Steve McQueen

Over the years I have written columns about several of my favorite actors but I decided for a change I would write about one of Otto’s favorites; he enjoyed watching movies and for years, one of the career performers that he followed was Steve McQueen.

His formal name was Terrance Steven McQueen; he was born in Beech Grove, Indiana on March 24, 1930.  According to my research his father was a stunt pilot for a barnstorming flying circus and his mother was described as an alcoholic and a prostitute.

At a young age his mother and father left him with his Uncle Claude, who thought of him as a son, and even though Mom sent for Steve over the early years, he continued to return to his uncle who owned a farm. Finally the rebellious young boy was sent to the California Junior Boys Republic in Chino, a reform school where he stayed until he ran away to join the circus at age sixteen.

Even though he spent most of his youth as a member of a street gang and was educated at the reform school, he became known as the "King of  Cool." During the 1960-70s, he rose above those circumstances to become the highest paid movie-star in the world.

In August 1969 he chose to spend the night with a girlfriend rather 
than attend a party; the event was by private invitation to the home of Sharon Tate and later became newspaper headlines as the site of the Manson murders.

Beneath the tough guy persona, McQueen was quite talented, he was a pilot, a race car driver and mechanic, served in the Marine Corps, holds a patent for designing a motor sports bucket seat, and achieved black belt status in martial arts.  He was a well-known collector of  vehicles, race cars and high end luxury, assorted airplanes to include a bi-plane, and expensive motorcycles. One of his most famous movie roles was starring in "The Towering Inferno" even though the film was half-over before he appeared on the screen.  He won an Academy Award nomination for his role in the movie the "Sand Pebble."

Steve McQueen was known for having numerous romantic affairs with stars and fashion models.  He was married three times, was the father of a son and a daughter and eventually had four grandchildren.  He never watched his movies and did not allow his children to view them. In 1979, Steve McQueen was shocked when he was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma, cancer of the lining of the lung, which may have been a result of being exposed to asbestos during his years serving in the Navy.  He sought treatment at a clinic in Mexico and the doctors proclaimed that they had cured his cancer.

Unfortunately, McQueen died November 7, 1980 at age fifty from cardiac arrest after emergency surgery was performed in an attempt to remove several painful tumors.

At his request, his body was cremated and his ashes were scattered in the Pacific Ocean..

Brenda S. Brown 


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