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American film star Steve McQueen was one of the most popular and well-paid actors of the 1960s and ‘70s. He starred in films like The Great Escape, Bullit and The Getaway.
Robert Redford - Early Life (3:15)
Paul Newman - Philanthropist (2:21)
A short biography of Steve McQueen who scored big with his first hit film, "The Magnificent Seven." Considered a rebel from an early age, his outsider persona earned him the nickname "The King of Cool."
Watch a short video about the early life of Hollywood legend Robert Redford.
Watch a short video about Paul Newman whose acting career earned him eight Oscar nominations. In his later years, he became a prolific philanthropist, launching his own successful charity.
After tasting oily salad dressing in a restaurant, Paul Newman, almost as a joke, took his Newman?s Own salad dressing to supermarkets and donated the profits to charity.
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After being discharged from the Marines in 1950, McQueen spent some time in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and Washington, D.C., before returning to New York City. He hung out in the Greenwich Village neighborhood, a Bohemian enclave at the time. For a time, McQueen seemed aimless, moving from place-to-place and from job-to-job. He discovered his calling with the help of an aspiring actress girlfriend. With support from the G.I. Bill,
McQueen enrolled at the Neighborhood Playhouse run by Sanford Meisner in 1951.
McQueen's first role as an actor was a bit part in a Yiddish theatrical production. He only had one line and was cut from the show after four nights. Despite this setback, it was apparent that McQueen had talent. He won a scholarship to study at the Uta Hagen-Herbert Berghof School in 1952. A few years later, McQueen was accepted to the prestigious Actors Studio where he studied with Lee Strasberg.
In 1956, McQueen made his one and only appearance on Broadway. He took over the leading role from Ben Gazzara in A Hatful of Rain, playing junkie Johnny Pope. On the big screen, McQueen had a small part in Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956), which starred Paul Newman. He felt a rivalry with Newman, a fellow member of the Actors Studio.
While more parts came his way, McQueen did not experience his first big career breakthrough until 1958. He starred in the television western Wanted??Dead or Alive as bounty hunter Josh Randall. The show became a big hit, and McQueen started to attract more attention from Hollywood. In 1959, he starred in the crime drama The Great St. Louis Bank Robbery. McQueen also appeared with Frank Sinatra in the war drama Never So Few that same year. Around this time, he discovered a passion for race-car driving. McQueen was already a longtime fan of motorcycles.
In 1960, McQueen had a leading role in the western The Magnificent Seven with Yul Brynner and Charles Bronson. His television show ended that same year, giving him the opportunity to take on more film roles. With 1963's The Great Escape, McQueen earned top billing, showing the world that he was a bona fide movie star.
More box-office hits followed, including gambling drama The Cincinnati Kid (1965) and Western Nevada Smith (1966). McQueen received his only Academy Award nomination in 1966 for his work on The Sand Pebbles, a military drama. In the film, he played a Naval engineer stationed on a gun boat in China during the 1920s. McQueen scored another success with the romantic crime caper The Thomas Crown Affair in 1968 with Faye Dunaway as his love interest.
That same year, McQueen made movie history with one of the all-time best car chases in Bullitt. He played a San Francisco cop who pursued suspects through the city's hilly streets in one of the wildest rides ever filmed. He tried to tap into his love of car racing in 1971's Le Mans, with only limited success. In an effort to have more creative control, McQueen formed First Artists Productions with Barbara Streisand, Sidney Poitier, Paul Newman, and Dustin Hoffman that same year.
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