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Steve McQueen: A Biography

3.46  ·  Rating Details ·  243 Ratings  ·  51 Reviews
Steve McQueen is one of America’s legendary movie stars best known for his hugely successful film career in classics such as The Magnificent Seven, The Great Escape, The Thomas Crown Affair, Bullitt, and The Towering Inferno as well as for his turbulent life off-screen and impeccable style. His unforgettable physical beauty, his soft-spoken manner, his tough but tender rou ...more
Hardcover, 338 pages
Published October 25th 2011 by Crown Archetype (first published January 1st 2011)
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Community Reviews

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Nov 29, 2012 Rachel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: firstreads
FULL DISCLAIMER UP FRONT: I won this book through FirstReads.

McQueen is one of my favorite classic actors, and for that reason, this biography really engaged me overall. I was disappointed to read about the depths of his drug use and subsequent treatment of hs first wife, but the egomaniacal behavior is kind of expected in actors of such success back in those days.

I have rated this book only three stars because of the factual details author Eliot gets wrong. He erroneously calls Tom Bosley's ch
Dec 05, 2011 David rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
McQueen wasn't the easiest subject for a biography, hence my two-star rating. Eliot wasn't able to offer much more about his subject than the public already knows; McQueen was a druggie, womanizer, and a generally unpleasant sort who suffered from a bad case of celebrity-itis.

Apr 26, 2012 Stefanie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition

I love Steve McQueen. Yeah, he was a bit of an asshat. But whatever. This author is incredibly boring and seems to despise his subject. If you don't like him, don't write about him.
Tina Foster
Sep 05, 2012 Tina Foster rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Growing up in the 60s and 70s, McQueen was one of my movie idols. He was a forerunner of many movie actions scenes, from the first motorcycle jump over a fence in "The Great Escape," or the first thrilling car chase scene on the streets of San Francisco in "Bullet." After that, almost every movie had to have a bigger chase scene to try and top it.

He really was the "King of Cool." But died so young at the age of 50 from cancer. I enjoyed reading about his life, the gritty, and the not so gritty.
Sep 15, 2015 Candice rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oddly compelling. I couldn't stop reading it. But then, Steve McQueen was a matinee idol of mine of yore, hadn't thought about him much and then saw The Sand Pebbles on TV and was impressed by his acting in that film and rekindled my interest. So glad I wasn't married to him.
Austin Somlo
I don't feel I've learned very much about Steve McQueen in Marc Eliot's biography since I already knew that he was a wife-beater, serial cheater, and dopehead.

However, it's been illuminating to learn about some of the history behind his films. But how disappointing I am is when Marc doesn't bother giving any information about Junior Bonner, the most satisfying Steve McQueen experience of all films (which is a personal favorite of his).

In hindsight, Steve didn't really make many films. The best p
Sep 05, 2014 Amanda rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Steve McQueen was Hollywood’s “King of Cool.” With his starring roles in such classic films as The Great Escape, The Thomas Crown Affair, and Bullitt, he created the persona of a laconic tough guy with a taste for fast cars and beautiful women. Women wanted him and men wanted to be him.

If you want to know more about him than that, I suggest you look somewhere other than Marc Eliot’s Steve McQueen: A Biography.

In this self-proclaimed “revisionist” biography, Eliot spent little time relating his s
Paul Baker
Steve McQueen by Marc Eliot is a spare and generalized biography that focuses on the films made by the iconic actor. While the films are examined in some detail, Eliot spends the rest of his time detailing McQueen's life outside the set.

The actor was a troubled child who was moved around the country and dropped off with various relatives for extensive blocks of time. His father left them when he was still an infant and his mother could not maintain a steady relationship throughout his life. Stev
Nov 08, 2011 Raquel rated it it was amazing
Marc Eliot consistently delivers entertaining and informative biographies. I really loved reading about Steve McQueen. I highly recommend this book to people who are McQueen enthusiasts or are curious about him.

See my full review (including fun trivia facts from the book) on my classic film blog:
Una Murphy
The book was a quick read. Took me just a couple of days. I was a little bored by him as a subject. I didn't know too much about him and never really liked him based on his movies. After reading this book I like him even less. That's kind of sad. No time was spent making me care that he died too soon.
Apr 01, 2012 Tom rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012-books-read
As much as McQueen is revered in popular culture, he was a bastard in real life. Eliot details all the self-centered, narcissistic behavior McQueen focused on at least his first two wives (Neile Adams, Ali McGraw) - maybe he didn't have time with the third one.
Jul 12, 2015 Thordur rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biographies
If you havent seen Steve McQueeen movies there are actual spoilers in this book so I warn you if you intend to read this one.

Its interesting though and casts a pic on this guys life. He is hard to work with, fucks women back and forth even though he is married, is jealous if his wife is seeing somebody else, beats his wifes, drinks and uses drugs. This book tells you all about it. He gets it all and is high speeding in his cars every now and then getting traffick tickets again and again.

