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Tom Neal
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    (January 28, 1914-August 7, 1972)
    Born in Evanston, Illinois
    Best known for his starring role in the film noir 'Detour' (1945)
    Also appeared in the films 'Out West with the Hardys' (1938), 'Another Thin Man' (1939), 'Jungle Girl' (1941), 'The Bowery at Midnight' (1942), 'Behind the Rising Sun' (1943), 'Crime, Inc.' (1945), 'Bruce Gentry' (1949), 'I Shot Billy the Kid' (1950) and 'The Great Jesse James Raid' (1953)
    He called off his engagement to former Follies girl (and ex-mistress of gangster Arnold Rothstein) Inez Martin when his dad threatened to disinherit him.
    He fought Franchot Tone over the affections of Barbara Payton and left Tone with a broken nose, a shattered cheekbone and a concussion.
    He fatally shot his third wife, Gale Bennett, and told two friends he had killed her while she was napping.
    On the stand, he changed his story to claim Gale had threatened him with a gun and it went off when he tried to wrestle it away.
    Although the coroner testified that the location and angle of the wound made the story 'unlikely,' the jury bought it, finding him guilty of the lesser charge of 'involuntary manslaughter' for which he served six years.
    He complained, 'Women in my life brought me nothing but unhappiness.'
    As an amateur boxer at Northwestern and Harvard, he had a record of 44-3 (with 41 wins by knockout).
    When he first arrived in Hollywood, his looks were compared to Clark Gable.
    When acting roles dried up, he started a successful landscaping business.
    Hollywood figures who contributed to his legal defense fund included Mickey Rooney, Blake Edwards, and, ironically, Franchot Tone.

Credit: C. Fishel

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