Born: Indiana, U.S., 1930
Died: Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, 1980
Known for being ‘The King of Cool’, his dimples and charming stare, Steve McQueen was one of the most prominent male film stars of the 1950s and 1960s, who embodied the strong and silent male role in films. His unique All-American boy style brought him to the forefront of fashion, combined with a rugged yet distinctively masculine look, something that not only made him a well-known film and TV icon, but also one of the most remembered style icons of the 1950s.
Born Terence Steven McQueen in Indiana 1930, McQueen had a rocky childhood and at the age of seventeen joined the Marine Corps. He initially found the Corps hard, but came out in 1950 after learning the Marine’s discipline and resolving to self-improvement. McQueen’s breakthrough role came on television, in the series ‘Tales of Wells Fargo’, whilst his real turning point came in the form of a role in ‘Never So Few’.
McQueen is notably remembered for his roles in ‘The Great Escape’, ‘The Magnificent Seven’, ‘Bullitt’ and ‘The Getaway’.
As a motorcycle and car enthusiast, McQueen was often seen in sportswear even when not racing. He uniquely gave it his own twist, combing sportswear with aviators – which have since then become his trademark- V-neck jumpers, slim cut suits and polo shirts. Even when he was racing, he looked the part; clad in double denim, biker boots and leathers, he gave racing a bad boy image.
However, when he was not racing, he looked the height of sophistication, earning him the honour of having the Rolex Explorer watch named after himself, which became known as the McQueen Rolex. Additionally, McQueen was an ambassador for Heuer Watches, and was responsible for catapulting the Monaco 1133B Caliber 11 Automatic Watch to fame, after promoting it in his movies. Apart from having a strong affiliation with watches, McQueen was especially famous for his love of Persol sunglasses. The blue tinted glasses became McQueen’s trademark, and the pair worn by him in his film ‘The Thomas Crown Affair’ sold at an auction in Los Angeles for over $70,000 in 2006.
In recent years, McQueen’s cultural impact has been celebrated through exhibitions and documentaries that explore his life and legacy. These retrospectives allow audiences to appreciate his lasting influence on popular culture and his significant contributions to cinema. Despite his untimely passing in 1980, McQueen’s enduring legacy as the ‘King of Cool’ remains intact. His on-screen charisma, rebellious spirit, and commitment to authenticity have cemented his status as a cultural icon. His impact on film, fashion, and popular culture continues to resonate, ensuring that his legacy will be remembered for generations to come.
Steve McQueen Biography