The complex, contradictory Steve McQueen was one of cinema’s greatest icons

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“Magnificent Seven” second-in-command gunslinger Steve McQueen [1930–1980] presciently once acknowledged, “I’ll never be as good an actor as I want to be. But I’ll be good.” Meanwhile, the King of Cool is depicted on his Bud Ekins custom-built Triumph Desert Sled motorcycle dressed in the same navy blue T-shirt as seen in the World War II Eastern Front epic “The Great Escape” filmed in 1962. Image Credit: Photofest

The Marshall Terrill Interview

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Steve McQueen is paroled bank robber Doc McCoy in “The Getaway,” dropped on December 19, 1972. The King of Cool’s multi-faceted characterization of the brooding, explosive husband of partner-in-crime Carol McCoy [Ali MacGraw] became his second and final collaboration with maverick action director Sam Peckinpah. “The Getaway” ranks easily among McQueen’s most lucrative box office earners. Photography by Mel Traxel / Warner Bros. / appears on page 419 of “Steve McQueen: In His Own Words”
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Polo Pope [Harry Guardino] comforts his panicked, morphine-addicted younger brother Johnny [Steve McQueen] in “A Hatful of Rain” at New York City’s Lyceum Theatre sometime in July or August 1956. Regarding McQueen’s sole Broadway credit, Marshall Terrill explained that “he lacked the inner techniques to make the role of Johnny Pope his own and was unable to deal with ‘Hatful’s’ drug aspects.” Peter Mark Richman took over the part after McQueen’s brief two-month sojourn. Image Credit: The Kandee Nelson Collection / appears in “Steve McQueen: The Life and Legend of a Hollywood Icon”
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“Josh Randall follows a hunch to a bank robber’s strange hideaway — and unusual danger!” A rare May-July 1960 issue of Dell Comics turns the spotlight towards Steve McQueen’s breakout starring role as the indefatigable bounty hunter of the 30-minute black and white CBS western “Wanted: Dead or Alive.” Image Credit: Random House / Heritage Auctions
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On page 239 of “Steve McQueen: The Life and Legend of a Hollywood Icon,” Marshall Terrill clarifies, “Jake Holman, McQueen’s character in ‘The Sand Pebbles’ [1966], was the embodiment of the loner; he was a rebel at odds with himself and his environment. Holman is arguably McQueen’s most complex character up to this point — an unlikely hero who finds it easier working among the gears and pistons of an engine room than he does fellow sailors. McQueen perfectly conveys the character’s unease as a sailor at war [participating in the Yangtze River Patrol in 1920s China], conflicted between doing his duty on the San Pablo yet wanting to explore a possible future with the American missionaries…the role shows McQueen’s ability to combine action, romance, and tragedy in a thoroughly believable and moving performance.” Image Credit: 20th Century Fox / Walt Disney Studios
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“He plays the game very hard, very close to the ground, very erratic:” Introducing the first page of Betty Rollin’s January 27, 1970, feature story entitled “Steve McQueen: Mr. Manmanship,” published in LOOK magazine. By October 1971 the Life magazine rival had ceased publication. Image Credit: eBay user Leix38
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“When I believe in something, I fight like hell for it:” Steve McQueen’s dark brown leather trench coat has room for two as he affectionately embraces leading lady Natalie Wood in a publicity photo for “Love with the Proper Stranger,” issued on Christmas Day 1963. Rendering a devil-may-care jazz trumpeter who knocks up a sheltered Macy’s salesgirl, McQueen’s first romantic lead in a movie was filmed in black and white in New York City. Although McQueen was snubbed, Wood earned her third and final Oscar nomination following “Rebel Without a Cause” and “Splendor in the Grass.” Photography by William Claxton / Paramount Pictures
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Steve McQueen and soon-to-be-second wife Ali MacGraw are a convincing, battle-scarred couple on the ingenious February 1973 cover of Esquire magazine taken during the filming of Sam Peckinpah’s “The Getaway.” Art would imitate life as both MacGraw and McQueen were notoriously strong-willed personalities. MacGraw’s dentist probably charged a fortune to repair her missing front tooth. Image Credit: Cover by Jean-Paul Goude, Richard Weigand, and George Lois from a painting by Goude / Hearst Magazines / appears on page 415 of Andrew Antoniades and Mike Siegel’s “Steve McQueen: The Actor and His Films”
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Circa 1976–1977, world champion kickboxer Howard Jackson, Pat Johnson, Steve McQueen, and Chuck Norris are bona fide buddies inside the latter’s karate studio at 14556 Ventura Boulevard, Sherman Oaks, California. Sporting a tongue in cheek “Be My Valentine” T-shirt, the heavily bearded, incognito McQueen resembles a cuddly grizzly bear. Image Credit: The Pat Johnson Collection / appears on page 262 of Marshall Terrill’s “Steve McQueen: A Tribute to the King of Cool”
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Steve McQueen holds the American flag as a member of the five-man American team in the International Six-Day Trials held in Erfurt, East Germany, on September 5, 1964. The King of Cool, who likely took a drag from his cigarette when the cameras were elsewhere, competed against the world’s top motorcycle racers. Marshall Terrill divulged in “The Life and Legend of a Hollywood Icon” that “McQueen did well in the race until he was sideswiped by a spectator who suddenly rode his motorcycle out on the track. The actor was sent airborne and landed brutally, his face smashing against a rock and the skin torn from his kneecaps.” Photography by Francois Gragnon / Paris Match / Getty Images / appears on page 208 of “Steve McQueen: In His Own Words”
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Paroled Texas rockabilly musician Henry Thomas [Steve McQueen] deliberates his next move in director Robert Mulligan’s little-seen “Baby, the Rain Must Fall,” a somber change of pace drama as well as McQueen’s final black and white film released by Columbia Pictures on January 13, 1965, with Lee Remick, Don Murray, and Paul Fix. The still was chosen as the cover of Marshall Terrill’s “Steve McQueen: In His Own Words,” a mammoth coffee table book dropped on November 7, 2020, coinciding with the 40th anniversary of the icon’s death. Image courtesy of Dalton Watson Fine Books
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“So the story is,” says Marshall Terrill, “my publisher at Dalton Watson wouldn’t even consider this shot from ‘The Great Escape’ for ‘Steve McQueen: A Tribute to the King of Cool’ [2010]. Then I thought, ‘Well, I’ll use it for ‘Steve McQueen: The Life and Legend of a Hollywood Icon’ [2010]. Still no go.” Note that “Legacy” was originally part of the title before it was altered to the final “Legend.” Image courtesy of Marshall Terrill
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Eight-time Steve McQueen author Marshall Terrill and Zoe Linn have been contentedly married since 1998. Here they are on their 20th wedding anniversary, intentionally coinciding with Valentine’s Day. Linn, employed in the field of identity protection, also co-authored “Sergeant Presley” in 2002 with her husband and Rex and Elisabeth Mansfield. The couple met when Terrill was a reporter for the Arizona-based East Valley Tribune and Linn worked in the newspaper’s sales department. Image Credit: The Zoe Linn Terrill Collection

The Subject Was Steve McQueen: The Marshall Terrill Bibliography

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Retro pop culture interviews & lovin’ someone fierce sustain this University of Georgia Master of Agricultural Leadership alum. Email: jeremylr@windstream.net

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