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Steve McQueen: A Biography

3.49  ·  Rating details ·  350 ratings  ·  65 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
Paperback, 384 pages
Published October 2nd 2012 by Three Rivers Press (first published January 1st 2011)
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Joan This was one of the worst books I have ever finished. I usually don't finish one this poorly written, but I kept hoping it was going to get better. It…moreThis was one of the worst books I have ever finished. I usually don't finish one this poorly written, but I kept hoping it was going to get better. It tells very little about the man, except for each movie he was an asshole making.
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3.49  · 
Rating details
 ·  350 ratings  ·  65 reviews

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Nov 14, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Tina Foster
Sep 05, 2012 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.
Dec 05, 2011 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 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.
Apr 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: autobiography
I especially liked the fact that you know nothing was omitted describing his sad life. It tells every detail from baby on and all the sadness & pain he had to endure when so young. In spite of the lack of love, an alcoholic prostitute of a mother, a father who deserted them when Steve was just a baby, on the streets trying to find food as a young boy & so much distrust with other people he worked his art to become the top wanted actor & was keenly aware of what was good & what wa ...more
Apr 01, 2012 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.
Apr 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Very enjoyable
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.
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:
Sep 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
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.
Michael Walker
Jul 24, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: biography
Unflattering look at an egotistical, narcissistic, demanding superstar American actor addled by marital infidelities, drugs, and alcohol, fueled (but not excused) by an unhappy childhood.
Dec 12, 2012 rated it it was ok
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 19, 2012 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.
Bruce Perry
Jun 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book is as much filmography as biography. I took great pleasure in watching a few Steve McQueen movies, including Bullitt and The Getaway, while I was reading this book, and I loved finding out the details of how the films were made and the circumstances behind them, such as McQueen timing his sprint beneath the airliner during the final chase scene (no stunt man). He emerged from this feat with a big smile on his face, "I love this job!" Beginning with The Great Escape, he was a kind of Go ...more
Noel Burke
Nov 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
I reviewed two biographies of Steve McQueen back to back. First, the one by Marc Eliot and the second Greg Laurie's The Salvation of an American Icon. Both had similar facts about his life but both took very different paths and highlighted very different data points. Eliot's book was primarily focused on the secular facts of Steve McQueen's life. For example, when recounting the success or failure of a movie, many facts were given about the gross earnings of that movie and the relationships betw ...more
Jeaninne Escallier Kato
I had a poster in my room of Steve McQueen on his motorcycle from the movie "The Great Escape." He was my childhood crush. Everything I ever thought of him was literally crushed after reading this nicely flowing biography by Marc Eliot. It's funny how that old adage of meeting your heroes is not always advisable because they rarely live up to your imagination fits so well in this instance. After reading Steve's story, I mainly felt sorry, disappointed and embarrassed for him. Of course, he didn' ...more
Jun 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well written it kept my interest throughout. I was unaware of the heavy drug use he engaged in & that brings him down a bit in my mind but we all are not perfect. His complete lack of loyalty to his wife's was also disturbing to me. Guess I'm just old school. The back stories of why he did or didn't take films was quite informative as was the fact that he was a total method actor. All in all I enjoyed the book and recommend it as good over view of his life both professionally & privately ...more
Mark "Lefty" Holencik
Sep 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Revealing story of his life. Shows what people put up with because Steve make them money. Tells how his childhood formed his narrsistic behavior and how he never grew out of it. Spent his life stamping his feet when he did not get his way. In spite of himself, we got to see the finished classic movies he made.
Harriett Milnes
Interesting book about my teenage heartthrob. The author totally fills in all the details about the making of each film. Sidelight: Steve McQueen ALMOST went to Sharon Tate's party the night the Manson family came!
Steve Brooks
Oct 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
No surprise, McQueen led a life of decadence and womanizing. The author left no stone unturned in this autobiography. This book did not disappoint, unless you are a huge fan of McQueen....and I use to be. Sad.
Jeffrey Powanda
Apr 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Solid bio of an insecure movie star. See my full review here:
Dan Schumacher
Ok book.

The The book was not so bad. I wish they would’ve went more into his motorcycle racing stories. But still worth reading.
sheri l rogers
McQueen fan

While the book provides great detail I found it a long and tough read. I wanted to fast forward but had to plow through the details.
Mark Bunch
Jun 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A must read for Steve McQueen fans. this fact filled jewel traces his career from start to finish and fueled my interest in movie bio-.
Paul Baker
May 07, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Sep 05, 2014 rated it did not like it
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
Feb 17, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
James Carter
Aug 07, 2016 rated it liked it
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
Mike Mills
Apr 30, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Jul 06, 2015 rated it liked it
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.

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