Thomas Carroll Neal, Jr.
January 28, 1914
Evanston, Illinois, U.S.
|Died||August 7, 1972 (aged 58)|
|Alma mater||Northwestern University|
(m. 1948; div. 1950)
(m. 1956; died 1958)
(m. 1960; died 1965)
Thomas Carroll Neal Jr. (January 28, 1914 – August 7, 1972) was an American actor and successful amateur boxer best known for his costarring role in the critically lauded film Detour, for having a widely publicized affair with actress Barbara Payton, and for later being convicted and imprisoned for manslaughter.
Born in Evanston, Illinois, Neal was one of three children born to banker Thomas, Sr. and Mayme Neal (née Martin). He had two older sisters, Mary Elizabeth and Dorothy Helen. His great uncle was John Drew, the noted thespian. Neal and his sisters were raised in a spacious ten-room home in Chicago. He attended Lake Forest Academy and Evanston Township High School before enrolling at Northwestern University where he majored in mathematics. During college, Neal played several sports and, for a time, competed in amateur boxing matches. He was also a member the Sigma Chi fraternity and was active in the drama club.
Neal dropped out of Northwestern after a year, and moved back to Chicago. He appeared in various stage productions in summer stock before making his way to New York City in 1933. Neal made his Broadway debut in 1935. In 1938, he first appeared in film in Out West with the Hardys, part of the Mickey Rooney "Hardy family" movie series.
Neal appeared in many low budget B-movies in the 1940s/1950s. In 1941 he starred with Frances Gifford in the Republic Pictures 15-episode serial Jungle Girl. Perhaps his most memorable role was that of Al Roberts in the classic film noir Detour alongside Ann Savage. They went on to make five movies together.
In the early 1950s, Neal met actress Barbara Payton at a party. The two began dating but Payton ended the relationship after meeting and becoming engaged to actor Franchot Tone. Despite her engagement, Payton began seeing Neal again. On September 14, 1951, Neal, Payton and Tone made headlines after Neal got into a physical altercation with Tone over Payton in her front yard. Neal beat Tone severely while Payton reportedly watched the fight. Tone suffered severe injuries, including a smashed cheekbone, a broken nose and a brain concussion for which he was hospitalized. After he recovered, Tone and Payton married on September 28, 1951. Payton left Tone after 53 days and returned to Neal. Tone filed for divorce in March 1952 citing Payton for adultery. Neal and Payton announced their engagement in May 1953 but eventually ended their relationship later that year.
Shortly after their breakup, Neal married Patricia Fenton. His only child, Patrick Thomas Neal, was born in 1957. Fenton died the following year from cancer. In 1992, Patrick Neal (who goes by the name Tom Neal, Jr.) appeared in one film, playing the role of Al Roberts in a 1992 independent remake of Detour.
Later years and death
After his much publicized fight with Franchot Tone, Neal was blacklisted in Hollywood, as was Payton. He acted sporadically but became more known for his tumultuous on-and-off relationship with Payton. Neal and Payton attempted to capitalize on the interest in their relationship by starring together in the low-budget Western The Great Jesse James Raid in 1953. The film did reasonably well but did nothing to revitalize the couple's careers. In June 1953, Neal and Payton accepted an offer to star in the touring production of The Postman Always Rings Twice. Their performances were largely panned and the tour ended in September 1953. Neal and Payton broke up for the final time in November 1953.
With his acting career over, Neal moved to Palm Springs, California, and became a gardener. He later started his own landscaping business. In 1961, Neal married receptionist Gale Bennett in Las Vegas. On April 2, 1965, police were summoned to the couple's Palm Springs home by Neal's attorney. They discovered Bennett's body on the couch partially covered by a blanket with a gunshot wound in the back of her head. It was later determined that Bennett had been shot with a .45 caliber gun on April 1. Neal, who was not at the home when police arrived, became an immediate suspect. He surrendered to police on April 3 and was indicted on one charge of murder on April 10.
