SAL MINEO BIOGRAPHY
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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).
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.
"I'll never be mistaken for Pat Boone" (1975)
"I lost because I had appeared 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.
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.