Steve McQueen Poster


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Overview (5)

Born in Beech Grove, Indiana, USA
Died in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico  (heart attack)
Birth NameTerrence Stephen McQueen
Nicknames Bandito
King Of Cool
Height 5' 10" (1.78 m)

Mini Bio (1)

He was the ultra-cool male film star of the 1960s, and rose from a troubled youth spent in reform schools to being the world's most popular actor. Over 25 years after his untimely death from mesothelioma in 1980, Steve McQueen is still considered hip and cool, and he endures as an icon of popular culture.

McQueen was born in Beech Grove, Indiana, to Julia Ann (Crawford) and William Terence McQueen, a stunt pilot. His first lead role was in the low-budget sci-fi film The Blob (1958), quickly followed by roles in The St. Louis Bank Robbery (1959) and Never So Few (1959). The young McQueen appeared as Vin, alongside Yul Brynner, in the star-laden The Magnificent Seven (1960) and effectively hijacked the lead from the bigger star by ensuring he was nearly always doing something in every shot he and Brynner were in together, such as adjusting his hat or gun belt. He next scored with audiences with two interesting performances, first in the World War II drama Hell Is for Heroes (1962) and then in The War Lover (1962). Riding a wave of popularity, McQueen delivered another crowd pleaser as Hilts, the Cooler King, in the knockout World War II P.O.W. film The Great Escape (1963), featuring his famous leap over the barbed wire on a motorcycle while being pursued by Nazi troops (in fact, however, the stunt was actually performed by his good friend, stunt rider Bud Ekins).

McQueen next appeared in several films of mixed quality, including Soldier in the Rain (1963); Love with the Proper Stranger (1963) and Baby the Rain Must Fall (1965). However, they failed to really grab audience attention, but his role as Eric Stoner in The Cincinnati Kid (1965), alongside screen legend Edward G. Robinson and Karl Malden, had movie fans filling theaters again to see the ice-cool McQueen they loved. He was back in another Western, Nevada Smith (1966), again with Malden, and then he gave what many consider to be his finest dramatic performance as loner US Navy sailor Jake Holman in the superb The Sand Pebbles (1966). McQueen was genuine hot property and next appeared with Faye Dunaway in the provocative crime drama The Thomas Crown Affair (1968), next in what many consider his signature role, that of a maverick, taciturn detective in the mega-hit Bullitt (1968), renowned for its famous chase sequence through San Francisco between McQueen's Ford Mustang and the killer's black Dodge Charger.

Interestingly, McQueen's next role was a total departure from the action genre, as he played Southerner Boon Hogganbeck in the family-oriented The Reivers (1969), based on the popular William Faulkner novel. Not surprisingly, the film didn't go over particularly well with audiences, even though it was an entertaining and well made production, and McQueen showed an interesting comedic side of his acting talents. He returned to more familiar territory, with the race film Le Mans (1971), a rather self-indulgent exercise, and its slow plot line contributed to its rather poor performance in theaters. It was not until many years later that it became something of a cult film, primarily because of the footage of Porsche 917s roaring around race tracks in France. McQueen then teamed up with maverick Hollywood director Sam Peckinpah to star in the modern Western Junior Bonner (1972), about a family of rodeo riders, and again with Peckinpah as bank robber Doc McCoy in the violent The Getaway (1972). Both did good business at the box office. McQueen's next role was a refreshing surprise and Papillon (1973), based on the Henri Charrière novel of the same name, was well received by fans and critics alike. He plays a convict on a French penal colony in South America who persists in trying to escape from his captors and feels their wrath when his attempts fail.

The 1970s is a decade remembered for a slew of "disaster" movies and McQueen starred in arguably the biggest of the time, The Towering Inferno (1974). He shared equal top billing with Paul Newman and an impressive line-up of co-stars including Fred Astaire, Robert Vaughn and Faye Dunaway. McQueen does not appear until roughly halfway into the film as San Francisco fire chief Mike O'Halloran, battling to extinguish an inferno in a 138-story skyscraper. The film was a monster hit and set the benchmark for other disaster movies that followed. However, it was McQueen's last film role for several years. After a four-year hiatus he surprised fans, and was almost unrecognizable under long hair and a beard, as a rabble-rousing early environmentalist in An Enemy of the People (1978), based on the Henrik Ibsen play.

McQueen's last two film performances were in the unusual Western Tom Horn (1980), then he portrayed real-life bounty hunter Ralph "Papa' Thorson (Ralph Thorson) in The Hunter (1980). In 1978, McQueen developed a small but persistent cough that would not go away. He quit smoking and underwent antibiotic treatments without improvement. Shortness of breath grew more pronounced and on December 22, 1979, after he completed work on 'The Hunter', a biopsy revealed pleural mesothelioma, a rare lung cancer associated with asbestos exposure for which there is no known cure. The asbestos was thought to have been in the protective suits worn in his race car driving days, but in fact the auto racing suits McQueen wore were made of Nomex, a DuPont fire-resistant aramid fiber that contains no asbestos. McQueen later gave a medical interview in which he believed that asbestos used in movie sound stage insulation and race-drivers' protective suits and helmets could have been involved, but he thought it more likely that his illness was a direct result of massive exposure while removing asbestos lagging from pipes aboard a troop ship while in the US Marines.