At his trial, Neal admitted that he and Bennett were separated at the time of her death but said that her death was accidental. He testified that on April 1, he had returned to the couple's Palm Springs home from Chicago where he had been living to see if a reconciliation were possible. Neal said the two began fighting after he accused Bennett of sleeping with other men. He claimed that Bennett pulled out a gun, held it to his head and the two began to struggle. During the ensuing struggle, Neal said that the gun accidentally discharged, killing Bennett. Although prosecutors sought the death penalty, a jury convicted Neal of involuntary manslaughter on November 18, 1965. On December 10, he was sentenced to one-to-fifteen years in prison, of which he served six. On December 6, 1971, he was released on parole. After his release, Neal went back to working as a landscaper and gardener.
On August 7, 1972, Neal was found dead in his bed by his son at his home in North Hollywood, California. His death was later attributed to heart failure. He was cremated, and his ashes were interred in the Chapel of the Pines Cemetery.
Amateur boxing record
|Loss||31-3-0||J.H. Isbell||KO||March 31, 1934||2||Cambridge, Massachusetts|
|Loss||31-2-0||"Modest" Bill Smith||KO||February 27, 1934||2||Cambridge, Massachusetts|
|Win||31-1-0||Frankie Hagen||KO||February 24, 1934||1||Cambridge, Massachusetts|
|Win||30-1-0||Harry Gardner||KO||February 21, 1934||1||Cambridge, Massachusetts|
|Win||29-1-0||Sid Stoneman||KO||February 14, 1934||1||Cambridge, Massachusetts|
|Win||28-1-0||Frankie Hagan||PTS||January 30, 1934||3||Cambridge, Massachusetts|
|Win||27-1-0||Basil Barnett||KO||January 24, 1934||2||Cambridge, Massachusetts|
|Win||26-1-0||George Krause||KO||January 16, 1934||1||Cambridge, Massachusetts|
|Win||25-1-0||Bob Delmont||KO||January 7, 1934||1||Cambridge, Massachusetts|
|Loss||24-1-0||Brad Simmons||KO||January 1, 1934||1||Cambridge, Massachusetts|
|Win||24-0-0||Herman Zeinman||KO||1933||1||Cambridge, Massachusetts|
|Win||23-0-0||William Beltran||KO||1933||1||Cambridge, Massachusetts|
|Win||22-0-0||Lloyd Blake||KO||1933||1||Cambridge, Massachusetts|
|Win||21-0-0||Lawrence "Larry" O'Neil||KO||1933||1||Cambridge, Massachusetts|
|Win||20-0-0||Igg Rosenberg||KO||1933||1||Cambridge, Massachusetts|
|Win||19-0-0||Melvin Kenyon||KO||1933||1||Cambridge, Massachusetts|
|Win||18-0-0||Gary Keers||KO||1933||1||Cambridge, Massachusetts|
|Win||17-0-0||Samuel Rodgway||KO||May 28, 1933||1||Cambridge, Massachusetts|
|Exch||16-0-0||"Irish" Tommy Mitchell||KO||May 21, 1933||1||Cambridge, Massachusetts|
|Win||15-0-0||Jim Crawford||KO||May 14, 1933||1||Cambridge, Massachusetts|
|Win||14-0-0||Max Levine||KO||May 7, 1933||1||Cambridge, Massachusetts|
|Win||13-0-0||Leo Hart||KO||May 1, 1933||1||Cambridge, Massachusetts|
|Win||12-0-0||Paul Benjamin||PTS||1932||3||Evanston, Illinois|
|Win||11-0-0||Fred Chapman||KO||1932||3||Evanston, Illinois|
|Win||10-0-0||Paul Benjamin||KO||1932||3||Evanston, Illinois|
|Win||9-0-0||Rod Conley||KO||1932||2||Evanston, Illinois|
|Win||8-0-0||Paul Gilmore||KO||1932||1||Chicago, Illinois|
|Win||7-0-0||Jack Lewis||KO||1932||3||Chicago, Illinois|
|Exch||6-0-0||Eddie Mitchell||KO||1932||1||Chicago, Illinois|
|Win||5-0-0||Ernest Brant||KO||1932||1||Chicago, Illinois|
|Win||4-0-0||Karl Brenner-Eggers||KO||1932||1||Chicago, Illinois|
|Win||3-0-0||Norman Martin||PTS||1932||3||Chicago, Illinois|
|Win||2-0-0||Albert Leikman||KO||1932||1||Chicago, Illinois|
|Win||1-0-0||Keith Newman||KO||1932||1||Chicago, Illinois|
|1938||Out West with the Hardys||Aldrich Brown|
