Autograph Letter Signed - 1955
A very personal Autograph Letter Signed by Sal Mineo, to “Rosalind”, dated September 9, 1955, when the young actor was just 16 years old. With original envelope postmarked New York, September 10, 1955, also in Mineo’s hand; plus an original photograph of Mineo and friends taken by the letter’s recipient. Lightly toned, mainly at the folds, integral leaf intact. In full:
September 9, 1955
I received your letter and I’m getting ready now to answer all your questions. Don’t feel bad, they’re the same questions all the time. I think I’m used to it now.
Let’s see, first, I have two brothers and one sister (21 years, 18 years, 13 years old), none in show business. (I’m the only black sheep). I hope to go to college and still continue my career.
I do like acting very much and the most important or best feeling is when the results of a picture I’ve done are good.
I’ve been on Broadway and I’ve done T.V. in N.Y. I only go to Calif. to do a picture. My home is in N.Y.
Well that’s about it Rosalind. I hope you’ll excuse my handwriting. I’ve had a very busy day to day. (Some excuse huh?).
P.S. I’m 16½ 17 in Jan 10.
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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