SAL MINEO

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Sal Mineo

Extraordinary Autograph Letter Signed - 1955

An intimate and revealing Autograph Letter Signed by Sal Mineo, to "Rosalind", dated August 9, 1955, when the young actor was just 16 years old. With original envelope postmarked New York, NY, August 15, 1955, also in Mineo's hand; together with an original vintage photograph of Mineo and friends taken by the letter's recipient, who was a frequent correspondent. Lightly toned, mainly at the folds, integral leaf intact. In full:

Dear Rosalind,

      Thank you for your very nice letter. I am very glad you liked "Six Bridges to Cross" and "Private War of Major Benson." "Six Bridges to Cross" was my first picture. "Rebel Without a Cause" with James Dean is my third and it will be out soon. I am leaving for California in a few days to do a picture with Rock Hudson and Liz Taylor, "Giant."
      I was born in Bronx New York and I still live in the Bronx. I go to Calif. only when I do a picture. My birthday is Jan 10, I'll be seventeen.
      Well it was nice writing to you, I hope I have given you all the information you wanted.
      I hope, very sincerely, that you will like "Rebel Without a Cause" too.

Bye now,
Sal

P.S.  I have no excuse for my hand-writing but you have your brother as one.

This is an extraordinarily poignant letter from a gifted young actor who died long before his time, having been brutally attacked, robbed, and murdered on his way home from rehearsals for the Los Angeles performance of P.S. Your Cat Is Dead.

Salvatore Mineo, Jr. (1939-1976), better known as Sal Mineo, was an American film and theatre actor, best known for his performance opposite James Dean in the film Rebel Without a Cause.

In 1955—the year he wrote this letter—he appeared in three films: Six Bridges to Cross with Tony Curtis; The Private War of Major Benson with Charleton Heston; and his first big breakthrough in Rebel Without A Cause, in which he played John "Plato" Crawford, the sensitive teenager smitten with Jim Stark (played by James Dean). His performance resulted in an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actor, and his popularity quickly developed. Mineo's biographer, Paul Jeffers, recounted that Mineo received thousands of fan letters from young female admirers, was mobbed by them at public appearances and further wrote, "He dated the most beautiful women in Hollywood and New York."

Mineo played a Mexican boy in Giant (1956), again with James Dean along with Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor. But many of his subsequent roles were variations of his role in Rebel Without a Cause, and he was typecast as a troubled teen.

In 1957, Mineo made a brief foray into music by recording a handful of songs and an album. Two of his singles reached the Top 40 pop charts. The more popular of the two, "Start Movin' (In My Direction)", reached #9 on Billboard's pop chart. He also starred as famed drummer Gene Krupa in the movie The Gene Krupa Story, co-starring Susan Kohner, James Darren, and Susan Oliver, and directed by Don Weis.

By the early 1960s, he was becoming too old to play the type of role that had made him famous and was not considered appropriate for leading roles. He auditioned for David Lean's film Lawrence of Arabia but was not hired. Mineo was baffled by his sudden loss of popularity, later saying "One minute it seemed I had more movie offers than I could handle, the next, no one wanted me."

In the late 1960s, Sal realized he also was attracted to men and was probably the first major actor in Hollywood to publicly admit his homosexual lifestyle, and was a pioneer in paving the way for future generations of gay actors.

By 1976 Mineo's career had begun to turn around. Playing the role of a gay burglar in a San Francisco run of the stage comedy P.S. Your Cat Is Dead, he received substantial publicity from many positive reviews and moved on to Los Angeles with the play. Arriving home after a rehearsal on February 12, 1976, Mineo was stabbed to death in the alley behind his West Hollywood apartment building. He was 37 years old.

 

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