|Sal Mineo, Google images, 14 Jan 2018|
He was born in 1939 to Josephine and Salvatore Mineo. His father, Salvatore Sr., was a carpenter, starting a coffin making company during the Great Depression. Sal Jr. was known as "Junior". He and his sister were enrolled in a local dance academy. Students were featured on a neighborhood New York variety show. Sal was only 10 at the time, but he was becoming one of the noticed kids from the Broadway talent scouts.
Before the age of 13, Junior was cast in The Rose Tatoo, and later after his 13th birthday, he was cast in The King and I . It was his experience at meeting and working with professionals (Maureen Stapleton, Eli Wallach, Yul Brynner, etc.) that gave him the edge over the other kids. He continued his gigs on Broadway during the early 1950s.
Hollywood called his name in 1954, and two years later Sal had an Oscar nomination and had roles in five films. His role in Rebel Without a Cause earned him the academy award nomination. He got his first taste of the Hollywood rumor mill when there were allegations of having relations with James Dean, and Natalie Wood.
Living in Hollywood really did not suit him much, so he would spend little time there unless he had contract work. The old neighborhood in New York called him name. It was familiar territory. Sal's mother handled his finances, instead of hiring a Hollywood rat. He had become a star. A heart-throb for all American girls to follow.
Along with the acting career, Sal was courted by many companies who wanted him to endorse their products. Cars, Hair products and other such items were shown to him and promises of never needing to buy those for himself in return for his compliments on them.
But things did not stay all dreamy for the young actor. He did not manage his money very well, and soon found himself with his accounts unattended. He had to pay taxes that he did not know about and ended up selling off most of his expensive possessions. His home, his car, his boat and his hired help all had to go. He had to return to work, so accepting roles that put him in a stereotyped "Switchblade Kid" was the norm.
In 1976, he was set to appear at the Los Angeles Westwood Playhouse. At about 9:30 in the evening on the 12th of February, Sal was stabbed to death in the alleyway behind his apartment in West Hollywood. A young pizza delivery man was indicted for the murder, along with a long list of robberies after a few years of detective work. Lionel Williams swore that he did not kill Mineo, but it made no difference. He was convicted. There were no other suspects.
Sad and short life of this young star, along with his costars, James Dean and Natalie Wood, makes their movie, Rebel Without A Cause, a classic. It is still a favorite among movie critics. Other well known works of Sal Mineo were The Greatest Story Ever Told, Exodus and The Gene Krupa Story.
|Rebel Without a Cause, Google images, 14 Jan 2018|
So, what do you think? Did the pizza guy really kill Sal? His girlfriend said she saw blood all over his shirt that evening when he returned home from work. Or, was it pizza sauce?