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Sal Mineo: A Biography Paperback – October 11, 2011

4.4 out of 5 stars 87 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Artist and photographer Michaud delivers a prismatic portrait of actor Mineo, who made 21 films before his brutal 1976 murder. In a childhood leap from the Bronx to Broadway, the 11-year-old Mineo was cast in The Rose Tattoo in 1951 and got acting tips and inspiration from Yul Brynner during The King and I. He made the move to Hollywood and found success at a time when studios were reaching toward the new teen market: Sal fit the bill perfectly. His tough yet sensitive image appealed to both girls and boys. After his memorable scenes with James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause, he became the youngest performer ever nominated for a Best Supporting Oscar. By age 35, however, his film career was over, and he turned his attention to directing theater; it was during this career change that he was stabbed and killed during a robbery attempt. Michaud captures the actor' s passionate, freewheeling lifestyle, and his narrative is dotted with those who worked with him: Dennis Hopper, Janet Leigh, Eva Marie Saint, and James Whitmore. Especially revealing are the intimate insights of Mineo' s fiancée, Jill Haworth, and his male lover Courtney Burr. Detailed coverage of the arrest, trial, and conviction of Mineo' s murderer brings this authoritative biography to a compelling conclusion.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Sal Mineo, the exotic-looking actor who rose to fame in the 1950s, is probably most well known for his performance in Rebel without a Cause and his tragic murder at the age of 37. In this fascinating biography, Michaud outlines the actor’s life, telling how he was born to Sicilian coffin makers in the Bronx and how at the age of 10 he was enrolled by his mother in acting school. In his teens, he rose to stardom with a breakthrough Broadway role opposite Yul Brynner in the The King and I. He soon made the transition to screen, appearing in Rebel, for which he became the youngest person ever to earn an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. His looks and talent soon led to more film roles and also television success, and at the height of his career, Mineo was a major celebrity. As the 1950s and early 1960s waned, the actor found roles hard to come by, although he was starring in a successful play when he was murdered in a botched robbery in 1976. Michaud provides an insider look at Mineo’s life and career. --Kathleen Hughes --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Three Rivers Press; Reprint edition (October 11, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307716678
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307716675
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (87 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,115,677 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By G.I Gurdjieff TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 22, 2010
Format: Hardcover
James Dean? YES. Sal Mineo? NO. I was never a huge fan of Sal's and really didn't get why he attracted much attention for anything other than his unfortunate and confusing death. One might say I was not in the target group for people buying this book. When I walked into the big box bookstore that I frequent when I am not on this site, I opened this book and read three random pages. From there I plunked down my $$$, took the book home, and read---read---read. When I don't take breaks I know what I am reading is great. And GREAT is what this book is from my pov.
Sal's story starts simply enough. The third of four kids from a warm but financially challenged family from the Bronx, Sal's mother enrolls Sal in a dance class to keep him off the mean streets that they call home. Sal has talent, hits the boards, and gets noticed. Eventually, he shares the stage with Yul Brynner and Gertrude Lawrence as one of the King's children in THE KING AND I. Brynner turns out to be an uncharacteristically good guy and mentors Sal. Movies come calling and after an uneventful start, Sal catches some luck and gets cast in Rebel Without A Cause. The rest is history, sort of. A quick study, Sal is an instinctive actor who works hard, strives to improve as an actor, and sees his star ascend through a series of mostly under appreciated movies and a short-lived recording career. Back on the home front, his mother mismanages his hefty earnings and spends it faster than he can earn it with the exception of a mandatory trust fund. When Sal turned 21, his trust fund matured. Because his mother had access to his assets, the proceeds from the trust was disipated quickly. Eventually Sal distances himself from his family and his relationship with them becomes impossible.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you are a fan of Sal Mineo, or of tragic, closeted actors in the 1950's society, you will love this book. I read this book in about 20 hours, I couldn't put it down. I always enjoyed Sal Mineo in the movies, but didnt really know much about his life. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys movie star biographies, because this one is a real page turner!
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Format: Hardcover
I remember hearing the awful news of Sal Mineo's death, stabbed as he walked to his apartment. (though I had to look up the exact date, 2-12-76). I continued to wonder all these years if it was a drug deal gone bad, a lover's quarrel, or a hit. Michaud ends this book with an update on the murder investigation and trial.

Michaud's biography, "Sal Mineo," provides an insider's look at Mineo's life, relying on interviews, letters, newspaper reviews, and friends' comments. We watch Sal's unexpected rise to fame as a child star, first on television and then with his Academy Award nomination as best supporting actor in "Exodus." And like many other child actors who rocket to fame, everything after that became a comparative struggle, from his recording career to his mishandled finances to his sexuality in a time of "NEVER tell."

Mineo had such big dreams for his acting and directing career. When someone is a genius in his field, he is often ahead of his time. Mineo's choices were not popular with either the press or the public. His ideas on portraying honest relationships between men and his own willingness to use nudity on the stage did not endear him to the Hollywood set (and would still cause problems for segments of the population).

In this biography, Michaud tells the story with as many facts and dates and quotations as he can. The author does not shy away from the issues of bisexuality, multiple lovers, or financial distress.

Regardless, Mineo comes through as someone genuinely liked and admired though he could also be wild and jealous. This is not always a pleasant book to read, but it is informative and steers away from pure salaciousness.

If there is a lesson here, it is for stage mothers: give the your child a normal childhood. Like Michael Jackson, Mineo spent his life searching for that which he never had.
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Format: Hardcover
Was it the eyes, those lips, or that hair? For a long period of time I had no idea who he was or why he was famous. Yet every time I saw a photo of Sal Mineo in a magazine or book, he would immediately capture my attention.

I decided it was finally time to investigate the person behind the stunning eyes. For those equally intrigued by his mere presence, "Sal Mineo: A Biography" will only serve to perpetuate your fascination. Michael Gregg Michaud's extensive research is the closest opportunity those not fortunate enough to meet Sal Mineo will ever have getting to know him. From childhood to his untimely death, Michaud takes the reader on a journey that was Sal Mineo. (Small wonder James Franco recently purchased the film rights to Mineo's story.) The author never attempts to lead the reader in a particular direction. He simply presents a stunning 10 years worth of in-depth research providing details (sad, shocking, juicy, even inspiring) of Mineo's life that makes it practically impossible to put the book down.

Perhaps the pinnacle of Michaud's biography are the revealing interviews with Mineo's only long-term girlfriend Jill Haworth, as well as his only long-term boyfriend, Courtney Burr. The invaluable input these two individuals provide Michaud takes "Sal Mineo: A Biography" to a higher level than both author and reader could have ever hoped. Sadly, Jill Haworth passed away just 2 months after the biography's release, but her generous input to Michaud's book will live for many years to come.

Special thanks and congratulations to author, Michael Gregg Michaud for his passion, discipline and commitment in writing "Sal Mineo: A Biography." I wish him, as well as James Franco, much success with the book and the anticipated, long overdue film version of Sal Mineo's extraordinary life. It is a story worth telling.
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