Recently one of our readers, Page, commented the following about Sal Mineo:
Sal Mineo was a talented, rather understated actor. There’s a modern-day feel to him, and you can see the influence in today’s actors from the likes of this older generation, and he is no exception.
Contrast was that Mineo was so young at that time (nominated for two Oscars by the age of 21) yet his work is that of a seasoned natural.
I hate that he gets so overlooked.
Well Page, we’re not going to overlook Sal.
Most people remember him from 1955’s Rebel Without a Cause, his first Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor, where he portrayed James Dean’s coded gay young friend, the adoring and parentally neglected John ‘Plato’ Crawford.
He then appeared in a small role in Giant. Was nominated again for his part in Exodus, and was a major star and teenage heartthrob.
He had a long relationship with Exodus costar Jill Haworth, but later came out as gay.
He continued acting but branched out into producing and directing as well. His career seemed to wane, then was again on the rise when he was murdered in Los Angeles just before he was set to open in a play there. On Feb. 12, 1976, he was stabbed to death while parking his car in a garage behind his West Hollywood apartment.
At the time their were rumors that his death was gay connected, but it was later proved that it was just a random robbery and slaying by a pizza deliveryman who was responsible for several other similar crimes.
His death was a great loss of a talented individual with many facets. He had been a model as well as a performer and rock singer. He’d posed for the artist Harold Stevenson’s famous painting, The New Adam, which is in the permanent collection at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City. It’s a distinctively large work, oil on linen spread over nine panels and installed as a three-wall wraparound. There’s Sal in fully exposed glory.
Mineo was also an opera buff and performed in as well as directed operas.
Consider Mineo is an early icon of Gay Culture since he was honest about his sexuality long before any other major star.