Steve McQueen: Remembering The Cool

There are only three actors I think of as cool, and McQueen was top of the heap. The silent cool, where Newman was a charmer and Grant did it with wit. McQueen's acting was more about drawing attention to what was already there than adding to the script -- a twirl of a gun, a whistle, an eyebrow, a smirk and head nod before looking away...

And there was a boyish arrogance to McQueen - the sports cars and motorcycles, the women, the flippant regard for authority - but he earned the points because that was just him. The racer. The biker. The brawler and playboy. What Thompson did for journalism, McQueen did on screen.

Born March 24, 1930 in Indiana, McQueen was a young roustabout. "Incorrigible" according to the judge that sent him to Chino. Spent some early years in a boys reformatory home up there before heading off for the Marines.

Honorably discharged in 1950 and a Broadway actor by 1955, McQueen had a "take what I can" attitude stealing his first wife from a friend, and he even told the guy he was going to do it. By the early Sixties, he had starred in The Magnificent Seven and The Great Escape, and by the end of the decade had finished both Bullitt and The Thomas Crowne Affair, making him a full-fledged star and trendsetter.

His personal life was a mythos of strange cultural footholds all its own -- a pallbearer at Bruce Lee's funeral and a potential target of Charlie Manson's (he carried a revolver in public) among other things. McQueen died in 1980 from cancer, the highest paid actor in the world, but his impact on pictures, as well as style and grace remain undeniable. Happy Birthday Papillon. Rest in peace.

1 comment:

  1. http://acontinuouslean.com/2009/03/24/steve-mcqueen-in-sports-illustrated/


Related Posts with Thumbnails