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 for a performance alongside James Dean. But his bright future is about to be cut short by a gruesome murder – and the crime 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 Josephine, he had two brothers, Victor and Michael, and a sister, Sarina. And although Mineo’s mother was American-born, both of his parents were of Italian descent.
As a boy, however, Mineo began courting trouble, meaning he was ultimately kicked out of his religious school. And even though his mother encouraged him to perform by enrolling him in dancing classes, he had joined one of the Bronx’s notorious gangs by the time he was eight years old. Mineo was arrested for his part in a theft two years later.