Sal Mineo

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Sal Mineo
Sal mineo Allan Warren.jpg
Mineo in 1973
Salvatore Mineo Jr.

(1939-01-10)January 10, 1939
DiedFebruary 12, 1976(1976-02-12) (aged 37)
Cause of deathMurder by stabbing
Resting place Gate of Heaven Cemetery, Hawthorne, New York, U.S.
Other namesThe Switchblade Kid [1]
Years active1951–1976

Salvatore Mineo Jr. (January 10, 1939 February 12, 1976) was an American film and theatre actor and director. Mineo is chiefly known for his performance as John "Plato" Crawford opposite James Dean in the film Rebel Without a Cause (1955). [2] Mineo was twice nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, for his role in Rebel Without a Cause and Exodus (1960). A 1950s teen idol, Mineo's acting career declined in his adult years. He was murdered in 1976.

Film Sequence of images that give the impression of movement

Film, also called movie or motion picture, is a medium used to simulate experiences that communicate ideas, stories, perceptions, feelings, beauty or atmosphere by the means of recorded or programmed moving images along with other sensory stimulations. The word "cinema", short for cinematography, is often used to refer to filmmaking and the film industry, and to the art form that is the result of it.

Theatre Collaborative form of performing art

Theatre or theater is a collaborative form of fine art that uses live performers, typically actors or actresses, to present the experience of a real or imagined event before a live audience in a specific place, often a stage. The performers may communicate this experience to the audience through combinations of gesture, speech, song, music, and dance. Elements of art, such as painted scenery and stagecraft such as lighting are used to enhance the physicality, presence and immediacy of the experience. The specific place of the performance is also named by the word "theatre" as derived from the Ancient Greek θέατρον, itself from θεάομαι.

Actor Person who acts in a dramatic or comic production and works in film, television, theatre, or radio

An actor is a person who portrays a character in a performance. The actor performs "in the flesh" in the traditional medium of the theatre or in modern media such as film, radio, and television. The analogous Greek term is ὑποκριτής (hupokritḗs), literally "one who answers". The actor's interpretation of their role—the art of acting—pertains to the role played, whether based on a real person or fictional character. Interpretation occurs even when the actor is "playing themselves", as in some forms of experimental performance art.


Early life and career

Mineo was born in the Bronx, the son of coffin makers Josephine (née Alvisi) and Salvatore Mineo, Sr. [3] [4] He was of Sicilian descent; his father was born in Italy and his mother, of Italian origin, was born in the United States. Mineo was the brother of actress Sarina Mineo and actors Michael and Victor Mineo. He attended the Quintano School for Young Professionals.

Sicily Island in the Mediterranean and region of Italy

Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea and one of the 20 regions of Italy. It is one of the five Italian autonomous regions, in Southern Italy along with surrounding minor islands, officially referred to as Regione Siciliana.

Italy republic in Southern Europe

Italy, officially the Italian Republic, is a European country consisting of a peninsula delimited by the Alps and surrounded by several islands. Located in the middle of the Mediterranean sea and traversed along its length by the Apennines, Italy has a largely temperate seasonal and Mediterranean climate. The country covers a total area of 301,340 km2 (116,350 sq mi), and land area of 294,140 km2 (113,570 sq mi), and shares open land borders with France, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia, and the enclaved microstates of Vatican City and San Marino. Italy has a territorial exclave in Switzerland (Campione) and a maritime exclave in the Tunisian Sea (Lampedusa). With around 60 million inhabitants, Italy is the fourth-most populous member state of the European Union.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the most populous city is New York City. Most of the country is located contiguously in North America between Canada and Mexico.

Sal's mother enrolled him in dancing and acting school at an early age. [5] He had his first stage appearance in Tennessee Williams' play The Rose Tattoo (1951). [2] 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. [1]

Tennessee Williams American playwright

Thomas Lanier Williams III, known by his pen name Tennessee Williams, was an American playwright. Along with contemporaries Eugene O'Neill and Arthur Miller, he is considered among the three foremost playwrights of 20th-century American drama.

