Happy Birthday Steve McQueen
McQueen was born Terence Steven McQueen in Beech Grove, Indiana, a suburb of Indianapolis, in Marion County. His father, William Terence McQueen, a stunt pilot for a barnstorming flying circus, abandoned McQueen’s mother six months after first meeting her. His mother, Julia Ann (née Crawford), was allegedly a rebellious alcoholic prostitute.
Unable to cope with bringing up a small child she left him with her parents (Victor and Lillian) in Slater, Missouri, in 1933. Shortly thereafter, as the Great Depression set in, McQueen and his grandparents moved in with Lillian’s brother Claude to his farm in Slater. McQueen was raised as a Roman Catholic.
He had good memories of the time spent on his great-uncle Claude’s farm. In recalling him, McQueen stated: “He was a very good man, very strong, very fair. I learned a lot from him.” On McQueen’s fourth birthday, Claude gave him a red tricycle, which McQueen later claimed started his interest in racing. At age 8, he was taken back by his mother and lived with her and her new husband in Indianapolis. McQueen retained a special memory of leaving the farm: “The day I left the farm Uncle Claude gave me a personal going-away present; a gold pocket watch, with an inscription inside the case.” The inscription read: “To Steve – who has been a son to me.”
McQueen, who was dyslexic and also partially deaf as a result of a childhood ear infection, did not adjust well to his new life. His new step-father would beat him so badly that at the age of nine he left home to live on the streets. Within a couple of years he was running with a street gang and committing acts of petty crime. Unable to control McQueen’s behavior, his mother sent him back to Slater. A couple of years later when McQueen was 12 Julia wrote to Claude asking that McQueen be returned to her once again, to live in her new home in Los Angeles, California. Julia, whose second marriage had ended in divorce, had married a third time.
Actor (41 titles)
Josh Randall – Bounty Hunter / Mal Cody / Wes Cody
Anthony Reeves / Henry Reeves
“Steve McQueen left an indelible imprint as one of Hollywood’s sexiest leading men. His balance of masculinity and sensitivity made him both a man’s man and a ladies’ man all at once. His revered roles in films such as Bullitt, The Great Escape, The Thomas Crown Affair and, Papillion have been often imitated but never repeated. An actor, race-car driver, and father, McQueen was the epitome of the American dream, rising from hardscrabble circumstances to become one of the most famous movie stars in the world.”
” McQueen drifted through odd jobs and three years of service in the marines before he began performing at New York’s Neighborhood Playhouse in 1952. He did occasional theatre work, making his screen debut with a bit part in Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956). His first starring role was in the camp horror classic The Blob (1958), and that same year he earned the lead role of a bounty hunter on the television series Wanted: Dead or Alive, which ran until 1961.
In the early 1960s, McQueen attained stardom when he appeared in two action films directed by John Sturges. The first of these was the western The Magnificent Seven (1960), in which he starred with Yul Brynner and Charles Bronson as defenders of a Mexican village. The second action film to refine McQueen’s image was The Great Escape (1963), in which he portrayed an allied captive in a World War II German prison camp who makes a daring motorcycle escape.”
” Turning to more weighty material, McQueen had better success with Junior Bonner (1972). He played the title character in this well-received family drama directed by Sam Peckinpah. Also in 1972,
McQueen starred in The Getawaywith Ali McGraw. He and McGraw began an affair during filming—McGraw was married to film executive Robert Evans at the time. Their relationship became a scandal in the press. The couple married in 1973. McQueen had been previously married to dancer and actress Neile Adams with whom he had two children, Chad and Terry.
McQueen won accolades for his performance in Papillon (1973), starring opposite Dustin Hoffman in the prison drama. He played a hero in the disaster epic The Towering Inferno (1974). But his personal demons began to eclipse his talent. He drank and used drugs, and his relationship with McGraw became increasingly stormy. Both of his ex-wives later stated that he could be physically abusive and was often unfaithful.”
McQueen Had A Need For Speed
Twelve Hours of Sebring (1970)
” Excerpt of original. This film captures the excitement of the 1970 12-hour endurance race at Sebring. It features Mario Andretti, Dan Gurney, Jackie Ickx, Pedro Rodriguez, and celebrity driver/actor Steve McQueen. There is non-stop racing action as Ferrari driver Mario Andretti barely escapes with the lead over Steve McQueen, driving with a cast on his broken foot. Produced by Triangle Productions in association with the Automobile Racing Club of Florida.”
To see full-length versions of this and other videos from the State Archives of Florida, visit http://www.floridamemory.com/video/.
He Was Also A Tremendous Motorcycle Rider Whether On-road Or Off
” Diagnosed with mesothelioma lung cancer (caused by exposure to asbestos – it is thought that the asbestos lined crash suit from his race car driving days was one potential source) in December 1979, he kept it a secret while filming “The Hunter” (1980), and died within a day after undergoing surgery to remove tumors from his right lung. He was married three times, to Neile Adams (1957 to 1972, divorced), to actress Ali MacGraw (1973 to 1978, divorced), and to Barbara Minty (1980 until his death). He often carried a pistol after it was determined that he topped the list of celebrities to be killed by the Charles Manson “Family;” oddly enough, he would claim to have a dinner appointment at the home of Roman Polanski-Sharon Tate the night she was murdered by the Manson group, but had to cancel the appointment; this claim is disputed by other Hollywood star watchers.”
Rest In Peace Steve