"I live for myself and I answer to nobody." - Steve McQueen
A lot of ink has been spilled covering the lives of history's most influential figures, but how much of the forest is lost for the trees? In Charles River Editors' American Legends series, listeners can get caught up to speed on the lives of America's most important men and women in the time it takes to finish a commute, while learning interesting facts long forgotten or never known.
In the 1960s and 1970s, no actor personified cool, calm and collected like Steve McQueen, whose suave anti-hero protagonists made men jealous and women swoon. As actor Donald Logue puts it in The Tao of Steve, "Steve is the prototypical cool American male. He's the guy on his horse, the guy alone. He has his own code of honor, his own code of ethics, his own rules of living. He never, ever tries to impress the women, but he always gets the girl." And indeed, that was the case not only in movies like The Thomas Crown Affair, Bullitt, The Getaway, and Papillon, but also in real life. Actress Ali MacGraw, who later became one of his wives, described his effect on women: "I remember seeing him across the swimming pool and my knees were knocking. He radiated such macho energy. Men wanted to be like him. Uptight society ladies and biker molls wanted to be with him."
Unlike many actors who become this type of heartthrob, McQueen seemed to have the bona fides. Growing up rough and tough in the Midwest, McQueen was sent to a juvenile facility California because he didn't get along with his stepfather, and after that there he became a Marine.