<i>The Rose Tattoo</i> play by Tennessee Williams

The Rose Tattoo is a Tennessee Williams play. It opened on Broadway in February 1951, and the film adaptation was released in 1955. It tells the story of an Italian-American widow in Mississippi who has allowed herself to withdraw from the world after her husband's death, and expects her daughter to do the same.

Yul Brynner American actor

Yul Brynner was an American film and stage actor of Swiss-Russian parentage.

On May 8, 1954, Mineo portrayed the Page (lip-synching to the voice of mezzo-soprano Carol Jones) in the NBC Opera Theatre's production of Richard Strauss's 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.

A mezzo-soprano or mezzo (, ; Italian pronunciation: [ˈmɛddzo soˈpraːno] meaning "half soprano") is a type of classical female singing voice whose vocal range lies between the soprano and the contralto voice types. The mezzo-soprano's vocal range usually extends from the A below middle C to the A two octaves above (i.e. A3–A5 in scientific pitch notation, where middle C = C4; 220–880 Hz). In the lower and upper extremes, some mezzo-sopranos may extend down to the F below middle C (F3, 175 Hz) and as high as "high C" (C6, 1047 Hz). The mezzo-soprano voice type is generally divided into the coloratura, lyric, and dramatic mezzo-soprano.

NBC American television and radio network

The National Broadcasting Company (NBC) is an American English-language commercial terrestrial television network that is a flagship property of NBCUniversal, a subsidiary of Comcast. The network is headquartered at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City, with additional major offices near Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia. The network is one of the Big Three television networks. NBC is sometimes referred to as the "Peacock Network", in reference to its stylized peacock logo, introduced in 1956 to promote the company's innovations in early color broadcasting. It became the network's official emblem in 1979.

Richard Strauss German composer

Richard Georg Strauss was a German composer, conductor, pianist, and violinist. Considered a leading composer of the late Romantic and early modern eras, he has been described as a successor of Richard Wagner and Franz Liszt. He along with Gustav Mahler, represents the late flowering of German Romanticism after Wagner, in which pioneering subtleties of orchestration are combined with an advanced harmonic style.

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. [6] Mineo also successfully auditioned for a part in The Private War of Major Benson (1955), as a cadet colonel opposite Charlton Heston. [7]

American Broadcasting Company American broadcast television network

The American Broadcasting Company (ABC) is an American commercial broadcast television network that is a flagship property of Walt Disney Television, a subsidiary of the Disney Media Networks division of The Walt Disney Company. The network is headquartered in Burbank, California on Riverside Drive, directly across the street from Walt Disney Studios and adjacent to the Roy E. Disney Animation Building. The network's secondary offices, and headquarters of its news division, is in New York City, New York, at their broadcast center at 77 West 66th Street in the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

<i>Jukebox Jury</i> television series

Jukebox Jury was an hour-long television series hosted by disc jockey Peter Potter which aired in the 1953-1954 season on ABC, and was syndicated in 1959.

Joseph Pevney American actor and director

Joseph Pevney was an American film and television director.

Rebel Without a Cause and aftermath

Mineo's breakthrough as an actor came in Rebel Without a Cause (1955), [2] 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. [1] 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." [8]

<i>Rebel Without a Cause</i> 1955 American film directed by Nicholas Ray

Rebel Without a Cause is a 1955 American drama film about emotionally confused suburban, middle-class teenagers. Filmed in the recently introduced CinemaScope format and directed by Nicholas Ray, it offered both social commentary and an alternative to previous films depicting delinquents in urban slum environments. The film stars James Dean, Sal Mineo, and Natalie Wood.

James Dean American actor

James Byron Dean was an American actor from Indiana. He is remembered as a cultural icon of teenage disillusionment and social estrangement, as expressed in the title of his most celebrated film, Rebel Without a Cause (1955), in which he starred as troubled teenager Jim Stark. The other two roles that defined his stardom were loner Cal Trask in East of Eden (1955) and surly ranch hand Jett Rink in Giant (1956).

Hollywood District in Los Angeles, California, United States

Hollywood is a neighborhood in the central region of Los Angeles, California, notable as the home of the U.S. film industry, including several of its historic studios. Its name has come to be a shorthand reference for the industry and the people associated with it.

