Tom Neal

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Tom Neal
Ann Savage and Tom Neal in Detour (1945)
BornThomas Neal
(1914-01-28)January 28, 1914
Evanston, Illinois, U.S.
DiedAugust 7, 1972(1972-08-07) (aged 58)
North Hollywood, California, U.S.
Cause of death
heart failure
Resting place
Chapel of the Pines Crematory, Los Angeles
Years active1938-1959
Spouse(s)Vicky Lane (1948-1950)
Patricia Fenton (1956-1958)
Gale Bennett (1960-1965)
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Tom Neal
Ann Savage and Tom Neal in Detour (1945)
BornThomas Neal
(1914-01-28)January 28, 1914
Evanston, Illinois, U.S.
DiedAugust 7, 1972(1972-08-07) (aged 58)
North Hollywood, California, U.S.
Cause of death
heart failure
Resting place
Chapel of the Pines Crematory, Los Angeles
Years active1938-1959
Spouse(s)Vicky Lane (1948-1950)
Patricia Fenton (1956-1958)
Gale Bennett (1960-1965)

Thomas Neal (January 28, 1914 – August 7, 1972) was an American actor best known for appearing in the critically lauded film Detour, having a tryst with Barbara Payton and later committing manslaughter.


Born in Evanston, Illinois, Neal debuted on Broadway in 1935. In 1938 he first appeared in film in Out West with the Hardys, part of the Mickey Rooney "Hardy family" movie series. That same year, he received a law degree from Harvard University. While in college at Northwestern and Harvard Universities, Neal was a stand-out on the schools' boxing teams. He compiled a 44-3 (41 knockouts) ring record,[1] and Neal was coached by Henry Lamar.

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.

Amateur Boxing Record[1][2][edit]

Amateur Boxing Record
Loss31-3-0United States J.H. IsbellKO1934 Mar 312Cambridge, Massachusetts
Loss31-2-0United States "Modest" Bill SmithKO1934 Feb 272Cambridge, Massachusetts
Win31-1-0United StatesFrankie HagenKO1934 Feb 241Cambridge, Massachusetts
Win30-1-0United StatesHarry GardnerKO1934 Feb 211Cambridge, Massachusetts
Win29-1-0United StatesSid StonemanKO1934 Feb 141Cambridge, Massachusetts
Win28-1-0United StatesFrankie HaganPTS1934 Jan 303Cambridge, Massachusetts
Win27-1-0United StatesBasil BarnettKO1934 Jan 242Cambridge, Massachusetts
Win26-1-0United StatesGeorge KrauseKO1934 Jan 161Cambridge, Massachusetts
Win25-1-0United StatesBob DelmontKO1934 Jan 071Cambridge, Massachusetts
Loss24-1-0United StatesBrad SimmonsKO1934 Jan 011Cambridge, Massachusetts
Win24-0-0United StatesHerman ZeinmanKO19331Cambridge, Massachusetts
Win23-0-0United StatesWilliam BeltranKO19331Cambridge, Massachusetts
Win22-0-0United StatesLloyd BlakeKO19331Cambridge, Massachusetts
Win21-0-0United StatesLawrence "Larry" O'NeilKO19331Cambridge, Massachusetts
Win20-0-0United StatesIgg RosenbergKO19331Cambridge, Massachusetts
Win19-0-0United StatesMelvin KenyonKO19331Cambridge, Massachusetts
Win18-0-0United StatesGary KeersKO19331Cambridge, Massachusetts
Win17-0-0United StatesSamuel RodgwayKO1933 May 281Cambridge, Massachusetts
Exch16-0-0United States"Irish" Tommy MitchellKO1933 May 211Cambridge, Massachusetts
Win15-0-0United StatesJim CrawfordKO1933 May 141Cambridge, Massachusetts
Win14-0-0United StatesMax LevineKO1933 May 71Cambridge, Massachusetts
Win13-0-0United StatesLeo HartKO1933 May 11Cambridge, Massachusetts
Win12-0-0United StatesPaul BenjaminPTS19323Evanston, Illinois
Win11-0-0United StatesFred ChapmanKO19323Evanston, Illinois
Win10-0-0United StatesPaul BenjaminKO19323Evanston, Illinois
Win9-0-0United StatesRod ConleyKO19322Evanston, Illinois
Win8-0-0United StatesPaul GilmoreKO19321Chicago, Illinois
Win7-0-0United StatesJack LewisKO19323Chicago, Illinois
Exch6-0-0United StatesEddie MitchellKO19321Chicago, Illinois
Win5-0-0United StatesErnest BrantKO19321Chicago, Illinois
Win4-0-0United StatesKarl Brenner-EggersKO19321Chicago, Illinois
Win3-0-0United StatesNorman MartinPTS19323Chicago, Illinois
Win2-0-0United StatesAlbert LeikmanKO19321Chicago, Illinois
Win1-0-0United StatesKeith NewmanKO19321Chicago, Illinois

