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"In the Spotlight"


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ANOTHER great pic of this Queen of Good-Natured Tranquility, Mongo!

Will ya look at the wattage in that smile!

("On-hunhh, you bes' believe it!")

Obviously, LB was a performer both "bright" & "brilliant", in all senses of the terms!

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In the Spotlight: Sal Mineo

 

 

Salvatore "Sal" Mineo, Jr. born January 10, 1939 in The Bronx, New York City as the son of a Sicilian coffin maker, was enrolled by his mother in dancing and acting school at an early age.

 

Mineo had his first stage appearance in "The Rose Tattoo" (1950), a play by Tennessee Williams. He also played the young prince opposite Yul Brynner in the stage musical "The King and I".

 

After a few more film and television appearances his breakthrough was "Rebel Without A Cause" (1955) in which he gave an impressive performance as John "Plato" Crawford, the sensitive teenager smitten with James Dean's Jim Stark. Mineo received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

 

His 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 was later reunited with Dean in "Giant" (1956), although only in a few scenes.

 

Many of his subsequent roles were variations of his role in "Rebel Without a Cause" and he often played juvenile delinquents.

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.

Other films include, "Six Bridges to Cross" with Tony Curtis, "Crime in the Streets", "Somebody Up There Likes me", "Dino", "The Young Don't Cry", etc.

By the late 1950s the actor was a major celebrity, sometimes referred to as the "Switchblade Kid."

 

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. He starred as drummer Gene Krupa in the movie "The Gene Krupa Story" (1959), 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" (1960) for which he received another Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actor (and reportedly was bitterly disappointed when he didn't win.) Although he did win the Golden Globe award. He was reported to be engaged to co-star Jill Haworth.

 

By the early 1960s he was getting too old to play the types that had made him famous and for a variety of reasons wasn't considered appropriate for leading roles, although he did appear in "The Longest Day" and "Cheyenne Autumn".

He auditioned for David Lean's film "Lawrence of Arabia" but wasn't 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?" (1965), co-starring Carol Lynley, didn't 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 Manson-like cult leader.)

Appearing on numerous TV shows, he was nominated for an Emmy Award.

 

He returned to the stage to produce the gay-themed "Fortune and Men's Eyes" (1971), starring Don Johnson of later "Miami Vice" fame. Although the play got positive reviews in Los Angeles, it was panned during a run in New York and its expanded prison rape scene was criticized as excessive and prurient. A string of failed projects and flops followed. A small role in "Escape from the Planet of the Apes" (1971) as chimpanzee Dr. Milo turned out to be Mineo's last movie appearance.

 

By 1976 Mineo's career seemed to be turning around again. 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.

Investigators reportedly found gay pornography in his home and assumed that such men would only have their sexuality as a defining mark in every aspect of their life.

John Lennon once put up the reward money to find Mineo's killer.

 

A career criminal named Lionel Ray Williams was later sentenced to life in prison for killing Mineo. Although there was considerable confusion relating to what witnesses had seen in the darkness the night Mineo was murdered, Williams was reported to have boasted of the crime, which turned out to be a botched mugging.

At the time of the murder, Williams had no idea who Sal Mineo was. Williams was paroled in 1990, after serving twelve years, but was jailed numerous times afterwards for parole violations.

 

Mineo is interred in the Cemetery of the Gate of Heaven in Hawthorne, New York.

 

Quoted: "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."

 

A little-known facet of Mineo's career was his involvement with opera.

 

The falling star does not have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

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Years ago my Mom saw "The Rose Tattoo" on Broadway with Mineo and Maureen Stapleton as Serafina Delle Rose and I believe it was Eli Wallach as Alvaro Mangiacavallo. She always told me the Marisa Pavan part was a male in the play.

I always liked Mineo, sad he was murdered. What a waste of a great actor..

Other actor without a star....(sad)

 

 

vallo

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I'll add my positive feelings toward Mineo. I was crazy about him from the first time I ever saw him - don't even remember in what. He had a great depth of expression from the youngest age, and should have been given much better roles than he got.

 

He was remarkable in The Gene Krupa Story, although the film itself wasn't that good. He was only 20 when he played that role. Unfotunately, in his day looking "ethnic" was like a death knell. There were only certain parts you could get, and any aspirations beyond those parts were met with derision. I think he was egregiously wasted in most of the films he was in, with of course those exceptions where he was allowed to show what he really could do.

 

I don't even want to think about the senseless circumstances of his death. A waste, for sure.

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Yes, I've heard the same. I never met him, but I've met many people who did know him, he being a New Yorker and all, and I never heard a single negative comment about him, either professionally or personally. I'm getting sad now, thinking about him.

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vallo, mineo appeared in the stage play "The Rose Tattoo" in 1951 when he was 12 years old. His characters' name was Salvatore.

The part of Serafina's daughter Rosa was played by actress Phyllis Love.

 

Oops. The name of the actress who appeared with Mineo in "Who Killed Teddy Bear" is Juliet Prowse and not Carol Lynley as I stated.

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