Date of Birth : May 24th 1930

His first leading role was in the 1958 horror movie The Blob. His big break came when he replaced Sammy Davis, Jr. in the film Never So Few which starred Frank Sinatra. The always confident Sinatra took a liking to Steve and urged the director, John Sturges, to “Give the newcomer a break”. Sturges recognizing McQueen’s raw talent,  offered him roles in The Magnificent Seven and The Great Escape. Other classic McQueen films include Bullitt, Papillon, The Sand Pebbles, The Getaway, Le Mans, The Thomas Crown Affair, Junior Bonner, Tom Horn and The Towering Inferno among others.  His last film was The Hunter in 1980.

McQueen was a tremendous motorcyclist and racecar driver.  When insurance companies for the films allowed, he would perform many of his own stunts.  His most famous stunts were performed in The Great Escape where he did much of the bike riding and Bullitt where he did much of the driving.  Much to his dismay, the insurance companies would not allow him to perform the most dangerous stunts in either film which he always regretted. Contrary to popular belief, McQueen did not perform the the famous fence jump in The Great Escape.  Instead his good friend and stunt driver Bud Ekins made the jump. Steve always made a point to credit Bud Ekins for the jump whenever asked about it during  interviews.  There were many times someone would say “That was a GREAT jump!” and  he would say “Yeah, it was but I didn’t make it.” 

His love of racing led to movies and documentaries involving both car and motorcycle racing.  He made the film Le Mans in 1971 which is considered one of the best “documentary” films about the racing world. He did much of his own driving in the film.  He wanted to enter the actual Le Mans race that year but again the insurance companies intervened.  He also made the documentary film On Any Sunday. It follows the lives of motorcycle racers and racing enthusiasts, including actor Steve McQueen. First asking the question “Why do they do it?” this film looks at the people who devote (and sometimes risk) their lives to racing on tracks and off-road courses around the world.  It is considered one of the best documentaries of it’s kind even now. It was funded by his own production company, Solar Productions. He owned dozens of classic motorcycles and exotic sports cars worth millions. He was quite the “Man’s Man”, he rode bikes, flew planes, raced cars and was a 3rd degree black belt in karate. He trained under ninth degree black belt, Pat Johnson.  He was also great friends with Martial Arts experts Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris. He was a pallbearer at Bruce Lee’s funeral and both inspired and encouraged Chuck Norris to become an actor. Incidentally, both Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris taught Steve’s son, Chad, various forms of martial arts in which he excels as well.


The Hunter ( 1980 )

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Tom Horn ( 1980 )

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Papillon ( 1974 )

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The Great Escape ( 1963 )

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