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SAL MINEO’s star burned bright as a young man, faded over time and was snuffed out completely by a two-bit mugger with a knife.
Ironically, Mineo first became famous for his role as a knife-wielding juvenile delinquent in the ’50s classic “Rebel Without A Cause”.
The intense actor was obsessed with co-star James Dean and was shattered when his idol was killed in a horrific car crash.
For years after Dean’s death, Mineo said his pal spoke to him from beyond the grave.
Some whispered that Dean and the bisexual Mineo had been lovers, but the dark-haired actor denied that.
Mineo got an Oscar nomination for “Rebel” in 1955 and another in 1960 for his role in “Exodus”.
But as he grew older,acting jobs became scarce. By the ’70s it was all downhill.
At 37, he was a has-been who spent his spare time hanging out in sleazy gay bars. On February 12, 1976, Mineo was stabbed to death behind his Hollywood apartment.
Investigators thought a spurned gay lover had killed him. But the following year, a Michigan convict, Lionel Williams, was overheard boasting that he killed Mineo during a botched robbery.
The coroner examined Williams’ hunting knife and found it to be a perfect fit for the fatal wound in Mineo’s chest. Williams was sentenced to 51 years to life in prison.