By February 1980, there was evidence of widespread metastasis. While he tried to keep the condition a secret, the National Enquirer disclosed that he had "terminal cancer" on March 11, 1980. In July, McQueen traveled to Rosarito Beach, Mexico for an unconventional treatment after American doctors told him they could do nothing to prolong his life. Controversy arose over McQueen's Mexican trip, because McQueen sought a non-traditional cancer treatment called the Gerson Therapy that used coffee enemas, frequent washing with shampoos, daily injections of fluid containing live cells from cows and sheep, massage and laetrile, a supposedly "natural" anti-cancer drug available in Mexico, but not approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. McQueen paid for these unconventional medical treatments by himself in cash payments which was said to have cost an upwards of $40,000 per month during his three-month stay in Mexico. McQueen was treated by William Donald Kelley, whose only medical license had been (until revoked in 1976) for orthodontics.

McQueen returned to the United States in early October 1980. Despite metastasis of the cancer through McQueen's body, Kelley publicly announced that McQueen would be completely cured and return to normal life. McQueen's condition soon worsened and "huge" tumors developed in his abdomen. In late October, McQueen flew to Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico to have an abdominal tumor on his liver (weighing around five pounds) removed, despite warnings from his American doctors that the tumor was inoperable and his heart could not withstand the surgery. McQueen checked into a Juarez clinic under the alias "Sam Shepard" where the local Mexican doctors and staff at the small, low-income clinic were unaware of his actual identity.

Steve McQueen passed away on November 7, 1980, at age 50 after the cancer surgery which was said to be successful. He was cremated and his ashes were scattered at sea. He married three times and had a lifelong love of motor racing, once remarking, "Racing is life. Anything before or after is just waiting.".

- IMDb Mini Biography By: firehouse44@hotmail.com

Spouse (3)

Barbara Minty (16 January 1980 - 7 November 1980) ( his death)
Ali MacGraw (13 July 1973 - 9 August 1978) ( divorced)
Neile Adams (2 November 1956 - 14 March 1972) ( divorced) ( 2 children)

Trade Mark (8)

Usually played tough, sexy and determined
Deep gravelly voice
Roles in action films and war films
Often played police officers or military officers
Cigarette dangling off the right side of his mouth
Light brown hair and bright blue eyes
Laid back charismatic personality
His roles often incorporated his impressive driving skills

Trivia (149)

