Pay Tribute to an Icon: It Is Steve McQueen’s Birthday

JUNIOR BONNER, Steve McQueen, 1972
Everett Collection

Today, March 24, 2023, would have been Steve McQueen‘s 93rd birthday! The popular ’60s and ’70s actor died at just 50 in 1980 after undergoing some unorthodox cancer treatments. He was diagnosed with mesothelioma and believed to be exposed to asbestos due to his love for fast cars and motorcycles. He had surgery to remove cancerous masses and died the next day. McQueen worked until his death, even while dealing with cancer, as his last two films were released in 1980 (Tom Horn and The Hunter).

Born on March 24, 1930, in Indiana, he spent some time at a reform school and later joined the U.S. Marine Corps. However, he found a love of acting and made his big-screen debut in the 1956 film Somebody Up There Likes Me, also starring Paul Newman. You may remember McQueen his first starring role in the cult classic The Blob (1958) with The Andy Griffith Show star Aneta Corsaut or the TV series Wanted: Dead or Alive. During the ’60s, McQueen solidified his role as a hero by starring in films such as The Magnificent Seven (1960), The Great Escape (1963), and Bullitt (1968).

Happy birthday, Steve McQueen!

THE GREAT ESCAPE, Steve McQueen, 1963 GES 002CP(49277)

Everett Collection

As the ’60s rolled into the ’70s, McQueen was one of the highest-paid actors of the time. He starred in The Getaway (1972) with Ali MacGraw (they were married from 1973-1978), Papillion (1973), and The Towering Inferno (1974). Often dubbed the “King of Cool,” he was always surrounded by incredible cars. McQueen loved cars in his personal life and was often seen driving some beautiful vehicles in his movies. Remember the opening scene of The Blob? He’s sitting in a blue 1953 Plymouth Cranbrook convertible and looks incredibly cool.

LE MANS, Steve McQueen, 1971

Everett Collection

Kelsy Norman, the host of a podcast based around McQueen’s life and career, told Toronto Star, “Bikes and cars weren’t just a hobby for McQueen. For him they were a lifestyle. They were a way for him to escape Hollywood. Anything with a motor represented freedom to him.” His love of cars didn’t end there, he was also a racer, competing against famous race car drivers such as Mario Andretti.

Steve McQueen with motorcycle on the set of GREAT ESCAPE, 1963

Everett Collection

McQueen once said, “I’m not sure whether I’m an actor who races or a racer who acts.” In 1970, he came in second place during a race with a broken foot, proving that he wasn’t just out there to play around and have some fun. Truly an icon, may he rest in peace. Now, be afraid… be very afraid of… THE BLOB!

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September 2017

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