This video talks about the little known facts surrounding Steve McQueen's last days.
Steve McQueen was the world's most popular actor back in the 1960's. He was known for his action roles and his super cool persona. He got a big start on his career through the TV western Wanted Dead or Alive in his late 20's.. Before that he actually had joined a circus at the age of 14. During his childhood he reportedly had a lot of issues with his violent step-father.
In 1947, McQueen joined the United States Marine Corps and was promoted to private first class and assigned to an armored unit.Initially he reverted to his prior rebelliousness and was demoted to private seven times. He took an unauthorized absence by failing to return after a weekend pass expired, staying with a girlfriend for two weeks until the shore patrol caught him. He resisted arrest and spent 41 days in the brig. After this he resolved to focus his energies on self-improvement and embraced the Marines' discipline. He saved the lives of five other Marines during an Arctic exercise, pulling them from a tank before it broke through ice into the sea. He was assigned to the honor guard, responsible for guarding then US President Harry Truman's yacht. McQueen served until 1950, when he was honorably discharged. He later said he had enjoyed his time in the Marines.
There were 94 episodes of Wanted Dead or Alive made that ran from 1958 until early 1961and these episodes kept McQueen steadily employed during this time.
At 29, McQueen got a significant break when Frank Sinatra removed Sammy Davis, Jr., from the film Never So Few after Davis supposedly made some mildly negative remarks about Sinatra in a radio interview, and Davis' role went to McQueen.
McQueen played a lead role in the big Sturges film, 1963's The Great Escape, Hollywood's fictional depiction of the true story of a historical mass escape from a World War II POW camp, Stalag Luft III. The film was an international box office hit, but several of its leading actors years later said they objected to the way McQueen’s character was given a heroic role in what they had been told was to be an ensemble picture. Insurance concerns prevented McQueen from performing the film's notable motorcycle leap, which was done by his friend and fellow cycle enthusiast Bud Ekins, who resembled McQueen from a distance. When Johnny Carson later tried to congratulate McQueen for the jump during a broadcast of The Tonight Show, McQueen said, "It wasn't me. That was Bud Ekins." This film established McQueen's box-office clout and secured his status as a superstar.
McQueen was the world's highest-paid actor, but after 1974's The Towering Inferno, co-starring with his long-time professional rival Paul Newman and reuniting him with Dunaway, became a tremendous box-office success, McQueen all but disappeared from the public eye, to focus on motorcycle racing and traveling around the country in a motor home and on his vintage Indian motorcycles. He did not return to acting until 1978 with An Enemy of the People, playing against type as a bearded, bespectacled 19th-century doctor in this adaptation of a Henrik Ibsen play. The film was never properly released theatrically.
His last two films were loosely based on true stories: Tom Horn, a Western adventure about a former Army scout-turned professional gunman who worked for the big cattle ranchers hunting down rustlers, and later hanged for murder in the shooting death of a sheepherder, and The Hunter, an urban action movie about a modern-day bounty hunter, both released in 1980.
McQueen was an avid motorcycle and race car enthusiast. When he had the opportunity to drive in a movie, he performed many of his own stunts, including some of the car chase in Bullitt and the motorcycle chase in The Great Escape. Although the jump over the fence in The Great Escape was done by Bud Ekins for insurance purposes.
McQueen had a daily two-hour exercise regimen, involving weightlifting and, at one point, running 5 miles (8 km), seven days a week. McQueen learned the martial art Tang Soo Do from ninth-degree black belt Pat E. Johnson. McQueen, James Coburn and Chuck Norris were considered as friends of Bruce Lee and acted as his pallbearers.
Steve McQueen and Bruce Lee were really good friends. Bruce would teach Steve martial arts at his house, alongside Chuck Norris, Bob Wall, James Coburn and other movie stars at the time.
Unfortunately, from a health and fitness stand-point, McQueen was also known for his prolific drug use. William Claxton said he smoked marijuana almost every day; biographer Marc Eliot alleged he used a tremendous amount of cocaine in the early 1970s, and he was a heavy cigarette smoker. McQueen sometimes drank to excess, and was arrested for driving while intoxicated in Anchorage, Alaska, in 1972.
After Charles Manson incited the murder of five people, including McQueen's friends Sharon Tate and Jay Sebring, at Tate's home on August 9, 1969, it was reported McQueen was a potential target of the killers. According to his first wife, McQueen began carrying a handgun at all times in public, including at Sebring's funeral. Two months after the murders, police found a hit list with McQueen's name on it, a result of McQueen's company having rejected a Manson screenplay.
McQueen had an unusual reputation for demanding free items in bulk from studios when agreeing to do a film, such as electric razors, jeans, and other items. It was later discovered McQueen donated these things to the Boys Republic reformatory school, where he spent time in his teen years.
McQueen developed a persistent cough in 1978. He gave up cigarettes and underwent antibiotic treatments without improvement. Shortness of breath grew more pronounced and on December 22, 1979, after filming The Hunter, a biopsy revealed pleural mesothelioma, a cancer associated with asbestos exposure for which there is no known cure. A few months later, McQueen gave a medical interview in which he blamed his condition on asbestos exposure. McQueen believed that asbestos used in movie sound stage insulation and race-drivers' protective suits and helmets could have been involved, but he thought it more likely that his illness was a direct result of massive exposure while removing asbestos lagging from pipes aboard a troop ship while in the Marines.
By February 1980, evidence of widespread metastasis was found. While he tried to keep the condition a secret, the National Enquirer disclosed that he had "terminal cancer" on March 11, 1980. In July, McQueen traveled to Rosarito Beach, Mexico, for unconventional treatment after US doctors told him they could do nothing to prolong his life.
While in Mexico Steve McQueen met with Billy Graham. Graham gave him his personal Bible (which he was holding when he died).
In late October 1980, McQueen flew to Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico, to have an abdominal tumor on his liver (weighing around five pounds) removed, despite warnings from his US doctors that the tumor was inoperable and his heart could not withstand the surgery. McQueen checked into a small Juarez clinic under the assumed name of "Sam Shepard", where the doctors and staff were unaware of his actual identity.
On November 7, 1980, McQueen died of cardiac arrest at 3:45 a.m. at the Juárez clinic, 12 hours after surgery to remove or reduce numerous metastatic tumors in his neck and abdomen. He was 50 years old. According to the El Paso Times, McQueen died in his sleep.
Leonard DeWitt of the Ventura Missionary Church presided over McQueen's memorial service.
McQueen's third wife, Barbara Minty McQueen, in her book Steve McQueen: The Last Mile, wrote of McQueen's becoming an Evangelical Christian toward the end of his life. This was due in part to the influences of his flying instructor, Sammy Mason, Mason's son Pete, and Barbara herself. McQueen attended his local church, Ventura Missionary Church, and the visit by evangelist Billy Graham shortly before his death. The top video above goes into a lot more detail about this time period in McQueen's life. The video is a promotion of the film "Steve McQueen - American Icon." On the 28th of September, 2017, there was a selected showing in some theaters of his life story, "Steve McQueen - American Icon." https://www.stevemcqueenmovie.com . There will be an encore presentation on October 10, 2017.
There's also a book connected to the movie called, "Steve McQueen: The Salvation of an American Icon" by Greg Laurie.