Gigi Perreau with Mineo signing autographs at the premiere of The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit (1956) Perreau&Mineo.jpg
Gigi Perreau with Mineo signing autographs at the premiere of The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit (1956)

In Giant (1956), Mineo played Angel Obregon II, a Mexican boy killed in World War II. Many of his subsequent roles were variations of his role in Rebel Without a Cause, and he was typecast as a troubled teen. [9] 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. 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). [1]

Publicity still from The Gene Krupa Story (1959) Salmineo2.jpg
Publicity still from The Gene Krupa Story (1959)

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. [10] 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. [11] 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? [12]

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), a Mexican boy in the above-mentioned film Giant (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.

Later career

By the early 1960s, Mineo was becoming too old to play the type of role that had made him famous, and his rumoured 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. [5] 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."

Mineo was the model for Harold Stevenson's painting The New Adam (1963). Now in the Guggenheim Museum's permanent collection, the painting is considered "one of the great American nudes." [13] Mineo also appeared on the Season 2 episode of The Patty Duke Show : "Patty Meets a Celebrity" (1964).

Mineo's role as a stalker in Who Killed Teddy Bear (1965), which co-starred Juliet Prowse, did not seem to help his career. Although his performance was praised by critics, he found himself typecast again—this time as a deranged criminal. Mineo never entirely escaped this characterization. The high point of this period was his portrayal of Uriah in The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965). Mineo guest-starred in an episode of ABC's TV series Combat! in 1966, playing the role of a GI wanted for murder. [14] He did two more appearances on the same show, including appearing in an installment with Fernando Lamas.

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. Mineo's last motion picture role was a small part in the film Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971); he played the chimpanzee Dr. Milo.

Mineo stage-directed a Gian Carlo Menotti opera entitled The Medium in December 1972 in Detroit. [15] Muriel Costa-Greenspon portrayed the title character, Madame Flora, and Mineo played the mute Toby. In 1975, Mineo appeared as Rachman Habib, the assistant to a murderous consular head of a Middle Eastern country, in the Columbo episode "A Case of Immunity," on NBC-TV. Mineo also appeared in two episodes of Hawaii Five-O , in 1968 and 1975. One of his last roles was a guest spot on the TV series S.W.A.T. (1975), in which he portrayed a cult leader similar to Charles Manson.

By 1976, Mineo's career had begun to turn around. [16] 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; he moved to Los Angeles along with the play.

Personal life

Mineo met English-born actress Jill Haworth on the set of the film Exodus in 1960, in which they portrayed young lovers. Mineo and Haworth were together on-and-off for many years. They were engaged to be married at one point, though she cancelled the engagement when she became aware of an affair Sal was having with singer Bobby Sherman. [17] The two did remain very close friends until Mineo's death. [17] [18] Mineo expressed disapproval of Haworth's brief relationship with the much older television producer Aaron Spelling. One night, when Mineo found Haworth and Spelling at a private Beverly Hills nightclub, he punched Spelling in the face, yelling, "Do you know how old she is? What are you doing with her at your age?" [17] While some have described Haworth as being nothing but a close friend and a "beard" to Mineo to conceal his same-sex partners, [19] Michael G. Michaud, author of Sal Mineo: A Biography, denies this claim; Michaud describes Mineo and Haworth's relationship as a normal heterosexual relationship, avers that Mineo fell in love with Haworth, and states that Mineo regarded her as one of the most important people in his life. [17]

In a 1972 interview with Boze Hadleigh, Mineo discussed his bisexuality. [20] At the time of his death, he was in a six-year relationship with male actor Courtney Burr III. [17] [21]


The footstone of Sal Mineo (and his brother, Michael Mineo) in the Gate of Heaven Cemetery in New York State 1 Sal Mineo cr.jpg
The footstone of Sal Mineo (and his brother, Michael Mineo) in the Gate of Heaven Cemetery in New York State

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. [22] [23] Mineo was stabbed just once, but the knife blade struck his heart. [24]

He was buried at Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Hawthorne, New York. [25]

In March 1979, pizza deliveryman Lionel Ray Williams was sentenced to 57 years in prison for killing Mineo and for committing ten robberies in the same area. [26] 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. [16]