Dec 17, 2012 Marta rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
It gave too much info on movie plots. I can watch the movie myself for that, it does not need to be in the biography. I felt that the author was just trying to fill the page.
Nadine Haney
Mar 20, 2012 Nadine Haney rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: didn-t-read
So boring, didn't finish it. The author liked lists. Movie, every actor and what they played in before. S. McQueen might be a good actor, but i didn't like him as a person.
Jun 21, 2016 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Steve McQueen was an actor I enjoyed throughout his career. And this book tells his story, good, bad, and ugly. Sometimes you have certain ways you want to view someone, but that normally isn't reality.
McQueen had a rough beginning, and with hard work and a little luck he became hugely successful. But he didn't always make the right choices, and different times during his life he had to pay the price. Some choices he made also caused people he was close to pay too.
He wasn't perfect, but I st
Mar 18, 2012 David rated it really liked it
I think my first exposure to Steve McQueen's work was in one of my favorite movies as a kid, Papillon. I really enjoyed his performance in this, but sadly, his life was cut short by cancer at a relatively young age. After reading this biography, what I didn't realize is that even if cancer hadn't cut his life short, Steve had really grown tired of the acting game and we maybe wouldn't have seen too many more performances by him. I was also amazed when reading this how many feature films he turne ...more
Mike Mills
Jun 25, 2013 Mike Mills rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bio-reads
This was a straight forward read. It pretty much lays out Steve's life chronologically according to the films that he was working on. He was a product of a broken home, a heavy smoker and drug user, an over sexed womanizer, very competitive, very insecure, a loner, and definitely a rebel. He did not make a lot of films, only 25. Most of the films were very lousy and very self indulgence. He was always looking out for number one, and in the process did not care or was not aware of the path of des ...more
Dec 30, 2015 Ted rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Seems to be a fairly exhaustive, if not terrifically engaging, biography of the actor who defined American cool for many of us who grew up in the 1960's and '70's.

I do find one serious fault. In Chapter 9, the author asserts that Steve McQueen made some contradictory statements voicing support and opposition to U.S. involvement in the war in Southeast Asia. While Eliot provides quotes from McQueen that demonstrate support for the war, he provides no evidence of opposition.
Feb 17, 2014 Terry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Wanted,Dead or Alive was one of my favorite Westerns growing up in the 50-60's. Never knew he learned that oh-so-quick draw from Sammy Davis Jr. of all people. Very tragic but I'm still jealous.Mamie Van Doren, Jacqueline Bisset, etc.?.

Do an Google Image search if the names aren't familiar.

Overall,an excellent biography.
Jun 03, 2014 Tom rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my inspirations, before I read this book. Now, although wonderfully written, I wish I'd not read it.
On second thought, I'm glad I did. He was much more and much less then my imagination. Hero's, though necessary, are just as flawed as all of us. Sometimes even more so.
Steve McQueen was an easy guy to like on the big screen but hard to like in real life. The author doesn't seem to be a fan of McQueen's and I wasn't a fan of his style of writing. Other reviewers have questioned some of the author's facts. For me the most glaring problem was in the part about The Great Escape. Eliot writes "During his more than two year confinement, Brickhill (the book's author) took part in the planning and execution of a massive escape plan. Out of the seventy-six soldiers who ...more
Raimo Wirkkala
May 09, 2014 Raimo Wirkkala rated it liked it
An enjoyable-to-read biography of a true movie-star. Eliot deals unsparingly with the uglier aspects of McQueen's life and provides much in the way of interesting behind-the-scenes stories. Eliot does, however, commit some factual errors in details regarding several of McQueen's films and this gives one pause to wonder what else he might have gotten wrong.
Apr 06, 2016 Nola rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Upon reading Neile Adams' book on Steve McQueen I thought I'd read this one to compare ie truths, Marc Eliot confirms that Neile Adams' book was the truth, he verifies what Neile has told us. He also goes into more details about what went wrong behind some of the deals. Steve McQueen definitely owes a lot to Neile Adams, even after they were divorced she was reviewing any possible film roles and advising Steve. He left Neile a miserly $1m, Ali McGraw nil and his third wife, Barbara Minty who he ...more
Karen Roth
Jan 11, 2016 Karen Roth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sadly I lost my respect for Steve as a person after reading this book, but I shalt stomp on his grave and I enjoy much of his body of work although never looked at him as one of the greats.
May 29, 2016 Liz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book really kept my interest. I already knew that Steve McQueen could be a prima donna to work with, so a 'warts and all' bio doesn't bother me. His early history was interesting and does much to explain the man he became.
Jeanine Kirkpatrick
Great book!!

Good read for a Baby Boomer like me. I still watch him on ME TV every Saturday afternoon.
Thank you.

Sep 15, 2015 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very in depth look behind the movie screen persona. Very well researched and written, it tells the story of Steve McQueen that you won't get from watching his movies.
Dustin Tilley
Apr 01, 2014 Dustin Tilley rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This would be a good book if you are in steve mcqueen. But if you aren't into him I wouldn't read this book.
Jim Cullison
A serviceable, fast-paced biography of the meteoric screen presence that was Steve McQueen.
May 28, 2015 Marvin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A difficult read. I felt the author was a little judgemental in describing McQueen. It seemed like a "poor boy makes good but keeps thumbing his nose" sort of attitude. I believe McQueen was like alot of movie stars, full of himself and very little room for others. But it is what they are, you except that and move on. As with other bio's about bigger than life characters, I end up feeling sorry for the guy or gal because they have a extremely skewed view of life and relationships. All in all thi ...more
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