Sal Mineo, who'd previously registered well as the lead in the TV drama Drummer Man, essays a strikingly similar role in The Gene Krupa Story. The film details Krupa's troubled home life: (he wanted to be a musician; his father wanted him to become a priest), his rise to fame as drummer for the Benny Goodman orchestra, his years on top as a bandleader, and his ongoing problems with drug abuse. A fictional romantic subplot is grafted onto the proceeding involving clearly defined "good" and "bad" girls Ethel Maguire (Susan Kohner) and Dorissa Dinelli (Susan Oliver). Yvonne Craig has an entertaining scene as an anachronistically garbed good-time girl. Craig would later recall that, at the time of shooting The Gene Krupa Story, she weighed more than Sal Mineo, and that in the scene where he's required to lift her off the floor, she virtually had to lift him. Mineo, a drummer of some accomplishment, convincingly wields the sticks during the musical highlights, though the trickier drum solos were dubbed in by Gene Krupa himself. Real-life recording stars Anita O'Day, Red Nichols, Bobby Troup and Shelley Manne make cameo appearances.