James Franco has optioned the film rights to Sal Mineo: A Biography, written by Michael Gregg Michaud. According to THR, Franco intends to write and direct the film, but at this time has no plans to star. This is the latest in a series of options by Franco: The Filmmaker, following his recent acquisitions of The Adderall Diaries and Holy Land: A Suburban Memoir.
At age 16, Mineo was the youngest actor to earn a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination, for 1955’s Rebel Without a Cause. He lived a life “full of sports cars, motor boats, famous friends, and some of the most beautiful young actresses in Hollywood,” before he was stabbed to death in 1976, at 37 years old. Hit the jump for 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]