“Hey, they forgot to wind the sundial.”
–Jim Stark, “Rebel Without A Cause”
Actor Sal Mineo died on this day of a stab wound to the heart in 1976. He was 37. Mineo was best known for co-starring in the 1955 classic movie Rebel Without A Cause—a movie that some people believe was “cursed,” as all 3 of its young stars died at unnaturally young ages.
In addition to Mineo, Rebel Without A Cause’s star, James Dean, died at the tender age of 24 in a car accident (or DID he?). And of course Natalie Wood died at 43 of being married to Robert Wagner.
Once considered one of the biggest up-and-coming young actors of the early 1960s—with Oscar nods not only for Rebel but 1960’s Exodus by the time he was 22—Mineo’s career stalled in part because of rumors regarding his sexual orientation. He was bisexual, but presumed gay. This meant that the youngest person to ever to have two Oscar nominations would not be considered for leading man roles moving forward.
Still, Mineo managed to find smaller movie roles over the next decade, as well as direct and star in theater. He was killed by a mugger after coming home from a rehearsal; police assumed the crime had “homosexual motivation,” but it didn’t. The killer was convicted of mugging 10 other people in the same area. But that didn’t matter. Mineo’s death now had that attached rumor to it, attached to the other rumors about him.
We can also consider the sad fate of another of the movie’s actors, Nick Adams. Adams was one of the men considered to “inherit” Dean’s “rebel” title after the latter’s death—in fact, Adams starred in a TV show literally called The Rebel.
Like Mineo and Dean, Adams was the subject of dogged rumors concerning his alleged bisexuality; unlike Mineo (who was relatively open about his sexual preferences) and Dean (who was allegedly dead before anything really stuck), Adams was particularly hounded and damaged by this gossip campaign. He slipped from stardom in 1959’s The Rebel to doing Godzilla movies for Toho and an Outer Limits episode in the 1960s. In ’68 he was dead of a drug overdose at the age of 36.
Can we really say that there was a Rebel Without A Cause curse? Or was there just an overall Hollywood curse?