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Today in History: (1980) The King of Cool Steve McQueen Dies of Cancer

Racer, actor, delinquent, man of life – these are some of the things that made Steve McQueen the King of Cool. Read on to find out more about his life, work and legacy after the cut.

He was a delinquent; he stole hubcaps from cars and fell in with a street gang. He worked as a towel boy in a brothel as a means to earn a living. He joined the Marines, went AWOL and was put in the brig for that but reformed his life and disciplined himself for the better. He used what he earned from the GI Bill to start a career in acting, the rest would be history. He was Steve McQueen.

The ruggedly handsome American actor was born on March 24, 1930 in Beech Grove, Indiana. He would die from mesothelioma on November 7, 1980. It was a type of cancer often connected to asbestos exposure that took his life. He was 50. His exposure to asbestos was said to be brought by wearing flame-retardant race suits.

Steve McQueen didn’t have it easy growing up. His personal life entailed reckless abandon on his side and other instrumental people around him in his formative years. His father left him and his mother when he was just six months old. His mother sent him to reform school and he felt that it was the same kind of abandonment and he rebelled for a lack of a better word.

The legend of Steve McQueen is characterized by his acting and raw energy he showcased in his films. Notable titles under his belt are “The Great Escape”, “Bullitt” and “The Towering Inferno”. All titles cemented the status of the King of Cool and was considered as one of Hollywood’s greatest leading men in the 1960s and 70s. McQueen was the anti-thesis of the typical Hollywood leading man, he had grit and was a hero on screen but the life he led was far from perfect. He had multiple affairs and was dragged into a life of controversy but the people loved him more than they hated him.

His onscreen persona was never far from his real life exploits. He played hard wrought characters who drove fast cars, shot big guns and lived a fast life. McQueen raced on weekends during his earlier years to save money. During his times as a movie star he raced cars and motorcycles for the heck of it.

The myth and legend of the King of Cool is immortalized in films only he could have done best.

All information and photos used in this article were sourced from History, The Selvedge Yard, Biography, Life, Amazon, The Real Great Escape and First Out Specialty.

Other Steve McQueen related posts:
Steve McQueen, James Garner and James Coburn All Wearing Sunglasses On A Motorbike
Gratuitous Photo: Steve McQueen
Steve McQueen Aims a Gun While Relaxing on a Couch

Like this article? Check out more stories from our Today in History and Throwback Thursday series.

written by cheeo

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This is the original article written in: English. It is also available in: 中文(繁體版) & 中文(繁體版).