Personal life and death[edit]

In 1951, he fought fellow actor Franchot Tone over their mutual girlfriend, actress Barbara Payton.[3] Neal inflicted upon Tone a smashed cheekbone, a broken nose and a brain concussion. After the incident, Tone and Payton married, and Neal had a difficult time finding work. He ended up supporting himself landscaping and gardening. Payton left Tone after only seven weeks and returned to the troubled Neal. Their relationship lasted four years.[citation needed]

Neal remarried almost immediately and in 1957 fathered a son, Tom Neal, Jr. His wife died the following year from cancer. In 1961, Neal married for the third time, to Gale Bennett. Four years later, he shot her in the back of the head with a .45-caliber gun, killing her instantly. He was arrested and, although prosecutors sought the death penalty, he was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to ten years in prison, of which he served six years. On December 6, 1971, he was released on parole.[3]

Less than a year later, Neal died of heart failure in North Hollywood, California at the age of 58 on August 7, 1972. He was cremated, and his ashes stored in the vault at the Chapel of the Pines Crematory in Los Angeles. His son appeared in one film: playing the role of Al Roberts in a 1992 independent remake of Detour.

Selected filmography[edit]

1938Out West with the HardysAldrich Brown
1939Another Thin ManFreddie Coleman
1939Within the LawRichard Gilder
1939Prophet Without HonorUncreditedShort
1940The Courageous Dr. ChristianDave Williams
1941Under Age
1941Jungle GirlJack StantonAlternative title: Edgar Rice Burrough's Jungle Girl
1942Bowery at MidnightFrankie Mills
1943She Has What It TakesRoger Rutledge
1943Behind the Rising SunTaro Seki
1944Two-Man SubmarineJerry Evans
1945DetourAl Roberts (Male lead)Acclaimed film noir
1945Crime, Inc.Jim RileyAlternative title: Crime Incorporated
1945First Yank Into TokyoMajor Steve Ross
1946The Brute ManClifford ScottAlternative title: The Brute
1947The Case of the Baby SitterRuss Ashton
1948Beyond GloryCaptain Henry Jason Daniels
1949Bruce GentryBruce GentryAlternative titles: Daredevil of the Skies
Bruce Gentry, Daredevil of the Skies
1950Call of the KlondikeTom Mallory
I Shot Billy the KidCharley Bowdry
1951Navy BoundJoe Morelli
1953The Great Jesse James RaidArch Clements
1958The Last HurrahTom - Mourner at WakeUncredited
1950The Gene Autry ShowBreezy
2 episodes
1951Racket Squad1 episode
Boston Blackie2 episodes
1952The Adventures of Wild Bill HickokCorby1 episode
1958Tales of Wells FargoJohnny Reno1 episode
1959Mickey Spillane's Mike HammerLuke Lund1 episode


External links[edit]