Niece of Rebel Without a Cause actor gets personal, see the film on Wednesday at Ridgefield Playhouse

This Wednesday, September 26, the Ridgefield Playhouse will screen the legendary movie, Rebel Without a Cause Starring James Dean, Natalie Wood, Sal Mineo.

Prior to showing this classic film, there will a special movie introduction by Jo Mineo and Victoria Mineo Cory, nieces of Academy Award nominee Sal Mineo. In addition, all ticket holders will be entered to win a piece of movie memorabilia courtesy of Jo and Victoria! Purchase your tickets.

Here, we take you inside the life of Sal Mineo, with the help of his niece, Ridgefield resident, Jo Mineo.

Tell me about the relationship between you and your uncle, Sal.

My sister [Victoria]and I grew up in a family where Sunday dinners were generally with our grandparents.  We spent much time together and were always present when the phone rang from Uncle Sal. Regularly, he would call and we passed the phone around to get private talk time. It was awesome as we too treated Uncle Sal also as an actor!  Sometimes we were nervous to ask him for autographed pictures for our friends and teachers, but he was always nice and mailed them right away.

Let’s talk Rebel Without A Cause. How did this movie shape Sal’s career?

Clearly, Rebel Without a Cause was a huge impact for Sal.  How amazing to have such a young talented cast make such a difference in the movie world! James Dean was 24 yrs old, Natalie Wood was 17 and Sal was 16.  I think Rebel Without a Cause gave all three actors a new life.

Tell me a bit about Sal’s career as an actor. How did it begin?

Sal's first performance was at age 11 in the Broadway play The Rose Tattoo. Although the part was very small, he was then cast to play Crown Prince of Siam on Broadway with Yul Brenner. From there, everything was falling into place with his 1st debut in a movie called Six Bridges to Cross in 1955 at age 16.

Sal did 23 top name movies (13 of them between 1955-1960), over 52 television performances, had 2 top singles on the charts and directed 2 plays. He was too young to die at age 37 when he was working on his play in Hollywood.

How did this legendary movie and stardom impact your family?

Our parents, Ann and Victor were instrumental in Uncle Sal's life.  Our father was his bodyguard and manager early on. Our mother was in charge of the Sal Mineo Fan Club and was responsible to handle promotional mailings of buttons, photos and send reply letters to all the fans.  I was born in 1959 and was too young to understand all the excitement Uncle Sal created as a young actor. Only until we were about 6 yrs old did we really know and feel the love Uncle Sal shared with others in his acting.  

Did you ever meet your uncle’s co-stars or his celebrity friends?

Our parents, grandparents and Sal's brother Mike and Sarina met many actors and actresses along the way. They attended awards dinners, opening nights - movie debuts at the theaters, did promotional engagements for the fans.  We have many home movies and photo's with our family in the presence of many actors/actresses. Victoria and I were either not born yet or too young to experience. We often prepared special cakes at my grandmother's house and had them shipped all over the world so he could share with his friends and fellow actors. There was always a thank you letter in return from David Cassidy, John Davidson, Jill Haworth and others for the treats. That was fun and we did not have Amazon to help us ship!   A different world back then.

Favorite story or memory of Uncle Sal?

I think the first special engagement I can remember was being at the opening of Krakatoa East of Java in 1969.  But our most exciting day was when Uncle Sal arrived in NYC and took my grandmother Josephine, Victoria and myself to a show in NYC and Sardi's Restaurant.  We were so proud and to see all the people come to ask for an autograph was exciting. Still today we each have the autographed menu. I do believe this was the last time we saw Uncle Sal which was in 1975.  

How do you want people to remember Sal Mineo?

I want his fans and new fans to understand the impact he made in theater and with much hope as a family we will do our best to keep Sal Mineo's name alive.  Victoria's children, Alex and Rachel and Sal's sister Sarina and daughter Samantha and I will work collectively on creating a legacy. Who knows, maybe a family book or special feature show is next. Stay tuned!

Purchase your tickets to Rebel Without a Cause on screen at the Ridgefield Playhouse this Wednesday and meet Jo Mineo and her sister Victoria, nieces of Sal Mineo.


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