It’s February 12, 1976, and actor Sal Mineo is heading back to his Hollywood home after rehearsing his latest play. A former teen heartthrob, his career has taken a strange trajectory since earning an Oscar nomination alongside James Dean. But his future is about to be cut short by a gruesome murder that will baffle authorities for the next three years.
Born in January of 1939, Mineo grew up in the New York borough of the Bronx. One of four children of Sal Sr., a coffin maker, and his wife, Josephine, he had two brothers, Victor and Michael, and a sister, Sarina. And although his mother was American-born, both of his parents were of Italian descent.
As a boy, Mineo began courting trouble and soon found himself kicked out of his parochial school. And even though his mother encouraged him to perform, enrolling her son in dancing classes, he had joined one of the Bronx’s notorious street gangs by the time he was eight years old. As a result, within two years, he was arrested for his part in a robbery.