|1939||Burn 'Em Up O'Connor||'Hank' Hogan|
|1939||Four Girls in White||Dr. Phillips|
|1939||Within the Law||Richard Gilder|
|1939||Prophet Without Honor||Matthew Fontaine Maury||Short, Uncredited|
|1939||Stronger Than Desire||Reporter||Uncredited|
|1939||They All Come Out||Joe Z. Cameron|
|1939||Another Thin Man||Freddie Coleman|
|1939||Joe and Ethel Turp Call on the President||Johnny Crusper|
|1940||The Courageous Dr. Christian||Dave Williams|
|1940||Crime Does Not Pay||Frank Watson||Episode "Jack Pot" in the MGM series|
|1940||Sky Murder||Steve – Pilot|
|1940||Flight Command||Hell Cat||Uncredited|
|1941||Under Age||Rocky Stone|
|1941||Jungle Girl||Jack Stanton||Serial, Alternative title: Edgar Rice Burrough's Jungle Girl|
|1941||Top Sergeant Mulligan||Don Lewis|
|1941||The Miracle Kid||Jimmy Conley|
|1941||Ten Gentlemen from West Point||Cadet||Uncredited|
|1942||One Thrilling Night||Frankie Saxton|
|1942||The Pride of the Yankees||Fraternity Boy||Uncredited|
|1942||Bowery at Midnight||Frankie Mills|
|1943||China Girl||Captain Haynes||Uncredited|
|1943||No Time for Love||Sandhog||Uncredited|
|1943||She Has What It Takes||Roger Rutledge|
|1943||Good Luck, Mr. Yates||Charlie Edmonds|
|1943||Behind the Rising Sun||Taro Seki|
|1943||There's Something About a Soldier||Wally Williams|
|1943||Klondike Kate||Jefferson Braddock|
|1944||The Racket Man||Matt Benson|
|1944||Two-Man Submarine||Jerry Evans|
|1944||The Unwritten Code||Sgt. Terry Hunter|
|1945||Crime, Inc.||Jim Riley||Alternative title: Crime Incorporated|
|1945||First Yank Into Tokyo||Major Steve Ross|
|1945||Club Havana||Bill Porter|
|1946||Blonde Alibi||Rick Lavery|
|1946||The Brute Man||Clifford Scott||Alternative title: The Brute|
|1946||My Dog Shep||District Attorney Herrick|
|1947||The Hat Box Mystery||Russ Ashton||Short|
|1947||Cry Wolf||Hotel Desk Clerk||Uncredited|
|1947||The Case of the Baby Sitter||Russ Ashton||Short|
|1948||Beyond Glory||Captain Henry Jason Daniels|
|1949||Bruce Gentry||Bruce Gentry||Alternative titles: Daredevil of the Skies|
Bruce Gentry, Daredevil of the Skies
|1949||Amazon Quest||Thomas Dekker Jr.|
|1949||Apache Chief||Lieutenant Brown|
|1949||Red Desert||John Williams|
|1950||Radar Secret Service||Mickey Moran|
|1950||The Daltons' Women||Mayor|
|1950||Joe Palooka in Humphrey Takes a Chance||Gordon Rogers|
|1950||I Shot Billy the Kid||Charley Bowdry|
|1950||Train to Tombstone||Dr. Willoughby|
|1950||The Du Pont Story||Alfred V. du Pont|
|1950||Call of the Klondike||Tom Mallory|
|1950||King of the Bullwhip||Benson|
|1951||Fingerprints Don't Lie||Prosecuting Attorney|
|1951||Navy Bound||Joe Morelli|
|1951||Stop That Cab||Lefty|
|1951||Danger Zone||Edgar Spadely||(2nd Episode)|
|1951||G.I. Jane||Timothy R. 'Tim' Rawlings|
|1951||Let's Go Navy!||Joe|
|1951||All That I Have||Bert Grayson|
|1951||The Valparaiso Story|
|1951||Venture of Faith|
|1953||The Great Jesse James Raid||Arch Clements|
|1958||The Last Hurrah||Tom – Mourner at Wake||Uncredited|
|1950||The Gene Autry Show||Breezy
|1951||Racket Squad||Episode: "Skin Game"|
|1951||Boston Blackie||2 episodes|
|1952||The Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok||Lash Corby||Episode: "Vigilante Story"|
|1958||Tales of Wells Fargo||Johnny Reno||Episode: "Faster Gun"|
|1959||Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer||Luke Lund||Episode: "According to Luke", (final appearance)|
- O'Dowd, John (2007). Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye: The Barbara Payton Story. BearManor Media. pp. 147–48. ISBN 978-1-593-93063-9.
