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Steve McQueen

Updated on February 25, 2014

There's just something about those piercing blue eyes that grabs you and pulls you into whatever chase, rescue or love affair he happens to be a part of on screen. He is magnetic, the strong silent type that could outrun and out maneuver anyone in a car, boat or mortocyle chase and shoot them down before they even knew what was coming in a gunfight. He could give a woman a kiss that would make her eyes cross and get her in his bed in record time just by flashing that patened little half smile of his. He is an icon, a legend. Steve McQueen.

Steve with wife, Neile and son ,Terry.
Steve with wife, Neile and son ,Terry. | Source
With Natalie Wood. Costars in Love With A Proper Stranger.
With Natalie Wood. Costars in Love With A Proper Stranger.

Life and Loves

Steve McQueen was born Terence Steven McQueen on March 24, 1930 in Beech Grove, Indiana. He married his first wife, Neile, in 1956. They had two sons, Terry and Chad, before divorcing in 1972. Following his first marriage, he was married twice more. First, from 1973 to 1978, to his costar from The Getaway, Ali MacGraw and then to Barbara Minty from January 1980 until his death later that year.

Sadly, Steve McQueen passed away in Mexico on November 7, 1980. He'd been hit with two consecutive heart attacks that had followed a surgery he'd had less than twenty-four hours earlier to remove cancer from his lung and stomach. For nearly a year, he had been suffering quietly with mesothelioma, a form of lung cancer brought on by exposure to asbestos, that was continually getting worse and killing him. During that time, McQueen had tried a variety of unsuccessfully homeopathic remedies in an attempt to lengthen the live he so loved. Though he had smoked cigarettes for years, it was his exposure to asbestos in his racing suits that ultimately caused his cancer. An asbestos lining was popular for the time in the suits drivers wore while racing cars and the dangers of such a practice had not yet come to light. It was even remarked by his ex-wife, Neile, that Steve would often soak a rag in liquid asbestos to wear over his mouth while he raced in order to block out the fumes of the cars' exhaust. His ashes were scattered at sea.

During his life, Steve McQueen starred in thirty films and also played the role of Josh Randall in the television series Wanted: Dead or Alive. His string of blockbusters and iconic roles is impressive to say the least and the list of parts he turned down is eye opening. Steve McQueen was the highest paid star of the 1960s. A highly sought after actor, he became a poster boy for the tough and sexy, always cool leading man whose most memorable roles will continue to live on in popular culture.

The Films

While Steve McQueen's filmography is extensive, with some thirty movie titles, some are far more memorable than others. Although he got his start with little known leads in movies like 1958's sci-fi thriller, The Blob, it was his roles in movies such as The Magnificent Seven, Papillon and The Great Escape that brought him the most notoriety. These are the films, along with others like The Getaway, Junior Bonner, Cincinatti Kid, Thomas Crown Affair, The Towering Inferno, Bullitt and The Sand Pebbles that have left the most lasting impressions on fans.

Along with his string of hits, there were also some surprising misses. Some of the roles McQueen turned down, or wasn't able to fill, became huge earners for other actors. Starring roles in such films as Breakfast at Tiffany's, Ocean's Eleven, Dirty Harry, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, First Blood, A Bridge too Far, Apocolypse Now, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Superman and Close Encounters of the Third Kind could have all been his.


Notable Co-Stars
Girl On The Run
Somebody Up There Likes Me
Never Love a Stranger
The Blob
Steve Andrews
The Great St. Louis Bank Robbery
George Fowler
Never So Few
Bill Ringa
Frank Sinatra, Peter Lawford, Gina Lollabridgida
The Magnificent Seven
Vin Tanner
Eli Wallach, James Coburn, Yul Brenner
The Honeymoon Machine
Lt. Ferguson Howard
Hell is for Heroes
Bobby Darin, James Coburn
The War Lover
Capt. Buzz Rickson
The Great Escape
The Cooler King
James Coburn, Charles Bronson, James Garner and Richard Attenborough
Soldier in the Rain
Sgt. Eustis Clay
Love With a Proper Stranger
Rocky Papasano
Natalie Wood
Baby the Rain Must Fall
Henry Thomas
The Cincinnati Kid
The Cincinnati Kid
Ann-Margaret, Rip Torn
Nevada Smith
Nevada Smith
The Sand Pebbles
Jake Holman
Candice Bergen, Richard Crenna, Richard Attenborough
The Thomas Crown Affair
Thomas Crown
Faye Dunaway
Frank Bullitt
Jaqueline Bisset, Robert Duvall
The Reivers
Boon Hogganbeck
Le Mans
Michael Delaney
On Any Sunday
Junior Bonner
Junior Bonner
Ida Lupino, Joe Don Baker
The Getaway
Doc McCoy
Ali MacGraw, Slim Pickens
Henri (Papillon) Charriere
Dustin Hoffman
The Towering Inferno
Chief Mike O'Hallorhan
Paul Newman, Faye Dunaway, Fred Astaire, Robert Wagner, OJ Simpson
An Enemy of the People
Dr. Thomas Stockmann
Tom Horn
Tom Horn
Linda Evans
The Hunter
Papa Thorson

The Legacy

Steve McQueen was only 50 years old when he died. He left behind two sons, a wife and two ex-wives. He was, and still is, the epitome of cool, earning him the nickname, "The King of Cool". He had a lifelong love of racing and motorcycles and did much of his own driving in his films such as Bullitt and The Great Escape. He was even able to show off some of his technique in the Oscar nominated documentary about motorcycle racing, On Any Sunday and by appearing as an uncredited dirt bike rider in the film Dixie Dynamite.

