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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)
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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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Turning to more weighty material, McQueen had better success with Junior Bonner (1972). He played the title character in this well-received family drama directed by Sam Peckinpah. Also in 1972,
McQueen starred in The Getaway with Ali McGraw. He and McGraw began an affair during filming—McGraw was married to film executive Robert Evans at the time. Their relationship became a scandal in the press. The couple married in 1973. McQueen had been previously married to dancer and actress Neile Adams with whom he had two children, Chad and Terry.
McQueen won accolades for his performance in Papillon (1973), starring opposite Dustin Hoffman in the prison drama. He played a hero in the disaster epic The Towering Inferno (1974). But his personal demons began to eclipse his talent. He drank and used drugs, and his relationship with McGraw became increasingly stormy. Both of his ex-wives later stated that he could be physically abusive and was often unfaithful.
Returning to the big screen in 1978, McQueen starred in An Enemy of the People based on the play by Henrik Ibsen. He was almost unrecognizable in the film with his long hair, beard, and heavier physique. Audiences did not know what to make of their action hero's portrayal of a scientist fighting against pollution. After this project failed at the box office, McQueen went on to more familiar roles. He starred in the Western Tom Horn (1980) and the modern action thriller The Hunter (1980).
By this time, however, McQueen was terribly ill. He had been experiencing flu-like symptoms and respiratory problems for awhile before it was discovered that he had cancer. An X-ray taken in late 1979 showed that he had a tumor in his right lung. The doctors said that his type of cancer stemmed from exposure to asbestos and was known to be aggressive and terminal. A short time after receiving this diagnosis, McQueen married model girlfriend Barbara Minty. The couple had met while McQueen was still married to McGraw, and they wed in January 1980.
McQueen spent the final months of his life in a clinic in Mexico, seeking alternative therapies for his cancer. He died on November 7, 1980, in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, after undergoing surgery to remove several tumors. McGraw once described McQueen as a "combination of farm boy and street tough," and it was the mysterious mixture that helped him leave an indelible impression on the world of the film.
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