10 fascinating facts about Wanted: Dead or Alive star, Steve McQueen

"The King of Cool" was just that. A really cool cowboy who had a love for adventure... and a need for speed.

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Image credit: The Everett Collection

Steve McQueen is one of the best known and influential actors to date. He is known for his role as Josh Randall in Wanted: Dead or Alive, among many other roles during his successful run in Hollywood. With a total of 94 episodes under his cowboy belt, McQueen left a legacy in the Western world. 

"The King of Cool" had an interesting life filled with success, fast cars, Hollywood neighbors and more. You may know McQueen only through his acting career, but how well do you actually know the legend's life? We are going to take a look back at 10 fascinating facts about Steve McQueen. Which fact surprised you the most? Tell us in the comments below!

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1. A famous drummer who was his neighbor, was also his enemy


Image credit: The Everett Collection

After Steve McQueen had established himself as a movie star, he did what most of the rich and famous do: buy a mansion in California.

And his new nextdoor neighbor? Keith Moon, the drummer of The Who. McQueen became annoyed by the drummer's lifestyle. Moon would leave his bathroom light on, which would shine brightly in McQueen's room. After asking Moon to fix the problem, nothing changed.

So, McQueen did the most Wanted: Dead or Alive thing possible. He grabbed his shotgun, leaned out the window and shot the light out in Moon's house. Problem solved?

2. McQueen had a spooky acting debut


Image credit: The Everett Collection

In 1958, Steve McQueen made his debut as the lead actor in the sci-fi horror film, The Blob. His performance in the film was so impressive that it earned him dozens of offers to appear in other films. 

The Blob's success was a surprise to many. McQueen earned $3,000 for his part in the film. Aneta Corsaut, who later played the role of Helen Crump on The Andy Griffith Show, co-starred alongside McQueen.

3. McQueen was a thrill-seeker on a motorcycle


Image credit: The Everett Collection

Of course "The King of Cool" loved motorcycles. Early in his career, McQueen found a love for Harley-Davidson and Triumph motorcycles. Flash forward to a few years later and McQueen began to travel and compete in motorcycle races.

While shooting for the 1963 film, The Great Escape, McQueen insisted that there would be no stunt double and he would do his own stunts. The biggest stunt of the entire film was a 60 foot jump on a motorcyle. Sadly, in this attempt McQueen crashed and a stunt double was finally allowed. 

McQueen owned over 200 motorcycles.

4. He was in the Marine Corps at the age of 17


Image credit: The Everett Collection

McQueen was 17 when he enlisted in the Marine Corps. Being a Marine helped him learn how to use a variety of weapons that he would later utilize in fight scenes throughout his acting career. During a training exercise, McQueen even saved five Marines from drowning after their ship collided with a sandbank.

He was honorably discharged in 1950.

5. McQueen was trained in Tang Soo Do


Image credit: The Everett Collection

He had a ninth-degree black belt in the martial art, Tang Soo Do. It's a popular belief that he was trained by Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris. However, he learned from Pat E. Johnson, who is famous for his martial arts choreography in films such as Karate Kid and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

McQueen's son was trained in karate by Chuck Norris and Bruce Lee trained him in Jeet Kune Do. McQueen was even one of Lee's pallbearers during his funeral in 1973.

Just another reason we wouldn't want to mess with Steve McQueen!

6. He was a private pilot


Image credit: The Everett Collection

In case you thought McQueen couldn't get more cool, here's more proof. He was issued a private pilot's license by the FAA in 1979 after learning to fly a biplane. 

7. McQueen had a real need for speed


Image credit: The Everett Collection

McQueen really lived life in the fast lane. 

He was known for doing his own high-speed stunts for his films, but he wasn't being reckless. He knew what he was doing.

He competed in various motorsport and car races throughout the '60s and '70s. He even had a car collection.

In 1978, McQueen was inducted into the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame, and was credited in helping get the very first, organized off-road competitions off the ground.

8. He was the highest paid actor in 1974


Image credit: The Everett Collection

In 1974, McQueen became the highest-paid movie star in the world. In the same year, the hit film The Towering Inferno came out. It featured a star-studded cast, which included McQueen in the role of Chief O'Halloran.

9. Something strange happened with Charles Manson


Image credit: Everett Collection

McQueen was almost the victim of one of the most shocking and disturbing crimes of all time. 

In 1969, McQueen was invited over for dinner at the home of Roman Polanski. McQueen was not able to go. That night Charles Manson murdered five people, including Sharon Tate, who originally invited McQueen to dinner.

Later, it was discovered that Steve McQueen's name was at the top of Charles Manson's list of celebrities to murder.

10. He had a celebrity as a bodyguard


Image credit: The Everett Collection

Who better to protect McQueen than B.A. Baracus of The A-Team? We can't think of one. 

Mr. T was a bodyguard in the '70s for many high-profile celebrities. These include: McQueen, Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, Slyvester Stallone and more.

