James Franco Directing a Bio-pic on Sal Mineo

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According to THR James Franco has optioned the film rights to Sal Mineo: A Biography, written by Michael Gregg Michaud and intends to write and direct the film, but not star. This is the latest in a series of options by Franco following his recent acquisitions of The Adderall Diaries and Holy Land: A Suburban Memoir.

Actor Sal Mineo was twice nominated for an Academy Award, and enjoyed success as a stage director and recording artist, but most people remember him chiefly for playing troubled, violence-prone youths. His most memorable role was Plato, James Dean’s damaged, love-starved best friend, in the teen angst classic Rebel Without a Cause (1955). His performance resulted in an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actor, and his popularity quickly developed.

His acting ability and exotic good looks earned him roles as a Native American boy in Tonka, and as a Jewish emigrant in Otto Preminger’s Exodus, for which he won a Golden Globe Award and received his second Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actor. Mineo also appeared in another James Dean vehicle, Giant (1956) as well as The Gene Krupa Story (1959), Who Killed 30 Greatest Teddy Bear (1965), and The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965).

Here is the official description of Michaud’s bio.

One of the hottest stars of the 1950s, Mineo grew up as the son of Sicilian immigrants in a humble Bronx flat. But by age eleven, he appeared on Broadway in Tennessee Williams’s The Rose Tattoo, and then as Prince Chulalongkorn in the original Broadway production of The King and I starring Yul Brynner and Gertrude Lawrence. This sultry-eyed, dark-haired male ingénue of sorts appeared on the cover of every major magazine, thousands of star-struck fans attended his premieres, and millions bought his records, which included several top-ten hits.

His life offstage was just as exhilarating: full of sports cars, motor boats, famous friends, and some of the most beautiful young actresses in Hollywood. But it was fourteen-year-old Jill Haworth, his costar in Exodus—the film that delivered one of the greatest acting roles of his life and earned him another Academy Award nomination and a Golden Globe win—with whom he fell in love and moved to the West Coast. But by the 1960s, a series of professional missteps and an increasingly tumultuous private life reversed his fortunes.

By the late sixties and early seventies, grappling with the repercussions of publicly admitting his homosexuality and struggling to reinvent himself from an aging teen idol, Mineo turned toward increasingly self-destructive behavior. Yet his creative impulses never foundered. He began directing and producing controversial off-Broadway plays that explored social and sexual taboos. He also found personal happiness in a relationship with male actor Courtney Burr. Tragically, on the cusp of turning a new page in his life, Mineo’s life was cut short in a botched robbery. [Amazon]

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