- Morton, Lisa; Adamson, Kent (2009). Savage Detours: The Life and Work of Ann Savage. McFarland. pp. 227–28. ISBN 978-0-786-45706-9.
- O'Dowd 2007 p. 148
- Rainey, Buck (2005). Serial Film Stars: A Biographical Dictionary, 1912–1956. McFarland. p. 555. ISBN 0-786-42010-3.
- Polito, Robert (2009). Hollywood & God. University of Chicago Press. p. 7. ISBN 978-0-226-67341-7.
- "Actor Tone, Barbara Payton, Wed In 'Quickie' Ceremony". The Bulletin. September 29, 1951. p. 8. Retrieved December 7, 2014.
- Arthur Lyons. "Killer Career – Actor Tom Neal". Palm Springs Life magazine. Archived from the original on April 7, 2012. Retrieved November 4, 2011.
- "Actor Tom Neal Ko's Love Rival Franchot Tone". Ludington Daily News. September 15, 1951. p. 1. Retrieved December 7, 2014.
- "Franchot Tone Still in Semi-coma After Beating Over Miss Payton". The Free Lance-Star. September 15, 1951. p. 1. Retrieved December 7, 2014.
- "Ex-Movie Star Tom Neal Dies". Beaver County Times. August 8, 1972. p. A-4. Retrieved December 7, 2014.
- "Franchot Says Wife, Neal Had Relations". Herald-Journal. April 25, 1952. p. 32. Retrieved December 7, 2014.
- O'Dowd 2007 pp. 243, 248
- Burroughs Hannsberry, Karen (2003). Bad Boys: The Actors of Film Noir. McFarland. p. 485. ISBN 0-786-41484-7.
- O'Dowd 2007 p. 156
- Marcus, Greil (2007). The Shape of Things to Come: Prophecy and the American Voice. Macmillan. p. 130. ISBN 978-0-312-42642-2.
- O'Dowd 2007 p. 242
- Meeks, Eric G. (2014) . The Best Guide Ever to Palm Springs Celebrity Homes. Horatio Limburger Oglethorpe. p. 15. ISBN 978-1479328598.
- "Tom Neal Quizzed In Killing". Daytona Beach Morning Journal. April 3, 1965. p. 1. Retrieved December 7, 2014.
- "Ex-Actor Tom Neal Jailed, Wife Found Shot To Death". Herald-Journal. April 3, 1965. p. 5. Retrieved December 7, 2014.
- "Former Actor Tom Neal Charged In Wife's Murder". Lodi News-Sentinel. April 3, 1965. p. 12. Retrieved December 7, 2014.
- "Tom Neal Jailed On Suspicion". The Virgin Islands Daily News. April 5, 1965. p. 2. Retrieved December 7, 2014.
- "Former Actor Indicted In Slaying Of Wife". Toledo Blade. April 10, 1965. p. 15. Retrieved December 7, 2014.
- "Tom Neal Tells Of Wife's Dating". The Miami News. November 9, 1965. p. 16A. Retrieved December 7, 2014.
- "Former Actor Found Guilty". Rome News-Tribune. November 19, 1965. p. 1. Retrieved December 7, 2014.
- "Actor Imprisoned For Manslaughter". Star-News. December 11, 1965. p. 17. Retrieved December 7, 2014.
- "Ex-film actor Tom Neal found dead at 59". Eugene Register-Guard. August 8, 1952. p. 4A. Retrieved December 7, 2014.
- Tome Neal at Bosing-Scoop.com