50 (passed away Nov. 7th, 1980)
Mar. 24th, 1930
Beech Grove, Indiana, USA
5' 9 1/2
Steve McQueen's Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles
Guest TV Roles[none found]
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.
His first lead role was in the low-budget sci-fi film The Blob (1958), quickly followed by roles in The Great 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 WW2 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 WW2 POW 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 (I) 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, He returned to more familiar territory in 1971, with the race film Le Mans (1971), a rather self-indulgent exercise, and its slow plotline contributed to its rather poor performance in theaters. It wasn't 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 Charri�re 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 (I) and an impressive line-up of co-stars including Fred Astaire, Robert Vaughn (I) 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. It was, however, McQueen's last film role for several years, as he began a long fight against cancer, often resorting to offbeat therapies in an attempt to beat the disease. 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.
The spreading cancer was taking its toll on his body. 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). Steve McQueen passed away on November 7, 1980, only 50 years of age, 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."
- Appears, helmeted and uncredited, as a motorcyclist in the 1976 B-movie _Dixie Dynamite (1976)_ (qv), starring 'Warren Oates' (qv) and 'Christopher George (I)' (qv). 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)_ (qv) and _Apocalypse Now (1979)_ (qv)), 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 later regretted turning down 'Roy Scheider' (qv)'s role in _Sorcerer (1977)_ (qv).
- 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 to Solar Productons, Inc and would produce many films under this banner until his death.
- (October 1997) Ranked #30 in Empire (UK) magazine's "The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time" list.
- When he briefly left _The Great Escape (1963)_ (qv) 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 (I)' (qv) and 'James Garner' (qv) that convinced him to return. Because of its huge success and continuing popularity, it has become his best known role.
- Turned down 'Gene Hackman' (qv)'s Oscar winning role as drug-busting cop Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle in _The French Connection (1971)_ (qv) because he thought the movie was too similar to _Bullitt (1968)_ (qv).
- His role in _Never So Few (1959)_ (qv) was originally going to be played by 'Sammy Davis Jr.' (qv). A feud had broken out between Davis and 'Frank Sinatra' (qv) 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.
- The "King of Cool" became a born-again Christian shortly before he died, due to the influence of his third wife 'Barbara Minty' (qv) and his flying instructor Sammy Mason. He went through bible studies with the Reverend 'Billy Graham (I)' (qv). 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".
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