|Hollywoodland||Nov 18 2010|
Above is a National Enquirer from the week November 12—18, 1961, with cover star Sal Mineo. Mineo had been a major Hollywood presence who had scored two Academy Award nominations, one of which was for his bravura performance as Plato in Rebel without a Cause. But by 1961 the roles had dried up. The problem was his boyish appearance: he had made his reputation playing volatile youths, but now he was older and studios didn’t believe he could play other types of roles. At the time of the Enquirer cover, Mineo hadn’t worked for eighteen months. The article was simply another variation on the troubled youth theme, riffing on how Mineo had the world at his feet but had no real friends and nobody he could trust.
Soon it became clear Mineo did not have the world at his feet. He languished on the fringes of Hollywood, managing only eight roles—some of them mere bit parts—in the next ten years. However, by 1971 he had begun to make a mark on stage, starring in the gay-themed Fortune and Men’s Eyes with a young Don Johnson, and in 1976’s P.S. Your Cat Is Dead. Both plays were well-reviewed, for the most part, and Mineo seemed to have reached a point where he might vault back into the Hollywood mainstream. But his comeback was cut short when he was murdered behind his L.A. home in February 1976, stabbed in the heart. We looked for a better version of the above shot of Mineo on a Vespa, to no avail. But we’ll keep our eyes open—it’s out there somewhere.