cover image Steve McQueen: A Biography

Steve McQueen: A Biography

Marc Eliot. Crown Archetype, $26 (384p) ISBN 978-0-307-45321-1

Following his biographies of Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart, Walt Disney, Phil Ochs, and others, Eliot now traces the "tragically short" career of McQueen, ranking him as "one of those actors, who, along with Eastwood and Newman, became a seminal force in the wake of the postwar Brando cinematic tsunami." This uneven biography devotes only a few pages to McQueen's turbulent, troubled youth (including 14 months in reform school), quickly moving on to Broadway, where he appeared in A Hatful of Rain. In 1958, after the top-10 success of his Wanted: Dead or Alive series on CBS, McQueen became "Hollywood's number one hotshot." During the 1960s, he ascended as a superstar in such films as The Great Escape, The Cincinnati Kid, The Sand Pebbles (which brought him an Oscar nomination), and Bullitt, moving into the 1970s with The Getaway and Papillon. By 1974, he was the world's highest paid actor, indulging in "drugs, fast cars, faster women" and confrontational, "idiosyncratic behavior'' on film sets. Eliot manages to capture the powerful drive and rough-hewn qualities of the adventurous actor, but many pages rehash the same anecdotes found in a dozen previously published McQueen biographies. (Oct. 25)