He served as a private in the United States Marine Corps until 1950 when he was honorably discharged. Steve gained a reputatation amongst directors and producers of being difficult to work with as he would often request items, such as razors and jeans, to be left in bulk in his dressing room. It was later learned that he was giving the itmes to a boys home for troubled kids that he had even spent some time at as a youngster.

McQueen began acting in 1952 at a Neighborhood Playhouse and continued on in films and television until his death. Even thirty plus years after his death, his film roles live on and have shown that they will continue to endure. Steve McQueen created the blueprint for the strong, tough but sexy leading man that actors are still striving to match today.

Steve McQueen "The King of Cool"


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    • To Start Again profile imageAUTHOR

      Selina Kyle 

      7 years ago

      Wow thank you Kenneth! What a wonderful comment :)

      I love Steve McQueen. He has something that not many others do, something that just pulls you in and holds on. And it's always nice to meet another McQueen fan!

      Yes, you can list your other hubs in a link capsule or you can link to them within your hubs. I do that often so throughout my hubs, you can see examples of it. It's a good way to urge readers to check out your other work.

      Thank you again for the amazing and kind words and I will certainly be checking out some of your hubs! :D

    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 

      7 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hello, To Start Again,

      This is an excellent piece of writing. Amazing, to be precise.

      I loved every word of it.

      I loved him as "Cooler King," in The Great Escape and Bullitt, the still-most talked about chase scene ever.

      He also had a hit western in the early 60's where he played "Josh Randal," a bounty hunter in Wanted: Dead or Alive.

      I loved this guy.

      Voted up and all the choices because you deserve it. You have such

      a gift for writing. Just use it without a selfish motive and no telling at how far you will go

      and how many people you will touch.

      I am going now to leave you some fan mail and become a follower.

      I cordially invite you to read one or two of my hubs, and be one of my followers.

      If you want to leave me any tips, suggestions on how to impove my hubs, just tell me. I need

      all of the help I can get.


      Kenneth/ from northwest Alabama

      P.S. I didn't realize we were allowed to list some of our own hubs in a hub we have published.

    • To Start Again profile imageAUTHOR

      Selina Kyle 

      8 years ago

      I do love Robert Redford :) Butch and Sundance is one of my favorite movies. I will definitely have to go check that out!

    • epigramman profile image


      8 years ago

      Good afternoon Selina and I love promoting people here at the Hub.

      My buddy SUZETTE NAPLES has an awesome hub tribute to Robert Redford so hop on over there if you can and tell her I sent you and tell her about your fabulous Steve McQueen hub. I am off now to check out some more of your hubs here my friend

    • To Start Again profile imageAUTHOR

      Selina Kyle 

      8 years ago

      Thank you so much for the amazing comment, Colin :) This truly was a labor of love- If you can't tell, he's one of my very favorite actors of all time-I just adore him :)

      I did know those bits of trivia. Pretty amazing life he led, wasn't it? It's a shame he passed too early...

      Thanks for reading, I am so glad you enjoyed it and it is always nice to hear from another fan of the King of Cool! :)

    • epigramman profile image


      8 years ago

      Hello and good evening Selina from lake erie time ontario canada 10:37pm courtesy of Colin and his cats Little Miss Tiffy and Mister Gabriel and this must be the definitive/essential Steve McQueen - damn, that man was so cool and he didn't even have to say anything.

      Did you know he turned down the lead to The French Connection and the part of Sundance Kid that eventually went to Robert Redford.

      Also he was scheduled to arrived at the Sharon Tate home on the night she was murdered by the Manson family (he knew her) and on the way there he picked up a young female hitchhiker and turned around and went home.

      So nice to meet you Miss Taylor and you have an awesome selection of hubs here and this one is a true labor of love courtesy of its lovely author.

      Sending you warm wishes and good energy ......

    • To Start Again profile imageAUTHOR

      Selina Kyle 

      10 years ago

      Popcorn and Steve McQueen?? Yum! Enjoy!

    • mckbirdbks profile image


      10 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Well, I gotta go, popcorn in the microwave, and Steve is on the DVD. Thanks for a great Hub.

    • To Start Again profile imageAUTHOR

      Selina Kyle 

      10 years ago

      Well you know how I feel about Old Hollywood ;) Steve McQueen is one of my all time favorite actors. You have to start with a really good old movie if you haven't seen any before. If you're looking for a good McQueen to start with, I would suggest Junior Bonner or Thomas Crown Affair. And from someone with plenty of vices myself, what's one more gonna hurt ;)

    • Haunty profile image


      10 years ago from Hungary

      Wow, that sure is some pretty impressive career. I'll try to get my hand on a Steve McQueen movie somehow. Shame, but I don't know him that much. Also, are old movies addictive? I'm prone to addictions. Have one too many already. :)

    • To Start Again profile imageAUTHOR

      Selina Kyle 

      10 years ago

      Thanks Keith- funny thing is I always accidentally call Lightening McQueen 'Speed' McQueen, I guess because it does make me think of Steve McQueen. And that's why we have kids isn't it? To have an excuse to watch cartoons again? That's why I did it.

      Thomas Crown Affair is one of my favorites but you must know I am slightly obsessed with old movies so I encourage you to see more. I would start with some more McQueen ;)

    • Keith Worth profile image

      Keith Worth 

      10 years ago

      I wonder if he's of any relation to Lightning McQueen.

      Clearly I've been watching too many cartoons with my son, yeah that's my excuse.

      Impressive job, The Thomas Crown Affair is one of the few movies older than me that I actually like to watch.

    • To Start Again profile imageAUTHOR

      Selina Kyle 

      10 years ago

      Thnk you!

    • Cogerson profile image


      10 years ago from Virginia

      Very nice...I have a different type of McQueen hub as well....great job


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