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Stories of a Sicilian Son: Sal Mineo

Sal Mineo played Gene Krupa in "The Gene Krupa Story" 1959 movie. It's good and highly recommended for anyone who plays drums. Krupa was a pioneer who helped bring drumming to the forefront.

Sal Mineo played Gene Krupa in "The Gene Krupa Story" 1959 movie. It's good and highly recommended for anyone who plays drums. Krupa was a pioneer who helped bring drumming to the forefront.

Sal Mineo was the son of a Sicilian-born coffin maker. Mineo was born in the Bronx. I just recently re-watched "The Gene Krupa Story" which is a 1959 movie that starred Sal Mineo as Gene Krupa.

Mineo was quite a Hollywood success early on. In 1955 he played the role of Johnny "Plato" Crawford in the 1955 classic film "Rebel Without A Cause" which starred James Dean. Mineo was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor at age 17. He didn't win.

In 1959, he did a great job playing the talented iconic jazz drummer Gene Krupa in "The Gene Krupa Story." In 1960 in "Exodus" he was nominated for a Golden Globe Award and won.

Sadly Mineo's life came to an early end at age 37. He was murdered after parking his car below his West Hollywood apartment on February 12, 1976. He was mugged and stabbed in the heart. His murderer was convicted to 57 years in jail.

There are many other famous people of Sicilian heritage that made meaningful contributions to the Arts, Entertainment, and Sports: Frank Sinatra, Al Pacino, Armand Assante, Ben Gazzara, Joe Pass, Frank Zappa, Jon Bon Jovi, Tony Danza, Sebastian Maniscalco, Joe DiMaggio and Roy Campanella and are a few that come to mind.

I'm an American whose grandparents were born in Sicily. I made my pilgrimage to Sicily in 1992 and got to meet all my remaining relatives who never left the island that many refer to as the "Jewel of the Mediterranean." I am a proud American and love the song “God Bless the USA" by Lee Greenwood. That song was so moving to many Americans post 9/11.

However, your roots are your roots. It’s meaningful and interesting to discover them.

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