- Reviewed by David M. Kinchen
Maxwell Scott: No, sir. This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend. — “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” 1962
Wouldn’t it be great if the image we have of Steve McQueen in, say “Bullitt” or “The Great Escape” or “The Sand Pebbles” or “The Thomas Crown Affair” — the ultimate Mr. Cool — matched the reality of a man who was unable to remain faithful to his first two wives, Neile Adams and Ali MacGraw and who beat them, relates Marc Eliot in “Steve McQueen: A Biography” (Crown Archetype, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group of Random House, 368 pages, photos, filmography, index, $26.00).
Eliot says although McQueen was born the same year 1930 (in Beech Grove, Indiana, a suburb of Indianapolis) as Clint Eastwood(also the subject of a biography by the prolific Eliot), he was obsessed with a fellow Midwesterner born in 1925, Paul Newman, from Cleveland, Ohio. They were on screen together in “The Towering Inferno” (1974).
That was fully three years after “Bullitt”, which directly inspired Eastwood’s franchise, even to the setting in San Francisco. It also made possible chase films like “The French Connection” (1971) and “Duel” (1971) Steven Spielberg’s directorial debut. Instead of following up with more “Bullitt” movies, beautifully directed by Peter Yates with a great cast and a magnificent score by Lalo Schifrin, McQueen jumped around in genres, often coming up with critical and box office duds.
About the Author
Marc Eliot is the “New York Times” bestselling author of more than a dozen books on popular culture, among them the highly acclaimed biographies American Rebel: The Life of Clint Eastwood, Cary Grant, and Jimmy Stewart; the award-winning Walt Disney: Hollywood’s Dark Prince; Down 42nd Street; what many consider the best book about the sixties, his biography of Phil Ochs, Death of a Rebel; Take It From Me (with Erin Brokovich); Down Thunder Road: The Making of Bruce Springsteen; To the Limit: The Untold Story of the Eagles; and Reagan: The Hollywood Years. He has written on the media and pop culture for numerous publications, including Penthouse, L.A. Weekly, and California magazine. He divides his time among New York City; Woodstock, New York; Los Angeles; and the Far East. His website: www.MarcEliot.net