Sal Mineo’s star burned brightest in the role of John ‘Plato’ Crawford in Rebel Without a Cause. The film showcased James Dean and made him a cultural icon. Interestingly, Sal Mineo, not James Dean, was an Academy Award nominee for his performance as Best Supporting Actor. After Rebel he appeared in two more great films: Somebody Up There Likes Me and, another film with Dean, Giant. Mineo was never able to continue his success and by the early 60’s his career was dwindling.
In 1976 Sal Mineo was stabbed to death in the alley behind his apartment. Lionel Ray Williams, a pizza deliveryman, was arrested, convicted and sentenced to 57 years in prison. He had committed several robberies in the area and said he had no idea who Sal Mineo was.