With a colorful background and love of fast living, his real life exploits put to shame anything seen in his films.
A noted motocross aficionado and racecar driver, Steve McQueen was born of Scotch roots in the throes of the Great Depression to a flying circus stunt flyer who abandoned him at an early age. Difficult family relations led to a hardscrabble youth as a real life juvenile delinquent and gangbanger, leaving him living on the streets at one point before being consigned to juvenile hall.
He later joined the merchant marine, went AWOL, worked in a whorehouse, on an oil rig, as a carnival barker and roustabout, joined the Marines, went AWOL again, did time in the brig…no question, he earned his reputation as a tough guy.
Turning to acting relatively late in life, he was already approaching the ripe old age of 30 by the time he landed his first notable role...as a teenager, mind...in a low budget sci fi horror film that would become a classic of the genre, The Blob.
With a lucky break in a Sinatra picture not far behind, McQueen proceeded to appear in a number of accepted classics: The Magnificent Seven. The Great Escape. The Thomas Crown Affair. Bullitt.
But a run of questionable choices and roles in less successful films left his last decade on much shakier ground, despite being the highest paid actor of his day, and much feted on television and even in commercial advertising...until one of his earlier decisions came back in the form of a terminal disease that took him from us at the relatively young age of only 50.
Join us tonight as we talk the highs and lows, triumphs and struggles of a man still put forth as a tough guy's tough guy, the inimitable Steve McQueen!
Week 75: The Quiet Cool of Steve McQueen