Cover image for Sal Mineo : his life, murder, and mystery
Sal Mineo : his life, murder, and mystery
Jeffers, H. Paul (Harry Paul), 1934-2009.
[Large print edition].
Publication Information:
Thorndike, Me. : Thorndike Press, 2001.

Physical Description:
447 pages, 24 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 23 cm
General Note:
Originally published: New York : Carroll & Graf, 2000.

Includes index.
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library PN2287.M6438 J44 2000B Adult Large Print - Floating collection Floating Collection - Large Print

On Order



This series' focus is high-profile titles that are being discussed in the media -- biographies of people in the news, literary figures, musicians, politicians, TV and film celebrities, and of people who have influenced history in some way.Sal Mineo grew up tough and moved fast -- from the Bronx to Broadway to Hollywood. At sixteen, he received an Oscar nomination for his role in the 1955 James Dean film Rebel Without a Cause, and in 1961 Exodus won him a second. Yet, by the end of the decade, he was a movie has-been. Out of favor and out of work, he returned to the theater, but, in 1976 he was stabbed to death. Revisiting the mystery that surrounds his murder, this long-overdue biography and personal remembrance sifts the facts from the fictions that have shrouded Sal Mineo's short life.

Author Notes

H. Paul Jeffers has published biographies of Theodore Roosevelt and Grover Cleveland as well as numerous true-crime books. He knew Sal Mineo intimately during the last seven years of his life. Jeffers lives in New York City

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Sal Mineo was gay and initially unhappy about it, Jeffers says. Although his family never accepted it, he eventually embraced his homosexuality, which allowed him to understand his feelings for James Dean during the filming of Rebel without a Cause, which even included a scene, cut before release, in which the two men kissed. At his death in 1976, Mineo was best remembered for that film. Some fans may have known he had come out, but few knew he had become a successful stage director of the gay-themed play Fortune and Men's Eyes, which New York gays rallied round as a kind of liberation statement. Jeffers was closely associated with Mineo, and his warmth toward the one-time "Switchblade Kid" is patent. Mineo's late night murder behind his LA apartment gave the tabloids something to scream about, and it remains unsolved. By that time, the former teenage movie star was, at 37, almost destitute. Its violent end just then made Mineo's story a sad one, told with feeling by an author who cared about him. --Mike Tribby

Publisher's Weekly Review

Small, sinuous and sensuous, Mineo is best remembered for his Academy Award- nominated performance as Plato, the troubled gay teen in love with James Dean in the famed 1955 cult film Rebel Without a Cause, though Mineo's career was far more extensive. His life, which ended in a mysterious street stabbing in 1976 when he was 37, is an emblematic story of early childhood success and a faltering later career. Born in 1939 to immigrant Italian parents in the Bronx, Mineo possessed extraordinary star quality. At age 11, he landed a Broadway role with one line in Tennessee's William's The Rose Tattoo; two years later, he was the understudy for the part of the Crown Prince of Siam in The King and I. After just two films, he was catapulted into stardom in Rebel. But except for an Academy Award nomination for his performance in Exodus in 1960, Mineo's film career was spotty and didn't build momentum. With an easy style and sound reporting, Jeffers (a personal friend of Mineo's and author of numerous books including An Honest President: The Life and Presidencies of Grover Cleveland) has recreated the performer's life with verve and insight. He also provides delicious, though sometimes extraneous, gossip (16-year-old Mineo most probably had affairs with both James Dean and director Nicholas Ray on the set of Rebel). Jeffers's insights into the complicated Hollywood politics that controlled Mineo's up-and-down career will appeal to older film buffs and Rebel fans who will recognize him in the movie still on the jacket, while gay (and straight) readers will be wholly absorbed by his account of how homophobia impeded the search for Mineo's murderer. Targeted marketing to gay readers should boost sales (as it will the title reviewed directly below.) (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Sal Mineo's place in cinema history is assured by his role as Plato in Rebel Without a Cause (1955). After several ensuing films, he was typed as "The Switchblade Kid." Despite talent, drive, and a distinctive personality, Mineo's adult career was harmed, argues Jeffers (Colonel Roosevelt), by Hollywood's search for new faces in the late 1960s and perhaps by revelations of homo- and bisexuality. Jeffers knew Mineo well and covers his subject's New York roots, stage role as the second Crown Prince in The King and I (the most touching part of the narrative is Mineo's friendship with Yul Brynner), TV and film roles, directing Off Broadway, and his 1976 death by stabbing. The text contains minutiae that would better inhabit endnotes beside the welcome appendix of Mineo's acting credits. It also contains a few factual errors (for instance, Robert Wise directed B movies for RKO, not Warner Bros., and Madlyn, not Madeline, Rhue costarred in Escape from Zahrain) and questionably asserts that Spartacus (which competed with Mineo's Exodus at the 1960 Academy Awards) had an irrelevant message. Still, this intimate portrait of an icon of sorts is recommended for public libraries' film or gay studies collections.DKim Holston, American Inst. for Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters, Malvern, PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Prologue: Invitation to Brunch in Boys Townp. xi
1 "The Kid's Got a Glow"p. 1
2 Wrong for the Partp. 13
3 Will the World End at Night?p. 23
4 A Giraffe for the Mantelp. 41
5 Mineo Maniap. 48
6 The Switchblade Kidp. 61
7 Dovp. 79
8 Epic Effortsp. 104
9 Who Killed Teddy Bear?p. 111
10 Down but Not Out in Beverly Hillsp. 125
11 Fortune and Men's Eyesp. 131
12 "I Find It Very Baffling"p. 144
13 One-Night Stand in Manhattanp. 156
14 P.S. Your Cat Is Deadp. 162
15 It's a Mysteryp. 170
16 File No. 76-1953p. 175
17 "This Is a Big Deal"p. 185
18 Who Would You Cast?p. 195
Epilogue: Plato Lives!p. 204
Author's Notep. 214
Sal Mineo's Credits
Feature Filmsp. 218
Televisionp. 219
Theaterp. 221
Awardsp. 221
Indexp. 223
About the Authorp. 239

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