By Marc Eliot
Crown Archetype, Hardcover, 9780307453211, 368pp.
Publication Date: October 25, 2011
Steve McQueen is one of America’s legendary movie stars best known for his hugely successful film career in classics such as The Magnificent Seven, The Great Escape, The Thomas Crown Affair, Bullitt, and The Towering Inferno as well as for his turbulent life off-screen and impeccable style. His unforgettable physical beauty, his soft-spoken manner, his tough but tender roughness, and his aching vulnerability had women swooning and men wanting to be just like him. Today—nearly thirty years after he lost his battle against cancer at the age of fifty—McQueen remains “The King of Cool.” Yet, few know the truth of what bubbled beneath his composed exterior and shaped his career, his passions, and his private life.
Now, in Steve McQueen, New York Times bestselling author, acclaimed biographer, and film historian, Marc Eliot captures the complexity of this Hollywood screen legend. Chronicling McQueen’s tumultuous life both on and off the screen, from his hardscrabble childhood to his rise to Hollywood superstar status, to his struggles with alcohol and drugs and his fervor for racing fast cars and motorcycles, Eliot discloses intimate details of McQueen’s three marriages, including his tumultuous relationships with Neile Adams and Ali MacGraw, as well as his numerous affairs. He also paints a full portrait of this incredible yet often perplexing career that ranged from great films to embarrassing misfires. Steve McQueen, adored by millions, was obsessed by Paul Newman, and it is the nature of that obsession that reveals so much about who McQueen really was. Perhaps his greatest talent was to be able to convince audiences that he was who he really wasn’t, even as he tried to prove to himself that he wasn’t who he really was.
With original material, rare photos, and new interviews, Eliot presents a fascinating and complete picture of McQueen’s life.
“Most of us aren't really interested in the real McQueen, we just want the tough guy from Bullitt. Fortunately, author Marc Eliot isn't in that group. In Steve McQueen: A Biography, readers meet a complex, haunted man who might not make many most-admired lists….Eliot doesn't pass judgment on McQueen. Instead, he essentially retells the classic American drama: a man coming up from nothing and but for a quirk of fate — in McQueen's case, possession of a steely gaze that would do nothing on a stage but rivet a camera.”—USAToday.com, 3 out of 4 stars
“As Marc Eliot reminds us, Steve McQueen was just eight weeks older than Clint Eastwood. He might be alive still, as prominent, laconic, and anti-heroic a screen figure as Clint, and maybe even a notable producer and director. Eastwood has won just about every prize there is, and he has made the journey that probably appealed to him the most—from a working-class kid to a movie cowboy to one of the most esteemed figures and authentic stars remaining in American show business. Eastwood is an auteur and a respectable American. McQueen was none of those things…. [Yet] you can’t take your eyes off him. As an actor, he is more compelling and mysterious than Eastwood. “—David Thomson, The New Republic
“A fine biography that makes us feel like we know and understand its subject.” —Booklist
“McQueen’s life and the cultural context Eliot explores make for a good read.” —Library Journal