Mineo, born in New York, was the son of Sicilian emigrants, was enrolled by his mother in dancing and acting school at an early age.
After a few lesser films, his breakthrough was Rebel Without A Cause (1955), in which he gave an impressive performance as "John 'Plato' Crawford", the gay teen smitten with James Dean's "Jim Stark".
While explicit mention of homosexuality was not permissible in Hollywood movies at the time, bisexual James Dean dared Mineo to let his real-life desires for Dean shine through considerably in the scenes with him.
Mineo was later reunited with Dean in Giant, albeit only in a few scenes.
His slightly exotic good looks also earned him roles such as that of an Indian boy in Tonka or of a Jewish emigrant in Otto Preminger's Exodus, for which he received another Academy Award nomination.
In the 1960s, rumors about his sexual orientation began to spread, prompting Hollywood's increasing reluctance to cast him in A-list movies.
Thus, he turnded to the stage again, producing the gay-themed Fortune And Men's Eyes, starring Don Johnson of later Miami Vice fame.
Coming home from an audition for the play, P.S. Your Cat Is Dead (later to be adapted into a movie by Police Academy's Steve Guttenberg), where he was to play a gay burglar, Mineo was stabbed to death at age 37 in front of his West Hollywood home.
Although a man called Lionel Ray Williams was later sentenced for life for supposedly killing Mineo, considerable doubts about Williams' involvement in the crime remained, since there apparently was no immediate motive for the murder.
Sal Mineo is interred in the Gate of Heaven Cemetery, Hawthorne, New York.
Sal Mineo Facts
|Birth Name||Salvatore Mineo Jr.|
|Birthday||January 19, 1939|
|Birthplace||Bronx, New York, USA|
|Date of death||February 12, 1976 (age 37)|
|Awards||1961 Golden Globe Awards: Best Actor in a Supporting Role - Motion Picture (for Exodus)|