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7 October 1999 (USA)  »

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Salvatore Mineo, Jr. and His Caring, Giving, and Versatile Capabilities
14 July 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

On the night of February 12, 1976, a scream is heard from a West Hollywood, California, apartment concourse, and the body of a 37-year-old male is discovered, the victim of a stab wound. Newspaper headlines launch the "little-remembered" victim into a newfound fame, a fame which he has been attempting to restore since the death of a friend, which had created his star many years earlier....

Bob Brown narrates this account of the life and career of actor Sal Mineo, from his 1939 birth, in The Bronx, New York, the third son of Sicilian immigrants Josephine and Salvatore Mineo, Sr., who meet in The Bronx and get along well in spite of sporting completely different personalities, for Josephine's approach is outgoing and forthright, while Salvatore remains rather quiet and timid.

Salvatore, Jr., derives his personality from either parent, as timid yet determined to share his many talents before audiences, as Josephine enrolls Sal at the age of nine, along with his sister, Sabrina, into dancing classes and takes him to acting auditions.

As a result, young Sal lands his first professional acting role on Broadway at age 11, in "The Rose Tattoo." Sal Mineo understudies for the role of the Prince in the Broadway run of "The King and I," starring the legendary Yul Brynner, and advances into the role when the previous performer outgrows the part.

Soon, Sal heads to Hollywood to begin his career in film and on television, when he lobbies for the role of John 'Plato' Crawford (which has already been cast) for "Rebel Without a Cause" (1955) .... and is re-cast with Sal, who co-stars with Natalie Wood and James Dean, who mentors the promising Sal during the film's production; and, in the aftermath of James' untimely passing, audiences and critical attention boosts Sal's rising star, lending to him the nickname of "The Switchblade Kid."

While still a teen, Sal is cast in a variety of ethnic roles, suitable to his appearance, yet in street-wise characters, against the grain of his friendly and approachable personality, as he maintains his family ties back in The Bronx, to which he returns between films, to remain grounded.

Unlike most stars of the day, Sal does not hire an agent nor sign a studio contract; rather, his parents (whom he now relocates to California) represent him and help him to decide which acting offers ought to suit his capabilities. (Later, however, Sal does hire an agent.)

Sal Mineo receives critical acclaim for his professional performances as a Native American Indian youth in "Tonka" (1958), as the world-class drummer in the title role of "The Gene Krupa Story" (1959), and as a victimized Jewish emigrant in Otto Preminger's "Exodus" (1960).

But after outgrowing his teen roles, Sal's hire-able opportunities dwindle in film although he continues acting in many television program guest roles throughout the 1960's, as well as back on stage in groundbreaking Avant-garde productions dealing with topics considerably revolutionary to theatric expectations.

While still in his 20's, Sal is audited by the Internal Revenue Service and charged with unlawful tax return write-offs, and repossessed of most of his earnings and holdings, which includes the residence which he has purchased for his family's residence.

And while all seems lost, Sal's romance with actress Jill Haworth also vanishes once he discovers male infatuation.

Inside the film industry and stage community, Sal remains transparent about his orientation, which costs him no roles, which is considered otherwise unusual in Hollywood.

But he becomes "Hollywood's Forgotten Rebel," as the episode sub-title suggests, primarily because of casting difficulties, after outliving his teenage rebel fame, but for far too brief a time.

Interview Guests for this episode consist of Sabrina Mineo Myers (Sister), Victor Mineo (Brother), Marie Bassino-Speranza (Cousin), Michael Bassino (Cousin), Carroll Baker (Actress), Elaine Stritch (Actress), David Cassidy (Actor), Courtney Burr (Actor/Partner), Keir Dullea (Actor), Peter Bogdanovich (Director), Mark Rydell (Director), Tom Korman (Agent), Conrad Shadlen (Attorney), Peter Travers (Rolling Stone Magazine), and Dan Tankersley (former LAPD Detective), with Harry Smith (Host), and Bob Brown (Narrator).

Still Photographs include Sal Mineo (Self), Josephine Mineo (Mother), Salvatore Mineo, Sr. (Father), Sabrina Mineo (Sister), Michael Mineo (Brother), Victor Mineo (Brother), plus various relatives, and Yul Brynner, Tony Curtis, Nicholas Ray, Pat Boone, Maureen Stapleton, Jason Robards, Jr., Gene Krupa, Otto Preminger, Patty Duke, William Schallert, Fred MacMurray and Don Grady.

Archive film footage includes Sal Mineo, James Dean, Natalie Wood, Jill Haworth and Juliet Prowse, and various unidentified co-stars.

Some of Sal Mineo's Stage performances mentioned here include "The Rose Tattoo" (1951), "The King and I" (1952), "Fortune and Men's Eyes" (1969), "The Children's Mass" (1973), and "P.S. Your Cat Is Dead" (1975).

Film Clips include a screen glimpse of Sal Mineo, in scenes from Rebel Without a Cause (1955), Tonka (1958), The Gene Krupa Story (1959), Exodus (1960), Cheyenne Autumn (1964), and Who Killed Teddy Bear (1965).

Television Clips include scenes from "Person to Person: Episode #4.14" (1956), "Studio One in Hollywood: Dino" (1956), and the Play "The Children's Mass" (1973).


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