. In the UK the records were released on the Philips label.
Grew up on East 213th Street in the Olinville section of the Bronx.
Once hung out with the Hell's Angels motorcycle group.
In 1957, at the height of Sal's fame, Bob Hope announced on a TV special that all public schools in the Bronx would be closed the following day in honor of Sal Mineo's birthday. Hope meant this as a joke, but many youngsters in the Bronx took it seriously, and there was record absenteeism in the borough's public schools the following day. Hope ultimately issued a public retraction and urged kids to stay in school.
Donated the drum he used in The Gene Krupa Story (1959) to another teen idol, David Cassidy, the day after a dinner with David and his father, Jack Cassidy. David was 13 at the time.
In the mid-1960s he was engaged to British actress Jill Haworth.
Many bizarre rumors floated around about his murder, but when his killer, Lionel Ray Williams, was caught, he turned out to be a drug-addled 17-year-old who had no idea who Mineo was and was only interested in the money he had on him. Williams was convicted of murder, and sentenced to life imprisonment, but was paroled in 1990.
He was frequently cast as a humorless, jittery youth whose loneliness turns violent when he's cornered, but in reality he was known for his easy-going, extroverted ways and his ability to see the positive and the humor in almost any situation.
John Lennon once put up the reward money to find Mineo's killer.
Was mentioned in the movie/play "Grease" during the song "Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee." The lyric goes: "Oh, no, no, Sal Mineo, I would never stoop so low.".
Had a long, on-and-off relationship with his young Exodus (1960) co-star Jill Haworth. She was 15 and he was 21 at the time. According to Michael Gregg Michaud's 2010 biography of Sal, she and Mineo agreed to her having an abortion at one point in 1969.
Was injured during the Mojave Desert location filming of Escape from Zahrain (1962). He and co-star Madlyn Rhue accidentally tripped during an action scene and set off detonating caps that were being used to simulate machine-gun fire. Sal was burned and taken to a local hospital for a few days.
In early 1962 he posed nude in several sessions for Harold Stevenson, known for his large-scale homoerotic painting and drawings. Stevenson gave one of them to Mineo for his own. A huge painting of Sal was eventually exhibited at the Richard Feigen Gallery in New York and Chicago in 1964.
Suffered from a chronic right eye infection that was usually brought about by severe emotional stress. He often had to wear an eye patch or dark sunglasses in public until it healed.
Directed and starred as Rocky, a hardcore prisoner, in the controversial homosexual prison drama "Fortune and Men's Eyes" in Los Angeles in 1969. It was a popular stage hit at the time and co-starring as Mineo's innocent young blond victim was pre-"Miami Vice" star Don Johnson.
Traded on his acting popularity to become a pop singer. He recorded several songs, including "Love Affair" (1957), "Lasting Love" (1957), "Party Time" (1957), "Seven Steps to Love" (1958), "Baby Face" (1958), "Make Believe Baby" (1959) and "Young as We Are" (1959).
Bought his protégé Bobby Sherman a set of drums when he helped Sherman break into the music industry in 1963-64 (Mineo had learned to play the drums for his role of Gene Krupa in The Gene Krupa Story (1959)). In 1970, when Mineo was broke and Sherman was riding high after appearing in the TV series Here Come the Brides (1968) and scoring big as a pop star, Mineo's lover Courtney Burr contacted Sherman and requested that he reimburse his former mentor for the drums. Sherman's manager sent Mineo $3,000 (approximately $17,000 in 2011 dollars, when adjusted for inflation).
Mineo longed to be a movie director, and he directed the 1969 Los Angeles production of the prison drama "Fortune and Men's Eyes:. The play, which deals with homosexuality, had premiered in Ontario in 1965, opened in New York City off-Broadway in 1967 and had run for a year. In addition to directing, Mineo played the role of Rocky, a prison bully who rapes a naive young prisoner, Smitty (played by Don Johnson in the L.A. production). Mineo's staging emphasized violence and sexuality. He added a scene to the play, staging Rocky's rape of Smitty in the prison shower, an event that had been kept off stage in earlier productions. The Los Angeles production, which was eventually moved to New York (without Mineo as an actor) featured full frontal nudity. Mineo also directed a subsequent San Francisco production. Although playwright John Herbert did not initially object to Mineo's alterations, he vociferously criticized Mineo's Los Angeles and New York stagings (being a convicted felon, the Canadian Herbert was unable to enter the U.S. to actually see the productions). Herbert refused to sell him the film rights to his play, and the estrangement obviated any chance of Mineo being involved in the 1971 movie version (Fortune and Men's Eyes (1971)) of the play.
Mineo, whose father Salvatore Sr. was an immigrant from Sicily (his American-born mother Josephine was Neapolitan), coveted the role of Michael Corleone in The Godfather (1972).
Was laid to rest near his father at Gate of Heaven Cemetery in suburban Hawthorne, CA.
Sal attended Quintano's School For Young Professionals, a New York City private high school for working child actors.
He came out as bisexual in a 1972 interview. However, many of his fans believe he was gay, as he only dated men in his last years.

Personal Quotes (8)

[1975] I'll never be mistaken for Pat Boone.
[Explaining why he believed he lost an important role in Lawrence of Arabia (1962) (which filmed in Jordan), after completing work on Exodus (1960)] I lost because I had appeared in a pro-Jewish picture, played a sympathetic Jewish boy, and shot four Arabs.
No one ever said movies are for developing your range. Hardly anyone gets that opportunity. Which is why I think the stage is so good. It's less bread, but you can play different types, and you can initiate your own projects.
[on James Dean] We never became lovers, but we could have -- like that.
[on his father's death] Being in the same room with him and looking at him, I realized that one day I would be in the same position as he, facing death. Before it happens I mean to do the things I want to do. I will not end up saying, "I wish I had".
It's a situation I've never been able to fathom. One minute it seemed I had more movie offers than I could handle, the next--no one wanted me.
If I'd understood back then that a guy could be in love with another one, it would have happened. But I didn't come to that realization for a few more years and then it was too late for Jimmy [James Dean] and me.
It would be easy to blame Hollywood to say that I was typed and forced to play the same role over and over. For a while, I did. But the truth is that I knew what I was doing. I was enjoying myself. I was making money. I suppose that it had to stop. I made some good pictures, and I made some bad ones. I wasn't trying to build an image, though; I was trying to build a life for myself.

Salary (3)

The DuPont Show of the Month (1957) $100,000
Cheyenne Autumn (1964) $250,000
The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965) $1,000 /day ($93,000 total)

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