01-10-1939

Sal Mineo

SAL MINEO, American actor was born (d. 1976); A Golden Globe winning American movie and stage actor, best known for his Academy Award-nominated performance opposite James Dean in the film Rebel Without a Cause.

Mineo was born in The Bronx, New York City as the son of a Sicilian coffin maker, was enrolled by his mother in dancing and acting school at an early age. One of the articles of faith of the James Dean cult that grew out of the actor’s early death in 1955 is that Mineo “turned queer” after the auto wreck that took his co-star’s life. As the story goes, young Sal left a séance in which he had attempted in vain to contact his fallen friend, only to wreck his own car. His life was spared, but the words “James Dean” suddenly appeared indelibly on his smashed windshield. Supposedly he was Gay from that moment on. Whatever.

The Hollywood Code of the ‘50s may have dictated that Dean win Natalie Wood and her pointed uplift bra at the end of Rebel Without A Cause, but anyone with half a brain knew that it should have been Mineo’s Plato and Dean’s Jim who embraced at the climax. Sal Mineo grew up to produce the revival of Fortune and Men’s Eyes and to star in a West Coast production of James Kirkwood’s P.S. Your Cat is Dead, both of which enabled him to say without a word “I’m Gay. So what?”

Rumors that he spent his off hours in the company of rough trade have led to lurid speculation about his grisly murder in 1976. Such is Hollywood fame and popular legend that no one wants to believe that, like so many innocent Americans these days, he was “merely” mugged, robbed, and left to die just a few short steps from the safety of his own home.