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Steve McQueen: A Biography

3.38 of 5 stars 3.38  ·  rating details  ·  175 ratings  ·  37 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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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
Tina Foster
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.
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.

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
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.
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.

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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
Dustin Tilley
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.
I chose this book from the new releases section at the library only because there was nothing else of interest, and I'm glad I did. I love the way this author writes, he has an ease and style that brings the reader along - no having to re-read complicated sentences to get their meaning. I also like the way he handled facts in a non-judgmental way; he told the story but didn't offer his own opinion and in doing so, I think he presented his subject in as realistic a light as is possible. Too bad M ...more
Mark Widman
Pretty much just a history of films and people involved in the films of Steve McQueen. What did I learn, that Steve was a deva. He fell into acting and did not care who he stepped on or hurt. His first wife is a saint for putting up with him for so long.
Like reading the Natl Enquirer
Greg Judy
This was a very entertaining read. Eliot does a great job of covering practically every detail of McQueen's life. Steve McQueen has always been my favorite actor and somewhat of a hero of mine. But after reading this biography, in which Eliot describes in detail McQueen's drug abuse, womanizing/adultery, and turbulence on his movie sets, my perspective has slightly changed. Only a great author and book can cause one to change their opinion in that manner.
Brian Daniel
Very good in a consumptive way. I picked it up in an airport out of curiosity and finished it for the most part within a week. In some ways McQueen sums up the 1970s for us. At the very least this book gives us a fair and interesting biography of a Hollywood icon. It' well-written but what I found myself enjoying most were the many places McQueen intersected with other aspects of Hollywood from Paul Newman to Ali McGraw to Charles Manson.
David Ross
I grew up watching Steve McQueen on TV and in the movies during the 1960's and 70's.........he was a bona fide movie star that made enjoyable pictures. This book tells the fascinating story of his life. It was a page turner for me.......I read it from cover to cover in less than two days.......very enjoyable book !
Just finished listening to this book. It was very insightful. When it started, I couldn't wait to learn more. As it continued on, I hoped it would speed up. If I were a bigger McQueen fan, I'd probably love this book. It was good and well written, but I am not the target audience.
Stacy Bearse
Disappointing. Very little original reporting. Lots of facts compiled from many sources, some accurate, others less so. I didn't enjoy the author's style, or his penchant for titillating innuendo. McQueen led an imperfect life, but his memory doesn't merit this sub-par effort.
I enjoyed this detailed look at McQueen's professional and private life. He used his charisma and charm to great advantage both on and off screen, but he was a stinker. A complex, gorgeous man with low self esteem is a dangerous combination. Very entertaining.
Not my favorite, but I think perhaps it was because I didn't live through his era, and didn't respond to any of the name dropping. Reading what a womanizing diva he was is disappointing, but what a presence he must have been to be able to keep making movies!
Andy Barnard
I thought this book talked too much about one part of steve mcqueens acting travels. He was a car guy which is what most people identify him with as an actor so I found it a little boring that Marc Eliot only mentioned cars a little bit.
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