Of the 2000 performers who auditioned for Lee Strasberg's exclusive Actors Studio in 1955, only two were accepted: Martin Landau and McQueen. Both men would go on to appear in just two joint ventures, Wanted: Dead or Alive: The Monster (1960) and Nevada Smith (1966).
In October 1997, he was ranked #30 in Empire (UK) magazine's "The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time" list.
On August 8, 1969, a week before the Woodstock Music Festival kicked off in Bethel, New York, McQueen had been invited for dinner at the Roman Polanski-Sharon Tate home in the Hollywood hills by mutual friend and hairdresser-to the-stars Jay Sebring. An unexpected rendezvous with a mystery woman prompted him to cancel his appointment. In the wake of the Manson Family Tate-LaBianca murders at, respectively, 10050 Cielo Drive and 3301 Waverly Drive, McQueen would later learn that he was accorded the kind of priority billing for which he was unprepared--he topped Charles Manson's celebrity death list. Thereafter, he carried a concealed weapon.
Issued a private pilot's license by the FAA in 1979 after learning to fly in a Stearman bi-plane, which he purchased for that purpose. After his death it was sold at auction, along with his large collection of vehicles, in 1982.
Father of Chad McQueen and Terry McQueen.
Trained in Tang Soo Do with ninth-degree black belt Pat E. Johnson (not Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris as is popularly believed). His son was trained in karate by Norris. Lee trained him in Jeet Kune Do.
He was posthumously awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6834 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California on June 12, 1986.
He was chosen by Empire magazine as one of the 100 Sexiest Stars in film history (#19) (1995).
Was a pallbearer at the funeral of Bruce Lee.
Dropped out of school in ninth grade.
Former stepfather of Josh Evans.
He proposed the idea for the drama film The Bodyguard (1992) in 1976. However, this was forgotten for 16 years until 1992, when Kevin Costner revived the idea.
His role in Never So Few (1959) was originally going to be played by Sammy Davis Jr.. A feud had broken out between Davis and Frank Sinatra after Davis had claimed in a radio interview that he was a greater singer than Sinatra. Sinatra demanded he be dropped from the cast, and thus McQueen received his breakthrough role.
Sheryl Crow made a song titled "Steve McQueen" as a tribute to him. It is featured on the album "C'mon C'mon" (2002).
Was originally slated to star with Paul Newman in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969); however, due to a disagreement over the billing, he left the project. Ironically, the billing method was used several years later when he and Newman would star in The Towering Inferno (1974), the original script of which called for McQueen's character to have more lines of dialogue than Paul Newman's. McQueen insisted the script be changed so he and Newman would have the same number of lines. He reportedly believed his talent was superior to that of the other actor and wanted the critical criteria to be as equal as possible.
He was very interested in playing John Rambo in the adaptation of the novel "First Blood". He was actually slated to star, but did not due to his death. Sylvester Stallone got the role instead in First Blood (1982).
The band Drive-By Truckers have the tribute song "Steve McQueen" featured on their album "Gangstabilly" (1998).
Along with Martin Sheen and James Dean, is mentioned in the song "Electrolite" by R.E.M..
Was the first of the original film The Magnificent Seven (1960) to pass away.
Had appeared, helmeted and uncredited, as a motorcyclist in the B-movie Dixie Dynamite (1976), starring Warren Oates and Christopher George. Legend has it that the call went out for dirt bike riders to take part in this low-budget action adventure, and among those who turned up was McQueen. Heavily bearded and overweight, he kept a low profile (this was during his reclusive period when he was turning down multi-million-dollar offers for such films as A Bridge Too Far (1977) and Apocalypse Now (1979)), and was only noticed when he queued up to accept his day's payment, about $120. The astonished production assistant handing out the cash saw his name on a list and said, "Is that THE Steve McQueen?". McQueen's riding style (standing on his foot pedals, leaning forward, head over the handlebars) makes him immediately identifiable to bike buffs.
He was voted the 56th Greatest Movie Star of all time by "Entertainment Weekly".
The "King of Cool" became a born-again Christian shortly before he died, due to the influence of his third wife Barbara Minty and his flying instructor Sammy Mason. He went through Bible studies with Rev. Billy Graham. It is interesting to note that this conversion happened before he was diagnosed with cancer, meaning it was probably genuine. McQueen's favorite Bible verse was John 3:16, which reads, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.".
In the 1960s, he publicly threatened to break Howard Hughes' nose if Hughes did not stop harassing Mamie Van Doren, a woman both men had affairs with, but at different times. Needless to say, Hughes never bothered Van Doren again.
Upon meeting Martin Landau, McQueen told Landau that they had already met. Landau, who didn't remember McQueen, inquired as to where. McQueen told him that he--Landau--was on the back of James Dean's motorcycle when Dean brought it in for repairs at a garage in New York City. The motorcycle mechanic at the garage was none other than McQueen.
After the huge success of The Towering Inferno (1974), McQueen announced that any producer wishing to acquire his services would have to send a check for $1.5 million along with the script. If he liked the script and wanted to make the movie, he'd cash the check; the producer then owed him another $1.5 million. He'd keep his half of his $3 million salary if the producer couldn't come up with the other half. McQueen likely used this then-unprecedented pay-or-play arrangement to guarantee the six-year semi-retirement he undertook after "The Towering Inferno", in which he appeared in only one picture, the vanity project An Enemy of the People (1978). When he did return to commercial filmmaking, his price was $3 million.
He was voted the 31st Greatest Movie Star of all time by Premiere magazine.
Had appeared with Charles Bronson in three films directed by John Sturges: Never So Few (1959), The Magnificent Seven (1960), The Great Escape (1963). Also, appeared with James Coburn in the latter two Sturges films cited above.
McQueen joined the Marine Corps at age 17 and worked as a tank driver and mechanic. He earned a commendation for rescuing five Marines during a training accident. According to military records released by the Pentagon in 2005, Marine Pfc. Steve McQueen was confined to base for 41 days and fined $90 for being absent without leave (AWOL) from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. (Some sources indicate he was AWOL for as long as 21 days [3 weeks] but the exact amount of time he was AWOL is unconfirmed.) He avoided a dishonorable discharge and later took advantage of the GI Bill's education benefits to study at the Actors Studio in New York.
Had appeared with Eli Wallach in both his first major successful film, The Magnificent Seven (1960), and his final film, The Hunter (1980).
Had appeared with Robert Vaughn in three films: The Magnificent Seven (1960), Bullitt (1968) and The Towering Inferno (1974).
When he briefly left The Great Escape (1963) during filming, due to the fact that his character did not play as large a part as he would have liked, it was James Coburn and James Garner who convinced him to return. Because of its huge success and continuing popularity, it has become his best known role.
