Steve McQueen on location in Bavaria for his role as Captain Virgil Hilts in "The Great Escape," 1963 (Getty Images / Hulton Archive / Silver Screen Collection)
While Steve McQueen lived, he was one of America's favorite anti-heroes. The actor and daredevil brought us some of our favorite on-screen car chases, performing his own stunts whenever possible. And his devil-may-care personality – which led him to quit acting at the height of his popularity in favor of racing motorcycles – sealed the deal. He was one of the coolest guys around.
McQueen was born March 24, 2012, 82 years ago today. He died of cancer Nov. 7, 1980, at age 50. But even though he's been gone for more than 30 years, Steve McQueen is still cool – and he's still a big part of our pop culture. In honor of his birthday, we're looking at the ways his image and his work continue to be used in fresh, new ways.
Tributes to Steve McQueen
Sheryl Crow is one of several musicians who have written songs (or even released entire albums) named "Steve McQueen." Her 2002 single is probably the best-known of the lot, and the laid-back tempo, combined with driving vocals and guitars, certainly captures the essence of McQueen's style. The video does it even better, with Crow recreating scenes from McQueen movies and reveling in the daredevilry that made McQueen great. For more musical tributes to McQueen, check out songs named "Steve McQueen" by M83 (2011), The Automatic (2008), and Lambchop (2004), or "You and Steve McQueen" by The Audreys (2005).
A New Glimpse of Steve McQueen
In 2005, fans were shocked and delighted to see Steve McQueen alive on their TV screens, selling Ford Mustangs in a fun spot inspired by Field of Dreams. Ford didn't raise the dead for their commercial – they employed a bit of movie magic instead, using a body double and digital editing of old clips. The result was, much like McQueen himself, pretty darn cool.
A New Steve McQueen Project
Could there be more from Steve McQueen on the horizon, decades after his death? It looks like it, though he won't star in it like he did in the Ford commercial. Yucatan, a film based on McQueen's unfinished storyboards and notes, is rumored to be in development, with a tentative release date of 2013. The rumor has been floating around for several years now, so it's hard to say if, much less when, the movie will hit the big screen. But it's been compared to a few great McQueen films – among them, Bullitt and Papillon. If it lives up to those classics, it should be worth the wait. All it will lack is Steve McQueen himself as the star.
Written by Linnea Crowther