Happy Birthday, Steve McQueen

#2 poster after Farrah Fawcett

…or as my generation knew him, Joe Fucking Cool

Steve McQueen would have been eighty years old today, and that just doesn’t seem possible. Nor does the fact that he died thirty years ago, a month before John Lennon was murdered. Needless to say, that was one tough winterSteve was never a kid and was never old – he was always a man. He was always the man. Even when the guy got busted, he was cool enough to flash the peace sign. That’s cool

He got his start on TV like so many actors did then – many of the best writers were feeding scripts to anthology series and live stage productions. In the midst of his run on Wanted Dead Or Alive he got a great break in one of the best Westerns ever made – The Magnificent Seven. After that, it was on

We didn't get any more than we expected, old man

Women were drawn to him, and why not? Here was a guy who did what he wanted to do, made the movies he wanted to make, and said more by saying less. And men – well, they wanted to be him, especially fellow actors. Every man who wanted to play a more subtle kind of cool – when a Brando take would be too over the top – echoed his poise. Hell, Kevin Costner has spent a career trying to be Steve McQueen

He did his own stunts and raced his own cars. He was instrumental in getting LeMans made when few had the passion for racing or thought it could be captured properly on film. 

Bullitt might be famous for the great car chase, but Steve’s performance is top-notch. Matched up against his Magnificent Seven buddy Robert Vaughn, he is serious, relentless, unflappable. Peter Yates proved to be the perfect director, and the cast and script were stellar. It is so taut and mesmerizing that you might need to see it a second time just to catch the subtle nuances of the plot…but even if you miss a few things the first time you will not feel cheated. But it was McQueen who was the thread; if you didn’t buy his character, you wouldn’t see the film through his eyes.  And that was the core of the magic

Watch some coolness 

His career, for all intents and purposes, spanned fifteen years. Before and after he made flicks like The Blob and The Towering Inferno, but during his run he was something special and unique. In the 70’s, followers like Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino and Gene Hackman found their footing and picked up the ball, showing the industry what great actors with discerning tastes could really do. 

Had Steve McQueen lived, I like to think he would have been like Gene Hackman – an actor’s actor. Instead, dead at fifty. We’ll never know. 

But we have do his legacy. Soak up The Sand Pebbles or Papillon. Revel in the revenge western Nevada Smith. See why remaking The Getaway was unnecessary. Be cool


Steve McQueen’s IMDB page


Filed under Orphaned

5 responses to “Happy Birthday, Steve McQueen

  1. Kayla

    This was really awesome. I absolutely adore the guy and I’m really glad that he has a legacy of great films for all to enjoy forever. Thanks for this.

  2. drbristol

    You’re welcome! I still find it hard to turn the channel if I stumble across Bullitt or TM7 or several of the classics he made, even though I’ve seen them all dozens of times over the years.

    I was in San Francisco last year and a friend showed me some of the streets where the car chase took place; I was able to achieve “liftoff” on one of them. Rental car and not a Shelby Mustang, but still…

  3. CascadianPDX

    I was in grade school in North Beach’s Hancock school on one awesome day when they were filming Bullitt. That car (I thought it was a Mach I?) buzzed the school several times. I was a little kid at the time, but I remember that car was super loud, as if it had straight pipes. Rental car?… makes me wonder. Anyway, we somehow ‘knew’ that it was Mr Cool himself driving that car and would totally disrupt class and run to the windows every time it roared by. I bet most, if not all of us, became instant fans for life.

  4. Rich Toscano

    Steve Mcqueen was the coolist actor and man to ever be on this earth. There just something about him that no one can duplicate. He had it all and just looking at him explains it all !!!

  5. Jan Olson

    The sexiest man that ever lived, bar none!!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s