Always resented the fact that Horst Buchholz was cast as Chico in The Magnificent Seven (1960), the role he had initially wanted.
Like the coolest movie stars, was strongly connected to Triumph motorcycles, riding a 650cc TR6 Trophy in The Great Escape (1963) and competing on the same model in the 1964 International Six Days Trial held in East Germany. Photographs of his desert racing also show him upon this model. He also visited Triumph's Meriden factory in 1964 and 1965 for collection and preparation of his motorcycles.
In the movie S.W.A.T. (2003), Colin Farrell's character of Jim Street has a poster of McQueen's Bullitt (1968) in his apartment. In real life, Farrell frequently cites McQueen as one of his idols and influences as an actor.
In 1960, with his growing success, he formed his own production company called Scuderia Condor Enterprises, which he ran until 1963 when he and his family moved to 2419 Solar Drive and he renamed his company Solar Productons, Inc., and would produce many films under this banner until his death.
Of all the characters he ever played, he frequently cited Lt. Frank Bullitt from Bullitt (1968) as his favorite.
The last words he uttered on screen were "God bless you" in The Hunter (1980). He died shortly after the film's release.
His only two appearances at the Academy Awards were as a presenter: in 1964, he presented the Oscar for Best Sound, and in 1965, holding hands with Claudia Cardinale, he presented the Oscar again for Best Sound.
Shortly before filming began on Tom Horn (1980), he had quit smoking cigarettes. His somewhat "squashed" appearance was due to a crash diet.
Former father-in-law of Stacey Toten.
Grandfather of Steven R. McQueen and Molly McQueen.
His name somehow appeared on President Richard Nixon's "List of Enemies" in 1972. In reality, McQueen was conservative in his political beliefs, with a strong belief in self-help. In 1963 he had declined to participate in the March on Washington for civil rights and, in 1968, refused to join many of his Hollywood peers in supporting Sen. Robert F. Kennedy's presidential campaign. An incredulous Ali MacGraw asked McQueen how he could have been considered a threat by Nixon, adding, "You are the most patriotic person I know!" McQueen responded to the whole affair by flying an enormous American flag outside his house.
Was William Friedkin's first choice for the Jackie Scanlon character in Sorcerer (1977). McQueen accepted the part, but on one condition. He wanted a co-starring role for his then wife, Ali MacGraw. Friedkin would not accept his conditions, and McQueen dropped out of the film. Freidkin later went on record has having regretted not accepting McQueen's conditions.
Before his death, McQueen optioned two screenplays from Walter Hill: The Driver (1978) and "The Last Gun". "The Driver" got made later, with Ryan O'Neal playing the lead part. "The Last Gun" remains unproduced.
Some of the few movie stars he admired were Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney, Spencer Tracy and John Wayne.
After The Towering Inferno (1974) he was offered several multi-million-dollar roles but refused them all. He turned down the chance to star in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975), Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), Superman (1978), Raise the Titanic (1980) and the opportunity to star in and direct a film called "Deajum's Wife".
Turned down a role for the sequel to The Towering Inferno (1974) in 1977.
Felt ill during the filming of Tom Horn (1980), and assumed he had pneumonia. However, towards the end of filming he began to cough up blood. On 22 December 1979, after filming had finished, he was diagnosed with mesothelioma, which often afflicts workers in ship-building and construction industries. As in most cases, a tumor was discovered on the outside lining of a lung, and spread to other areas of the body. Although McQueen had been a heavy smoker, which may or may not have been a contributing factor, mesothelioma itself is not a smoking-related lung disease. While the source of his exposure has been debated, McQueen himself pointed to two likely sources, including the time when he took part in replacing asbestos-based insulation in the ship's engine room during his stint in the Marines. He also believed he could have been exposed in his years as a film star, since soundstage insulation had also been made of asbestos. Others have suggested sources as varied as automotive brake pads and the cloth used to bandage his broken foot during the 12 hours of Sebring race in 1971. He died from two consecutive heart attacks at 3:45 am on November 7, 1980, less than 24 hours after undergoing surgery at a Mexican clinic (where he went to undergo a controversial "apricot pit" therapy that is still banned in the United States) to remove the malignant tumors in his stomach and lungs. According to the doctor present at the operation, his right lung was entirely cancerous.
Following the release of Bullitt (1968), McQueen found it hilarious that he was considered the coolest celebrity by teenagers, given that he was almost 40 years old. In November that same year (1968) he declared his support for the Vietnam War and voted for Richard Nixon in the presidential election.
Homer Simpson named McQueen as his personal hero in an episode of The Simpsons: Saturdays of Thunder (1991).
Was offered the co-starring role in Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961). However, he was still under contract for his television series Wanted: Dead or Alive (1958), which prevented him from appearing. The role eventually went to George Peppard.
In 1973, McQueen flew to England to meet Oliver Reed and discuss a possible film collaboration. "Reed showed me his country mansion and we got on well," recalled McQueen. "He then suggested he take me to his favorite London nightclub." The drinking, which started at Reed's home, Broome Hall, continued into the night until Reed could hardly stand. Suddenly, and with no apparent warning, he vomited over McQueen's shirt and trousers. "The staff rushed around and found me some new clothes, but they couldn't get me any shoes", said McQueen. "I had to spend the rest of the night smelling of Oliver Reed's sick".
Turned down a role in Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969).
Turned down Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977). McQueen told director Steven Spielberg he couldn't play a character who was too emotionally oriented.
Posthumously inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers. [April 2007]
He did not like gratuitous violence, swearing or nudity in movies.
Was considered for the role of Colonel Kurtz in Apocalypse Now (1979), which eventually went to Marlon Brando.
At one point he approached playwright Samuel Beckett with an idea for filming the play "Waiting for Godot", but Becket had never heard of him.
Intended to retire after filming The Towering Inferno (1974).
Inducted into the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1978.
After Rex Harrison and Audrey Hepburn, McQueen was the celebrity most sought out by the press at the premiere of My Fair Lady (1964).
Turned down the starring roles in Dirty Harry (1971) and The French Connection (1971) because he didn't want to make any more cop movies after Bullitt (1968).
Inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1999.
His friend and co-star Richard Attenborough said that if McQueen had lived for longer he would have been regarded as the greatest film actor since Spencer Tracy.
