Monday, July 02, 2012

Go Retro's Retro Hottie of the Month: Steve McQueen

Well friends, I don't think anyone who's been visiting the blog lately will be the least bit surprised by my choice for this month's Retro Hottie of the Month. Like REO Speedwagon sang, I just can't fight this feeling anymore. You know, usually when I choose a Retro Hottie, I try to pick a man who's just as sweet on the inside as he is on the outside. Someone with redeeming qualities that you would gladly bring home to mama. In other words, I try not to be too superficial with my choices, because it's what's on the inside that counts even more than the outside...right? However, there's a time and place for being completely, unabashedly, unapologetically superficial. Today is one of those times. 

Steve McQueen was the ultimate badass. It's not that underneath that rugged exterior he didn't have his moments of humility; a few weeks ago I posted about the interview he graciously granted to a high school student, which turned out to be his last. He loved animals and he quietly donated to several charities throughout his movie career, which no one knew about until after his untimely death. As one of my readers said, he was always thinking of the little guy, perhaps because of his own deprived childhood. Having said that, he probably was not the type of man most women would want to marry--he was a notorious philanderer; Ali McGraw claims that after he spent a night with two women (neither of which were her) he asked her to make them all breakfast. That takes serious cajones. He made his wives sacrifice their own careers in lieu of his own. He was also an alcoholic, a heavy drug user and patron of Mexican brothels. His first wife, Neile Adams, said that he held a gun to her head when he suspected her of cheating on him--even though he bedded many, many women while married to her. His increasing paranoia due to heavy cocaine use and physical abuse towards Neile eventually broke up the marriage. He locked horns with his male costars and directors, and fought with his colleague and friend Paul Newman to get top billing in The Towering Inferno

Perhaps he just couldn't help it. His mother was a prostitute; his dad, rumored to be a barnstormer in a traveling circus (which certainly explains where the daredevil genetics came from) abandoned the both of them shortly after McQueen was born. Like John Lennon, whose own father left him early and who was mostly raised by his aunt, McQueen was left for stretches at a time with a relative, his uncle. This man may have been the only steady adult male role model in his life--he gave him a tricycle, which fostered his passion for motorcycles and other fast machines, and introduced him to the great outdoors on his farm. But McQueen grew up with a rebellious streak nonetheless, joining a street gang and getting into trouble with petty crimes. And when you get a job working as a towel boy in a brothel as a teenager (and you're invited to sample the goods as a perk) how could you possibly grow up knowing how to properly date and love women? Luckily, he was admitted to the Boys Republic, a nonprofit school for troubled boys which he often visited and gave back to after he became a big movie star. His years there, plus his stint in the marines, probably saved his life. 

That said, there will never be another Steve McQueen (Jeremy Renner, are you listening?) When I'm watching a Steve McQueen movie, I simply cannot take my eyes off of him. The man was sex on a stick and simply damn beautiful to watch -- those steely blue orbs that convened so much in many roles without a spoken word, the slightly compact but muscular physique, the lines around the mouth, the naturally blond...well anyways, don't take my word for it. The photos say it all. Oh yeah. American pistol packing testosterone at its best. There's a reason (or a million reasons, perhaps) why he earned that "King of Cool" title.

I'm not going to credit every single photo here -- as my disclaimer says, I own none of the content (but as you can see, many of them came from Life magazine.) If one of them came from your site, I'll gladly give credit. 

The lady in some of these photos is Neile, McQueen's first wife, and the mother of his children. She was the great woman behind the man, and very instrumental at securing key movie roles for him. The Life photographer who took the series of previously unpublished photos said years later that he was surprised they divorced, as they seemed very much in love during the photo shoot. McQueen told the reporter at the time, "With strangers, I can't breathe...but I dig my old lady." 

"I'm a cowboy. On a steel horse I ride. I'm wanted--wanted--dead or alive."
At the height of his career, McQueen reportedly worked out for 2 hours a day (and boy, do those rockin' biceps show it!) In the mid-70s, however, he took a break from Hollywood and let himself go--gaining a lot of weight and growing a beard and long hair. He then appeared like this in the 1978 film Enemy of the People. This was supposed to be Steve's comeback but not surprisingly, it bombed. Movie fans expected to see the clean cut, handsome Steve and he was unrecognizable in the film. McQueen soon returned to his traditional appearance, thank goodness. 

I like this one. A lot. 
Natalie Wood with Steve in the film Love With the Proper Stranger. They had a real life fling later on, in between marriages.

Neile clowning around with her husband.

Photo via McQueenOnline.com
The McQueens: Steve, Neile, son Chad and daughter Terry.
Photo via McQueenOnline.com
Proof that even celebrities take awkward family photos. Click on it for a larger view. I dig Neile's dress and white go-go boots.
Photo via The Selvedge Yard
"You've got style, that's what all the girls say..."

That Mustang. That turtleneck. Sadly, McQueen wasn't allowed to do most of the driving in that infamous car chase scene from the movie--his long-time stunt double Bud Ekins was behind the wheel, but McQueen coordinated just about every aspect of the chase and the rest is movie history.

"I'm not sure whether I'm an actor who races or a racer who acts." Off camera, McQueen participated in many motorcycle and car races, many of them of the endurance quality. 
Photo via The First Steve McQueen Site
Harper's Bazaar, holding onto lucky lady Jean Shrimpton's leg. 
From The Films of Steve McQueen
Photo via The First Steve McQueen site
Photo via The First Steve McQueen site
Photo via The First Steve McQueen site

7 comments:

ApacheDug said...

I feel a little awkward commenting on "The Hottie of the Month" but the guys love Steve too, Pam--and this was an awesome tribute to the dude, I'm surprised how much I didn't know!

Love the photos too--well, most of 'em--man, you got it bad! :)

Thanks again for sharing the love, Pam!

Ruth said...

Yum, as far as I am concerned you could have stopped at the second photo. You know, with the turtle neck and laughing eyes...

TammyR said...

You did save the best for last. Well done, Pam!

JZ said...

The picture of Steve lying down with the woman in the bikini on top of him is majorly sexy...

Pam@GoRetro said...

Doug - thanks for the comments, and yes I've got it bad...and it's so good!

Ruth - nah, how could we stop there with all of the shirtless poses?

Tammy - Thank you!

JZ - I agree; that lucky lady lying on top of Steve is his first wife, Neile. I didn't bother including any of Ali McGraw or Barbara Minty (his second and third wives) because Neile was the coolest and the driving force behind much of his career.

Chelly said...

OMG! Hubba hubba. He's in a league all his own. I do love the Retro Hottie posts. Amazing post Pam. :)

Anonymous said...

Not only an extremely talented man, but very, very handsome. Had such a troubled childhood of which is so sad...Was happily surprised that he became a real Christian. And this happening before he found out about his cancer.

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