McQueen and Mr. T in the same room would be one scary combo to see coming.

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MichaelPowers 15 months ago
Sadly, Steve had a brutal childhood. His father, "Red" McQueen, left before Steve was born. Father and son would never meet one another. Steve's mom was a party girl and negligent bringing him up, often leaving him with relatives. His stepfather beat him up badly and Steve was on the road by himself at 14 years old. All of this caused him to be highly mistrustful of anyone and he was always on guard around others figuring they had a "scam" in mind. He was a tortured guy with depression and insecurities which fame and fortune did little to quell. This lead to his turning to God in order to find answers and peace.
RicardoShillyShally 18 months ago
It's too bad Steve McQueen wasn't at the Sharon Tate party. He would have beat the crap out of those evil hippies.
BruceBeckwith 18 months ago
No.4 is a rather sanitized version of Mr. McQueen's stint in the USMC. He was conifined to the brig at one point, and it killed him. He along with others, were sent to do maintenance in the boiler room of a Navy ship. There was a great deal of asbestos involved. Mr. McQueen was later diagnosed with and died from mesothelioma, cancer of the lining of the lungs caused by exposure to asbestos.
hinspect BruceBeckwith 18 months ago
According to his first Wife Neile, he wore Asbestos flameproof face coverings while racing and that is believed to be the reason for him breathing Asbestos. It is a good book written by her.
BenSobeleone 18 months ago
Steve Andrews: "Hey! Who's in the store? Huh?
Sgt. Jim Bert: "There's nobody in here but us monsters."
BillO 18 months ago
I had always heard that on his tax returns Steve McQueen listed his occupation as race car driver and acting was a hobby.
shortstuff64 18 months ago
I loved watching Steve McQueen movies. He was exciting to watch. I loved the car chase scene in the movie with his Mustang. He was tops
RLedford 18 months ago
Interesting Facts — Steve McQueen was a real actor - nothing like the wannabes of the current generation ✅🙏
tootsieg 18 months ago
Interesting and fun facts. Wanted Dead or Alive was a hot show back in the day. Steve was the coolest of the cool.
BrittReid 18 months ago
Good story about a cool guy who made great movies. No mention of the car chase in "Bullitt", which was the real deal and the standard of all film chases.
Sway 18 months ago
Interesting, what a fast-paced life, and of course he was married to Ali McGraw for a while.
Runeshaper 18 months ago
Steve McQueen was a super talented and interesting man.
CaptainDunsel 18 months ago
In the spring/summer of 1969, my parents bought a new home in California, and we moved there from Maine in late August. They bought the house from Mike Love (yes, that Mike Love). During Charles Manson's brief 1968 friendship with Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson, he had been an occasional visitor to Love's home. Who knows what would have happened if Manson had chosen a different target location and waited a few weeks? I shudder to think.
Zip 18 months ago
They left off that he became a Christian. Ok, so that might not be a "fascinating fact" to some people, but to me it makes him more than "cool."

Btw, one wonders if Steve had gone to that dinner mentioned in #9, maybe things might have turned out differently that night. Steve McQueen was no slouch.
Adanor Zip 18 months ago
Then again maybe not; all in all, it's a good thing that he did not go to that dinner! And perhaps the Man Upstairs had organized the reason why he was unable to make it.
gockionni Adanor 18 months ago
Amen to that! 🙏🏻
RicardoShillyShally Zip 18 months ago
I'm glad he became a Christian. Thanks for mentioning it.
Zip RicardoShillyShally 17 months ago
Me too. And you're welcome.
cperrynaples 18 months ago
RE 10: Fun Fact: The Bodyguard was originally written for McQueen, but he rejected it! Of course, it was eventually made with Kevin Costner!
cperrynaples cperrynaples 18 months ago
According to IMDB, the reason McQueen didn't do the movie was because Diana Ross would have played Whitney Houston's role and the studios felt uncomfortable about an interational romance!
cperrynaples cperrynaples 18 months ago
Yes, i meant interracial! I wrote that at 5 AM!
cperrynaples 18 months ago
RE 4: I would have thought they would have sent him home! Bonus Question: what MeTV star played a teenage Marine on one show and tried to become one on another? Hint: I'm sure a certain poster knows it already...LOL! Sadly, she proably won't see this post!
CaptainDunsel cperrynaples 18 months ago
Answering bonus question: Ron Howard, on "M*A*S*H" and "Gomer Pyle, USMC", respectively.
Sway cperrynaples 18 months ago
Re: #4, Read that his mother gave permission.
Andybandit 18 months ago
WDOA is one my favorite westerns. His Grandson was on Chicago Fire. He played Jimmy, an EMT. He is Steven R. McQueen.
cperrynaples Andybandit 18 months ago
And point of fact: Neither directed 12 Years A Slave! That was yet another Steve McQueen!
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