British band Prefab Sprout used his name for the title of their second album, released in 1985. Due to objections from the late actor's estate, the album was issued with the alternative title of "Two Wheels Good" in the United States.
He was considered for Glenn Ford's role in Pocketful of Miracles (1961).
Profiled in "Back in the Saddle: Essays on Western Film and Television Actors", Gary Yoggy, ed. (McFarland, 1998).
Kevin Costner has named McQueen as his favorite actor, and his main influence as an actor.
He auditioned for Richard Harris' role in Major Dundee (1965).
Quigley Down Under (1990) was written for McQueen in the 1970s.
Made headlines when accepting the lead in Tai-Pan (1986) for an unheard of $10 million, for which he was given a $1-million fee up front. However, his health declined and he died before the producers were able to raise the necessary capital for production. It was eventually released six years after McQueen's death, with Bryan Brown in the lead.
Was considered, but ultimately rejected, for the role of Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby (1974). The role eventually went to Robert Redford.
Colin Farrell, Kevin Costner, Pierce Brosnan and Bruce Willis have all listed McQueen as their hero and inspiration for being an actor.
Turned down a $4-million offer to star in The Gauntlet (1977) when Barbra Streisand was originally attached to the picture with Sam Peckinpah set to direct. McQueen and Streisand did not get along due to a clash of egos and politics and refused to appear together (although, according to Streisand biographer Christopher Andersen, the two did have an affair at one point). Kris Kristofferson and Ali MacGraw were then a considered pair, before Clint Eastwood took over as director and cast himself and Sondra Locke in the lead roles.
He had expressed interest in starring in Return of the Seven (1966), but Yul Brynner vetoed the idea.
Turned down Marlon Brando's role in The Missouri Breaks (1976) and George C. Scott's role in Islands in the Stream (1977) because he claimed to be completely retired from acting.
Turned down lead roles in The Victors (1963) and King Rat (1965) because he didn't want to become typecast in war movies.
Turned down Ocean's 11 (1960) on the advice of his friend Hedda Hopper, who told him to be his own man rather than Frank Sinatra's "flunky".
On March 21, 1967, three days before his 37th birthday, he became the 153rd star to put his handprints and footprints on the forecourt of Grauman's Chinese Theater.
Turned down a role in A Bridge Too Far (1977) because he only wanted top billing roles, not all-star assembled projects.
Cousin of Janice McQueen Ward.
Of English, German, Scottish and Scots-Irish descent, as well as more distant Cornish, Dutch, and Welsh lineage, he was raised by his grandparents. A troubled teenager, he often ran away from home, working on ships, as an oil field laborer and fairground barker. He spent five years in a California reformatory. Had a younger paternal half sister, Terri McQueen, whom he never met.
Had appeared with his good friend Don Gordon in three films: Bullitt (1968), Papillon (1973) and The Towering Inferno (1974).
Dick Powell, head of Four Star Productions, gave the green light to McQueen's western series Wanted: Dead or Alive (1958), but was concerned about his continuing in the lead after the pilot sold because the actor was not big or tall enough to be believable as a rough-hewn bounty hunter, and did not know how to ride a horse. Powell changed his mind when he saw McQueen's charismatic performance in the early rushes of the show's first episode.
He was a rebellious teenager, didn't get along with his stepfather and had several thefts on his record. In 1944, his parents placed him in the California Junior Republic for Boys at Chino. In later years, he referred to his stay at Chino as "the best thing that ever happened to me" and that "they straightened me out there".
After his first meeting with director Robert Wise for his first film role in Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956), Wise referred to him as "just a kook in a beanie".
In 1966, he appeared on the game show What's My Line (1956).
Acting teacher Sanford Meisner said of the fledgling actor: "He was an original--both tough and childlike, as if he'd been through everything, but he had preserved a basic innocence".
During the scene in Bullitt (1968) in which the giant airliner taxis just above McQueen, observers were shocked that no double was used. Asked if the producers couldn't have found a dummy, the actor wryly replied, "They did".
McQueen was cremated and a memorial service was held at his home with a bi-plane flyover by his flying buddies. There were so many flowers and cards from his fans put on his likeness at the Hollywoo Wax Museum, the wax statue had to be put in storage to prevent damage from the tributes.
He was born on March 24 (1930), the same day that 76 Allied prisoners of war begin breaking out of the German POW camp Stalag Luft III in 1944, during World War II, which later became the basis of The Great Escape (1963) in which McQueen starred.
He quit smoking cigarettes in 1978, although he continued to smoke cigars.
Smoked three packs of cigarettes a day.
Had a feud with next-door neighbor British rocker Keith Moon ("the loon") of The Who in Malibu. Moon had a habit of leaving his bathroom light on at night. The light shone directly into McQueen's bedroom and kept him awake at night. After telling Moon repeatedly to turn it off without success, he took out a shotgun, blew out the light and went back to bed. He also held a four year grudge with his next door neighbor in Brentwood, Los Angeles, James Garner, whom McQueen allegedly resented for winning the lead role in Grand Prix (1966). The two men did not speak for four years.
Charged a $50,000 script reading fee upfront during his semi-retirement years.
Was voted #14 in an online poll for Channel 4's 100 Greatest Movie Stars in 2003 (UK).
Was the first actor to make the transition from television star to huge box-office movie star.
First wife Neile Adams had an abortion in 1971 when their marriage was on the rocks. Several months later, then-girlfriend Barbara Leigh also had an abortion. Second wife Ali MacGraw had a miscarriage in 1974.
Considered Jacqueline Bisset the most beautiful actress he worked with.
He was originally going to star in Grand Prix (1966). A first meeting with producer Grand Prix (1966) went very badly and McQueen showed no further public interest in the role. However, privately he was fuming, and he chose not to speak with his friend, and next-door neighbor, who just happened to be James Garner, for the next four years.
Columbia Pictures wanted to cast him opposite Paul Newman in In Cold Blood (1967). He turned out to be busy with Bullitt (1968) and The Thomas Crown Affair (1968).
He was considered for Albert Finney's role in Two for the Road (1967).
He was considered to replace John Wayne in Rooster Cogburn (1975).
He turned down Charles Bronson's roles in Death Wish (1974) and Mr. Majestyk (1974).
He turned down George C. Scott's role in Islands in the Stream (1977) as he had temporarily retired from acting and was traveling the United States on his vintage Indian motorcycles.
He was considered for Charlton Heston's role in Planet of the Apes (1968).
He was originally going to star in California Split (1974) when the project was at MGM. This soon changed when MGM started making ridiculous demands, including insisting that the script be a specified number of pages and that it should be set at the Circus Circus casino complex in Las Vegas - which MGM owned. They also wanted the film to have a Mafia subplot and to have a role for Dean Martin.
