Sunday, November 07, 2010

The Death of Steve McQueen

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketThree decades after his death - on this day in 1980 - Steve McQueen remains an icon of cool; one of an elite group of anti-heroes, his performances in films such as The Magnificent Seven (1960), The Great Escape (1963), Bullitt, and The Thomas Crown Affair (both 1968) are classics of the action-adventure genre. McQueen's only Oscar nomination, though, was for his role in The Sand Pebbles (1966).

He came by that tough-guy persona naturally, having run with gangs as a teenager, spent time at a home for wayward boys, and served a hitch in the Marine Corps. A racing enthusiast, McQueen did many of his own driving stunts in his movies (or at least as many as the insurance company would let him do); whether cars or motorcycles*, if it went fast, he wanted to be on it.

He died as fast as he lived, of a heart attack following surgery to remove a tumour from his lung; it was suspected the mesothelioma from which he'd been suffering was caused by exposure to asbestos. He'd received extensive exposure to the stuff during his years as a Marine, then latterly on soundstages and in racing togs.

*Or, indeed, actresses!

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