1955 Six Bridges to Cross Jerry (boy)Screen début
1955 The Private War of Major Benson Cadet Col. Sylvester Dusik
1955 Rebel Without a Cause John "Plato" CrawfordNominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
1956 Crime in the Streets Angelo "Baby" Gioia, a.k.a. Bambino
1956 Somebody Up There Likes Me Romolo
1956 Giant Angel Obregón II
1956 Rock, Pretty Baby Angelo Barrato
1957 Dino Dino Minetta
1957 The Young Don't Cry Leslie "Les" Henderson
1958 Tonka White Bull
1959 A Private's Affair Luigi Maresi
1959 The Gene Krupa Story Gene Krupa
1960 Exodus Dov Landau Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture
Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
1962 Escape from Zahrain Ahmed
1962 The Longest Day Pvt. Martini
1964 Cheyenne Autumn Red Shirt
1965 The Greatest Story Ever Told Uriah
1965 Who Killed Teddy Bear? Lawrence Sherman
1967 Stranger on the Run George Blaylock
1969 Krakatoa, East of Java Leoncavallo Borghese
1969 80 Steps to Jonah Jerry Taggart
1971 Escape from the Planet of the Apes Dr. Milo

Television work

1952 The Vision of Father Flanagan LesTV Movie
1952 A Woman For The Ages CharlesTV 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 HimselfEpisodes 10.42, 10.48
1957 Kraft Suspense Theatre Tony Russo"Barefoot Soldier", "Drummer Man"
1957 Kraft Music Hall HimselfEpisode 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?"
1966Combat!Vinnick"Nothing to Lose"
1966Combat!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 WilkesTV Movie
1967 Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre Doctoroff"A Song Called Revenge"
1967 Stranger on the Run George BlaylockTV 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 BrackenFlip Side
1970 The Challengers Angel de AngeloTV Movie
1970The Name of the GameWade Hillary"So Long, Baby, and Amen"
1971 My Three Sons Jim Bell"The Liberty Bell"
1971 The Immortal Tsinnajinni"Sanctuary"
1971 Dan August Mort Downes"The Worst Crime"
1971 In Search of America NickTV Movie
1971 How to Steal an Airplane Luis OrtegaTV Movie
1972 The Family Rico Nick RicoTV 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"
1975Hawaii Five-OEddie"Hit Gun for Sale"
1975Harry OBroker"Elegy for a Cop"
1975 SWAT Roy"Deadly Tide: Parts 1 and 2"
1975SWAT'Joey Hopper"A Coven of Killers"
1975Police StoryFobbes"Test of Brotherhood"
1976 Ellery Queen James Danello"The Adventure of the Wary Witness"
1976 Joe Forrester Parma"The Answer", (final appearance)

See also

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  3. Guía del cine clásico: Protagonistas - Antonio Mendez - Google Books. Retrieved 2012-04-16.
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  12. [What's My Line? - Sal Mineo; Ernie Kovacs (panel); Martin Gabel (panel) (Jun 30, 1957)]
  13. Vogel, Carol (2005-09-30). "Exposure for a Nude". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-07-22.
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  18. Michael Gregg Michaud. "The Relevance of Sal Mineo" . Retrieved September 29, 2015.
  19. "Cause Célèbre—A Review Of Sal Mineo: A Biography & Interview With The Author" . Retrieved September 29, 2015.
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  21. Matthew Carey. "Book helps rediscover murdered Hollywood star". CNN. Retrieved September 29, 2015.
  22. Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 368. ISBN   1-904994-10-5.
  23. "Obituary". Variety . February 18, 1976. p. 126.
  24. Rachael Bell (2008). "The Switchblade Kid: The Life and Death of Sal Mineo". TruTV . Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. Archived from the original on 2008-05-28. Retrieved 2008-07-12. The autopsy revealed that Sal died of a single stab wound to the heart.Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  25. Wilson, Scott. Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed.: 2 (Kindle Locations 32658-32659). McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. Kindle Edition.
  26. "Actor Sal Mineo Is Stabbed to Death". Los Angeles Times. 2006-02-12. Retrieved 2008-07-20.


Further reading