He turned down Patrick O'Neal's role in The Kremlin Letter (1970).
He was Warner Bros.' choice for the role of Lewis Medlock in Deliverance (1972), but he turned it down.
He auditioned for Vic Morrow's role in Blackboard Jungle (1955).
Clint Eastwood offered him the lead in Play Misty for Me (1971), claiming that the female lead was stronger than the male.
He turned down Rock Hudson's role in Ice Station Zebra (1968).
He was considered for the role of Benjamin Braddock in The Graduate (1967); the role went to Dustin Hoffman.
He was approached to star opposite Paul Newman in Earthquake (1974), but they had already committed to appear in The Towering Inferno (1974).
He was considered for the role of Tom Hagen in The Godfather (1972); the part went to Robert Duvall.
He and his first wife Neile Adams were approached to star in Gable and Lombard (1976). (Though some sources say it was opposite his second wife Ali MacGraw.
He filmed a cameo as Sam Spade in The Long Goodbye (1973) that ended up on the cutting room floor.
He turned down Gene Hackman's role in Marooned (1969).
Sam Spiegel considered casting him in The Chase (1966) in the part that went to Robert Redford.
He refused the lead role in Hardcore (1979).
He was considered for Al Pacino's role in Bobby Deerfield (1977).
He was considered to star opposite Sophia Loren in The Plainsman (1966).
He was offered the lead role in Raise the Titanic (1980) but disliked the script and turned down the offer.
He was considered for Gregory Peck's role in Mackenna's Gold (1969).
He followed a daily two-hour exercise regimen, involving weightlifting and, at one point, running 5 miles (8 km), seven days a week.
In 2012, he was posthumously honored with the Warren Zevon Tribute Award by the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO).
According to William Claxton, McQueen smoked marijuana almost every day; biographer Marc Eliot stated that McQueen used a large amount of cocaine in the early 1970s. He was also a heavy cigarette smoker.
He was considered for Ernest Borgnine's role in The Wild Bunch (1969).
He was originally approached to star in Convoy (1978), but turned it down.
Dated Alana Stewart.
In Papillon (1973), he performed the famous stunt where he jumps off a cliff. McQueen once said that it was "one of the most exhilarating experiences" of his life.
Appeared with James Coburn in three films: The Magnificent Seven (1960), Hell Is for Heroes (1962) and The Great Escape (1963).
The Beech Grove, Indiana, Public Library formally dedicated the Steve McQueen Birthplace Collection on March 16, 2010 to commemorate the 80th anniversary of McQueen's birth on March 24, 1930.
He flew and owned, among other aircraft, a 1945 Stearman, tail number N3188, (his student number in reform school), a 1946 Piper J-3 Cub, and an award-winning 1931 Pitcairn PA-8 bip, flown in the US Mail Service by famed World War I flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker. They were hangared at Santa Paula Airport an hour northwest of Hollywood, where he lived his final days.
He was inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers in April 2007, in a ceremony at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.
In 1973 The Rolling Stones referred to McQueen in the song "Star Star" from the album Goats Head Soup for which an amused McQueen reportedly gave personal permission. The lines were "Star fucker, star fucker, star fucker, star fucker star/ Yes you are, yes you are, yes you are/Yeah, Ali MacGraw got mad with you/For givin' head to Steve McQueen".
In spite of multiple attempts, McQueen was never able to purchase the Ford Mustang GT 390 he drove in Bullitt (1968), which featured a modified drivetrain that suited McQueen's driving style. One of the two Mustangs used in the film was badly damaged, judged beyond repair, and believed to have been scrapped until it surfaced in Mexico in 2017, while the other one, which McQueen attempted to purchase in 1977, is hidden from the public eye. At the 2018 North American International Auto Show the GT 390 was displayed in connection with the 2019 Ford Mustang "Bullitt" in its current non-restored condition.
He was set to co-drive in a Triumph 2500 PI for the British Leyland team in the 1970 London-Mexico rally, but had to turn it down due to movie commitments.
He raced in many top off-road races on the West Coast, including the Baja 1000, the Mint 400, and the Elsinore Grand Prix.
He competed in off-road motorcycle racing, frequently running a BSA Hornet. His first off-road motorcycle was a Triumph 500 cc, purchased from Ekins.
He considered being a professional race car driver. He had a one-off outing in the British Touring Car Championship in 1961, driving a BMC Mini at Brands Hatch, finishing third. In the 1970 12 Hours of Sebring race, Peter Revson and McQueen (driving with a cast on his left foot from a motorcycle accident two weeks earlier) won with a Porsche 908/02 in the three-litre class and missed winning overall by 23 seconds to Mario Andretti/Ignazio Giunti/Nino Vaccarella in a five-litre Ferrari 512S. This same Porsche 908 was entered by his production company Solar Productions as a camera car for Le Mans (1971) in the 1970 24 Hours of Le Mans later that year. McQueen wanted to drive a Porsche 917 with Jackie Stewart in that race, but the film backers threatened to pull their support if he did. Faced with the choice of driving for 24 hours in the race or driving for the entire summer making the film, McQueen opted for the latter.
He was inducted in the Off-road Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1978, the same year as his immediate next-door neighbor in Brentwood, James Garner.
He designed a motorsports bucket seat, for which a patent was issued in 1971.
He owned a number of classic motorcycles, as well as several exotics and vintage cars, including:
  • Porsche 917, Porsche 908, and Ferrari 512 race cars from Le Mans (1971)
  • Porsche 911S (used in the opening sequence of Le Mans)
  • 1963 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Lusso
  • 1967 Ferrari 275GTB/4
  • 1956 Jaguar XKSS (right-hand drive) (now on exhibit at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, California)
  • 1958 Porsche 356 Speedster 1600 Super (black exterior, interior and top) (McQueen drove the car in numerous SCCA racing events)
  • 1968 Ford GT40 (Gulf liveried) (used in Le Mans)
  • 1953 Siata 208s (McQueen replaced the Siata badges with Ferrari badges and called it his "little Ferrari")
  • 1967 Mini Cooper-S (McQueen had the car customized by Lee Brown with changes including a single foglight, a wood dash, a recessed antenna and a custom brown paint job)
  • 1951 Chevrolet Styline De Lux Convertible (used in The Hunter (1980), McQueen bought the car in 1979 after filming ended)
  • 1952 Chevrolet 3800 pickup camper conversion (McQueen used the truck for cross-country camping trips. It was the last car he rode in before his death)
  • 1950 Hudson Commodore convertible
  • 1952 Hudson Wasp 2-door sedan
  • 1953 Hudson Hornet 4-door Sedan
  • 1956 GMC Suburban
  • 1958 GMC Pickup Truck (Reportedly one of McQueen's favorite cars, it is powered by a 336 Ci V8 which has been modified. The tag "MQ3188" is a reference to the ID number assigned to him when he was in reform school)
  • 1931 Lincoln Club Sedan
  • 1935 Chrysler Airflow Imperial Sedan
  • 1969 Chevrolet Baja Hickey race truck (Originally debuted at the 1968 Mexican 1000 Rally and was driven by Cliff Coleman, Johnny Diaz, Mickey Thompson and others during its racing career. Said to be the first truck specifically constructed by GM for use in the Mexican 1000, McQueen bought it from General Motors in 1970.).

