Birth name: Salvatore Mineo Jr.
Nicknames: The Switchblade Kid, Jr
Date of birth (location) 10 January 1939, Harlem, New York, USA
Date of death (details) 12 February 1976, West Hollywood, California, USA. (homicide)

Salvatore Mineo Jr. was born to Josephine and Sal Sr. (a casket maker), who emigrated to the USA from Sicily. Sal's siblings were Michael, Victor and Sarina. His mother enrolled him in dancing and acting school and, he soon began making tiny appearances on local tv shows before the
tender age of 10. The acting bug had bitten young Sal and he was a natural!

He soon appeared in the theatrical production "The Rose Tatoo" with Maureen Stapleton and Eli Wallach, and as the young prince in "The King and I" with Gertrude Lawrence and Yul Brynner.

At age 16 he played a boy in the film of Six Bridges to Cross (1955) with Tony Curtis and later that same year played Plato in James Dean's Rebel Without A Cause (1955).  He was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his role in this movie and again for the role of Dov Landau in Exodus (1960).

Expanding his repertoire, Sal returned to the theatre to direct and star in the play "Fortune And Men's Eyes" with successful runs in both New York and Los Angeles. In the late '60s and '70s, Sal continued to work steadily in supporting roles on TV and in film, including Dr. Milo in Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971) and Such Dust As Dreams Are Made On (1973).

In 1975, he returned to the stage in the San Francisco hit production of "P.S. Your Cat Is Dead".  Preparing to open the play in Los Angeles in 1976 with Keir Dullea, he returned home from rehearsal the evening of February 12th where he was attacked and stabbed to death by a stranger. In 1979, Lionel Ray Williams was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for the murder.

Although taken away far too soon, the memory of Sal Mineo continues to live on through the large body of TV and film work that he left behind.


Trivia
Brother of actor Michael Mineo. 
  • In 1957 'Sal Mineo' tried to start a career as a Rock 'N' Roll singer, he released two singles. The first was Start Movin' (In My Direction),
    it stayed in the USA top 40 for 13 weeks and reached the no. 9 position. The second was Lasting Love, that stayed in for 3 weeks and reached no. 27. The singles were followed up by an album on the Epic label. The album became an instant hit, selling over a million copies.  In the UK the records were released on the Philips label. Grew up on East 213th Street in the Olinville section of the Bronx. Once hung out with the Hell's Angels motorcycle group while researching a role.. 
  • While filming the classic film epic, "Exodus," Sal fell in love with his
    co-star, actress Jill Haworth, and the couple began a romance that lasted for many years.
  • In the late 1960's, Sal discovered he also was attracted to men and was probably the first major actor in Hollywood to publicly admit his homosexual lifestyle,and was a pioneer in paving the way for future generations of gay actors.
  •  It was rumored for years that Mineo's 1976 knifing death was a result of his homosexual life style. Not true. In 1979, the killer was caught and convicted - he was the victim of a robbery. 
Personal quotes
"I'll never be mistaken for Pat Boone" (1975)
"I lost because I hadappeared in a pro-Jewish picture, played a sympathetic Jewish boy, and shot four Arabs." -- Sal Mineo, in explaining why he lost an important role in Lawrence of Arabia (which filmed in Jordan), after completing work on Exodus.

Biography from Leonard Maltin's Movie Encyclopedia:
Back in the mid 1950s, Mineo was one of the most talented and exciting adolescent actors working in Hollywood. He earned his acting stripes on Broadway, appearing first in "The Rose Tattoo" (1951) and then in "The King and I" (1952), taking over  the role of Yul Brynner's son. He effortlessly made the transition to the screen, appearing in Six Bridges to Cross and The Private War of Major Benson (both 1955) before earning celluloid immortality opposite James Dean and Natalie Wood in the teen angst classic Rebel Without a Cause (1955). For his role as the soulful, abandoned Plato, he earned a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award nomination. 

Mineo went on to play variations of the role in such films as

  • Crime in the Streets (1956)
  • Dino (1957)
  • and The Young Don't Cry (1957)
He was also featured in
  • Somebody Up There Likes Me
  • Rock, Pretty Baby and
  • Giant (all 1956).
He starred in 
  • Walt Disney's Tonka (1958, as a Sioux brave)
  • A Private's Affair (1959)
  • The Gene Krupa Story (1959, in the title role),
and received another Oscar nomination for his last important role, the young Holocaust survivor Don Landau in
  • Exodus. (1960).

Mineo was just another face among the all-star casts in
  • The Longest Day (1962)
  • The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965)
but John Ford gave him a good part in
  • Cheyenne Autumn (1964) playing an Indian named Red Shirt.

In 1969, he directed
  • "Fortune and Men's Eyes", a drama of homosexuality behind bars, on the Los Angeles and Broadway stages.

By this time he was finding it tougher and tougher to find good parts; his later films include
  • Who Killed Teddy Bear? (1965)
  • 80 Steps to Jonah
  • Krakatoa, East of Java (both 1969)
  • Escape From the Planet of the Apes (1971).

He was stabbed to death outside his Hollywood apartment in 1976



We hope you all enjoy our website, and continue to visit, and remember the great legacy that is Sal Mineo.