|Birthname:||Salvatore Mineo, Jr.|
|Born:||January 10, 1939|
|Birthplace:||The Bronx, New York|
|Deathplace:||West Hollywood, California|
|Othername:||The Switchblade Kid|
|Goldenglobeawards:||Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture|
Salvatore Mineo, Jr. (January 10, 1939 – February 12, 1976), better known as Sal Mineo, was a Golden Globe-winning American film and theatre actor, best known for his Academy Award-nominated performance opposite James Dean in the film Rebel Without a Cause.
Mineo had his first stage appearance in The Rose Tattoo (1951), a play by Tennessee Williams. He also played the young prince opposite Yul Brynner in the stage musical The King and I. Brynner took the opportunity to help a young Mineo better himself as an actor.
After film and television appearances, his breakthrough was Rebel Without A Cause, 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 fan letters from young female admirers, was mobbed by them at public appearances and further wrote, "He dated the most beautiful women in Hollywood and New York."
Mineo played a Mexican boy in Giant (1956), 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, for instance, Mineo starred as a young Sioux named White Bull who traps and domesticates a clear-eyed, spirited wild horse named "Tonka" who becomes the famous horse Comanche.
In his book, Multiculturalism And The Mouse: Race and Sex in Disney Entertainment (2006), Douglas Brode states that the very 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.
In 1957, Mineo made a brief foray into music by recording a handful of songs and an album. Two of his singles reached the Top 40 pop charts. The more popular of the two, "Start Movin' (In My Direction)", reached #9 on Billboard's Pop chart. He starred as drummer Gene Krupa in the movie The Gene Krupa Story, co-starring Susan Kohner, James Darren, and Susan Oliver, and directed by Don Weis.
Meanwhile, Mineo made an effort to break his typecasting. His acting ability and exotic good looks earned him not only roles as a Native American boy in Tonka, but also as a Jewish emigrant in Otto Preminger's Exodus, for which he won a Golden Globe Award and received another Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actor.
By the early 1960s, he was becoming too old to play the type of role that had made him famous and was not considered appropriate for leading roles. He auditioned for David Lean's film Lawrence of Arabia but was not hired. 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."
His role as a stalker in Who Killed Teddy Bear?, co-starring 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; one of his last roles was a guest spot on the 1975 TV series S.W.A.T. playing a Charles Manson-like cult leader.) He returned to the stage to produce the 1971 gay-themed Fortune and Men's Eyes (which starred Don Johnson). The play got positive reviews in Los Angeles, but was panned during a run in New York and its expanded prison rape scene was criticized as excessive and gratuitous. A small role in Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971) as chimpanzee Dr. Milo would be Mineo's last movie appearance. In 1973, Mineo appeared as Gamal Zaki, the president of a Middle Eastern country, who faces an assassination threat in the episode "Prey" of ABC crime drama, Griff, starring Lorne Greene and Ben Murphy.
|1955||Rebel Without a Cause||John "Plato" Crawford|
|1956||Crime in the Streets||Angelo 'Baby' Gioia aka Bambino|
|Somebody Up There Likes Me||Romolo|
|Giant||Angel Obregón II|
|Rock, Pretty Baby||Angelo Barrato|
|The Young Don't Cry||Leslie 'Les' Henderson|
|1959||A Private's Affair||Luigi Maresi|
|The Gene Krupa Story||Gene Krupa|
|rowspan=2||1962||Escape from Zahrain||Ahmed|
|The Longest Day||Pvt. Martini|
|1964||Cheyenne Autumn||Red Shirt|
|rowspan=2||1965||The Greatest Story Ever Told||Uriah|
|Who Killed Teddy Bear||Lawrence Sherman|
|rowspan=2||1969||Krakatoa, East of Java||Leoncavallo Borghese|
|80 Steps to Jonah||Jerry Taggart|
|1971||Escape from the Planet of the Apes||Dr. Milo|
By 1976 Mineo's career was turning around. Playing the role of a gay burglar in a San Francisco run of the stage comedy P.S. Your Cat Is Dead, he received substantial publicity from many positive reviews and moved on to Los Angeles with the play. Arriving home after a rehearsal on February 12 1976, Mineo was stabbed to death in the alley behind a West Hollywood apartment building. He was 37 years old. He was stabbed just once, not repeatedly as first reported, but the blade struck his heart, leading to immediate and massive internal bleeding. Mineo was interred at the Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Hawthorne, New York.
According to Warren Johansson and William A. Percy's Outing: Shattering the Conspiracy of Silence, he was murdered under circumstances that suggested "a homosexual motive". Mineo identified himself as bisexual in a 1972 interview, published after his death, but his biography notes that he dated men exclusively in the last years of his life.
A pizza deliveryman, Lionel Ray Williams, was sentenced to 57 years in prison for killing Mineo and committing 10 robberies in the same vicinity.Although there was considerable confusion relating to what witnesses had seen in the darkness the night Mineo was murdered, it was later that prison guards reportedly overheard Williams admitting to the crime. Williams claimed he had no idea who Mineo was. Williams was paroled in the early 1990s, but was soon jailed again for criminal activity.
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.
Sal Mineo was the model for Harold Stevenson's painting The New Adam. The painting is currently part of Guggenheim Museum's permanent collection, and is considered "one of the great American nudes".