Although he was the highest paid star of the 1960s, McQueen had a reputation for being tight-fisted. On some films he would demand ten electric razors and dozens of pairs of jeans. It was later reported he gave these to Boys Republic, a private school and treatment community for troubled youngsters, where he had spent a few years himself.
He has appeared in two films that have been selected for the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant: The Magnificent Seven (1960) and Bullitt (1968).
Appeared in two films nominated for Best Picture Academy Award: The Sand Pebbles (1966) and The Towering Inferno (1974).
Given he was a huge Hollywood star and that keeping a low profile was difficult, Steve McQueen went to great lengths to guard his private life.

Personal Quotes (35)

In my own mind, I'm not sure that acting is something for a grown man to be doing.
[interview in "TV Guide"] When a horse learns to buy martinis, I'll learn to like horses.
I don't believe in that phony hero stuff.
If I hadn't made it as an actor, I might have wound up a hood.
When I believe in something, I fight like hell for it.
Sometimes kids ask me what a pro is. I just point to the Duke [John Wayne]
I live for myself and I answer to nobody.
Stardom equals freedom. It's the only equation that matters.
I just want the pine trees and my kids and the green grass. I want to get rich and fat and watch my children grow.
An actor is a puppet, manipulated by a dozen other people. Auto racing has dignity. But you need the same absolute concentration. You have to reach inside yourself and bring forth a lot of broken glass.
Stardom equals financial success, and financial success equals security. I've spent too much of my life feeling insecure.
I really don't like to act. At the beginning, back in '52, I had to force myself to stick with it. I was real uncomfortable, real uncomfortable.
When a kid didn't have any love when he was small, he begins to wonder if he's good enough. You know if my mother didn't love me, and I didn't have a father, I mean, well, I guess I'm not very good.
You only say what's important and you own the scene.
I worked hard, and if you work hard you get the goodies.
I'm not sure whether I'm an actor who races or a racer who acts.
[on An Enemy of the People (1978)] The main thing I was shooting for was not to make bucks but to have something I could believe in.
The Marines gave me discipline I could live with. By the time I got out I could deal with things on a more realistic level. All in all, despite my problems, I liked my time in the Marines.
I believe in me. I'm a little screwed up but I'm beautiful.
They call me a chauvinist pig. I am . . . and I don't give a damn!
I have to be careful because I'm a limited actor. I mean, my range isn't very great. There's a whole lot of stuff I can't do, so I have to find characters and situations that feel right. Even then, when I've got something that fits, it's a hell of a lot of work. I'm not a serious actor. There's something about my shaggy-dog eyes that makes people think I'm good. I'm not all that good.
I'm out of the Midwest. It was a good place to come from. It gives you a sense of right or wrong and fairness, which is lacking in our society.
Listen, in Taiwan most people don't know who Lyndon B. Johnson is, but they sure as hell know who John Wayne is.
[on Dustin Hoffman] If a guy like him can become a star, what'll happen to guys like [Paul Newman] and me?
Every time I look in the rear-view mirror, I see Robert Redford.
[His last words] I did it.
The only time that I really honestly relax it seems is when I'm motor racing. I do relax a lot at speed. One really has to. You must stay relaxed because if any trouble comes up, you don't want to be tense, you want to stay very relaxed so that you can cope with it.
[on Le Mans (1971)] If we're going to do this, we are going to do it right. No typical Hollywood bullshit--no clever twists, no perfect ending. It has to be pure. And if we're going to do it about one race, it has to be Le Mans
I believe that I want to lead the type of life that I want to lead. In other words, my private life is my own, and I'll fight to have that.
I've hurried all my life. It's a way of life for me.
You only go around once in life and I'm going to grab a handful of it.
To me, a woman's ass is important. Jane Fonda always works out and keeps her ass in A-1 condition.
When I did 'The Great Escape,' I kept thinking, if they were making a movie of my life, that's what they'd call it - the great escape.
Hopefully, the cheap scandal sheets and curiosity seekers will not try to seek me out, so I can continue my treatment. I wanted to retain my sense of dignity as, for sure, I thought I was going to die.
I'm not a great actor - let's face it. I don't have a great deal of scope. There are certain things I can do, but when I'm bad, I stink. There's something about my shaggy dog eyes that makes people think I'm good. I'm not all that good.

