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"In the Spotlight"

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I always think of her in All the King's Men, but I have also heard her in some of her radio performances, such as doing parts on I Love A Mystery. She was very talented. And I always felt a little scary. I didn't know that about her son.

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Mercedes McCambridge gave the most realistic reaction when John Ireland slapped her in 1950's, "All the Kings Men". I have a VHS copy of this movie and every time I get to that part, I rewind it to see it again! She was quite an actress and deserves the walk of fame honors. This is a great thread, one that I look forward to seeing, who will be "In the Spotlight" next. Keep 'em coming Mongo!

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In the Spotlight: Tom Neal


Thomas Neal was born January 28, 1914 and was famous for appearing in the critically lauded film-noir "Detour", and for his off-screen antics.


Born to a wealthy family in Evanston, Illinois, Tom Neal debuted on the Broadway stage in 1935.

In 1938 he first appeared in film in "Out West with the Hardys", part of the Mickey Rooney "Hardy family" movie series. That same year, he received a law degree from Harvard University. While in college at Northwestern and Harvard Universities, Neal was a stand-out on the schools boxing teams. He compiled a 44-3 (41 knockouts) ring record.


Neal appeared in many low budget b-movies in the 40s and early 50s. In 1941 he starred with Frances Gifford in the Republic Pictures 15 episode serial, "Jungle Girl". Perhaps his most memorable role was that of Al Roberts in the classic film noir "Detour" alongside Ann Savage. They went on to make five movies together including "Klondike Kate", "Two-Man Submarine", and "The Unwriten Code".


He also appeared in "Within the Law", "Another Thin Man", "Sky Murder", "One Thrilling Night", "Flying Tigers" with Wayne, "Bowery at Midnight" with Lugosi, "China Girl" with Gene Tierney, "Behind the Rising Sun" as an Asian, "Crime, Inc.", "Blonde Alibi", "The Brute Man" with Rondo Hatton, "Beyond Glory" with Alan Ladd, etc.


In 1951, he took to violence against aristocratic actor Franchot Tone. The fight broke out because of their mutual girlfriend, actress Barbara Payton. Neal, a former college boxer, inflicted upon Tone a smashed cheekbone, a broken nose and a brain concussion.

After the incident Tone and Payton married and Neal had a difficult time finding work. He ended up supporting himself landscaping and gardening. Payton left Tone after only seven weeks of marriage and returned to the troubled Neal. Their relationship lasted four years.


Neal remarried almost immediately and in 1957 fathered a son. His wife died the following year from cancer. In 1961, Neal married for the third time, to Gale Bennett. Four years later, he shot her in the back of the head with a .45-caliber gun, ending her life instantly. He was arrested and, although prosecutors sought the death penalty, he was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to ten years in prison, of which he served 6 years.


On December 7, 1971, he was released on parole, having served exactly six years.

Eight months later in August of 1972, Tom Neal died of heart failure in North Hollywood, California at the age of 58. He was cremated, and his ashes stored in the vault at the Chapel of the Pines Crematory in Los Angeles.


His son Tom Neal Jr. starred in a 1992 remake of "Detour", which is on VHS.


Needless to say this tough-guy actor does not have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

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I didn't know about his family background before---did he become estranged from them, I wonder? Why else would he have to support himself as a gardener. What a troubled man!


Miss G

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dditional tidbits on the life of Tom Neal:


Low-budget film noir hero Tom Neal earned some notoriety at an early age when his banker father persuaded him to drop the idea of eloping with Inez Martin, a buxom former Follies girl and the mistress of slain mobster Arnold Rothstein.


He later performed opposite Maria Ouspenskaya in "Daughters of Artreus", but although critically acclaimed, the play was yet another box-office failure and Neal hightailed it to Sunny California.


Prior to his postwar notoriety, Neal broke into pictures trading on his brawny shoulders and baby face. He'd narrowly missed winning a lead in John Ford's "The Hurricane".


Upon his release from prison, he shared a Studio City apartment with his young son. One morning, Tom Jr. entered his father's bedroom to say goodbye before leaving for school and found Tom Sr. dead from heart failure just 18 months after his release.


Nothing is mentioned about his relationship with his parents, who most likely became disenchanted with his behavior.

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Wow,What a life...6yrs. for killing your wife. I guess L.A. is the place to be if you want to kill your spouse...Just ask O.J. and Robert Blake.... ;)

Detour is still a great film...




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