Monday, January 10, 2011

In Memoriam: Sal Mineo

His breakthrough role in the film Rebel Without A Cause (1955) is haunting still, likely because his own tragic end contributed in its way to the film's reputed 'curse'; like Mineo himself, his costars James Dean and Natalie Wood also met untimely deaths.

PhotobucketBorn in The Bronx on this day in 1939, Sal Mineo began attending acting and dancing schools at a young age with the support of his mother; he appeared on Broadway in Tennessee Williams' play The Rose Tattoo (1950) and opposite Yul Brynner and Gertrude Lawrence in The King and I (1951).

Following the success of Rebel it was easy for Hollywood to typecast him, and he subsequently played a string of juvenile delinquents, even though his character in that film was no delinquent himself. Late in his career he was still being typecast, more often than not as outright criminals.

Mineo recorded a string of songs in the mid-Fifties - two of which went as high as the Top 40 - and later he further demonstrated his musical abilities by playing the drummer Gene Krupa in the 1957 movie The Gene Krupa Story. As suddenly as his star had risen, though, so did it fall; his last film role came after a long respite from Hollywood (during which time he appeared in plays and on television) when he played Dr. Milo in Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971).

Mineo was murdered in February 1976 during a botched mugging; his killer, Lionel Ray Williams, was sentenced to life in prison but was paroled in 1990.
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