Salary (24)

Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956) $19 /day
The Blob (1958) $3,000
The St. Louis Bank Robbery (1959) $4,000
Never So Few (1959) $75,000
The Magnificent Seven (1960) $100,000 (equivalent to $773,000 in 2012)
The Honeymoon Machine (1961) $100,000
Hell Is for Heroes (1962) $150,000
The War Lover (1962) $75,000
The Great Escape (1963) $400,000 (equivalent to $3,000,000 in 2012)
Soldier in the Rain (1963) $200,000 + 25% of the net to be paid to Solar Productions
Love with the Proper Stranger (1963) $300,000
Nevada Smith (1966) $300,000 + 25% of the Net.
The Sand Pebbles (1966) $300,000 + 25% of the Net
The Thomas Crown Affair (1968) $650,000 + 25% of the Net.
Bullitt (1968) $1,000,000 (equivalent to $6,500,000 in 2012)
The Reivers (1969) $700,000
Le Mans (1971) $750,000 + % of the gross
Junior Bonner (1972) $500,000
The Getaway (1972) No up front fee in exchange for 10% of the gross.
Papillon (1973) $2,300,000 + % of gross
The Towering Inferno (1974) $1,500,000 + 10% of the gross
An Enemy of the People (1978) $1,500 a week
Tom Horn (1980) 3,000,000 + 10% of the gross
The Hunter (1980) $3,000,000 + 15% of gross

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