He was a Hollywood Actor, not a singer, but he sold a million records in 1957. I liked him much better as an actor and he did portray the great Gene Krupa in the “Gene Krupa Story”. Sadly though he would be murdered in 1976.
(January 10, 1939 – February 12, 1976)
Actor Sal Mineo enjoyed great success as a teen idol during the late ’50s, shooting to fame opposite James Dean in the perennial Rebel Without a Cause.
Born January 10, 1939, in the Bronx, NY, Mineo was an incorrigible youth, tossed out of parochial school and, by age eight, a member of a street gang. In an attempt to reform her son, his mother enrolled him in dancing school; still, he persisted in running wild until he was arrested for robbery in 1949. Given the choice between juvenile confinement or professional acting school, Mineo chose the latter.
Two years later, he appeared on Broadway in Tennessee Williams‘ The Rose Tattoo, followed by a prominent role in The King and I opposite Yul Brynner.
He made his film debut in 1955’s Six Bridges to Cross, followed by the Charlton Heston vehicle The Private War of Major Benson. Mineo closed out the year portraying the ill-fated Plato in the Nicholas Ray classic Rebel Without a Cause; diminutive and sad-eyed, his performance perfectly captured the film’s themes of youthful desperation, and struck a chord with audiences as well as critics, earning him a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award nomination.
For the remainder of the decade, Mineo remained a high-profile screen presence, co-starring in films including 1956’s Giant and Somebody up There Likes Me.
In 1957, he also attempted to mount a career as a pop singer, scoring a pair of Top 40 hits with “Start Movin’ (In My Direction)” and “Lasting Love.” In 1959, Mineo starred as the titular jazz drummer in the film biography The Gene Krupa Story, and a year later earned a second Oscar nomination for his work in Exodus.
In 1962, he co-starred in The Longest Day, but then the offers stopped coming in. Apart from 1965’s The Greatest Story Ever Told, the majority of his subsequent projects were low-budget offerings, and eventually he turned almost exclusively to television.
In an attempt to shed his youthful image, Mineo also returned to theatre to direct the 1969 drama Fortune and Men’s Eyes, which enjoyed successful runs on both coasts.
He still continued acting, but by the time of 1971’s Escape From the Planet of the Apes, he had literally been reduced to playing a monkey; it was his last major screen appearance.
Mineo’s life came to a tragic end on the night of February 12, 1976, when he was brutally stabbed on the streets of West Hollywood; he was only 37 years old, and virtually broke at the time of his death. His murderer received a sentence of life imprisonment three years later.
Arrest and conviction in Mineo’s murder
A pizza deliveryman, Lionel Ray Williams, was arrested, convicted, and sentenced to 57 years in prison for killing Mineo and for committing 10 robberies in the same area. Although there was considerable confusion as to what witnesses had seen in the darkness on the night Mineo was murdered, it was later revealed that prison guards had overheard Williams admitting to the stabbing. Williams had claimed that he had no idea who Mineo was. Williams was paroled in the early 1990s, but he was imprisoned again soon for other criminal activity.