The supercool image was everything. Clean-cut with cropped blonde hair and startling blue eyes he was the ultimate movie macho man. Steve McQueen was always quick on the draw --he could steal a scene or a girl before anyone else could conjure an opening gambit.
He was 'The Cincinnati Kid' seducing Tuesday Weld and Ann-Margaret and looking pleased with himself with that big grin. And the motorbike ace outwitting the Nazis in 'The Great Escape'. He was the detective Jackie Bisset couldn't say no to in 'Bullitt'. The ultra-smooth high-roller who put sex into chess slyly manipulating Faye Dunaway in 'The Thomas Crown Affair'.The star who stole and married his 'The Getaway' screen lover Ali MacGraw.
McQueen who died in 1980 was the Magnificent One. Now, in a celluloid reincarnation created around a film he made three decades ago, he is once again a multi-million dollar leading man. McQueen's estate was enormously rewarded -- paid the millions his asking price would be today -- for him to 'star' in television commercials for the new Ford Puma. With computer trickery and sequences taken from his classic 1968 movie 'Bullitt' the high-tech advertisements convincingly show a 37-year-old McQueen driving the streets of San Francisco in the 1997 Puma.
The car company wanted 'gritty integrity' to be associated with and reflect their product. McQueen provided that. The cool wasn't extra. Just part of the the package.
Any dollar concerns would have been dismissed by social and media surveys from the past decade which reveal the McQueen image has grown greater with the years. Worldwide his image is supremely bankable. His mystique is now priceless.
He's regularly voted number one of the world's women's all-time top hundred favourite fantasies. After a tragic battle against cancer McQueen died, at 50, in 1980. He dealt with it with dignity and he remains, like James Dean and Marilyn Monroe and Bogart, a cult figure. And a controversial one. Not only the good die young.
He was always a bad boy in Hollywood -- there were rumours of black magic and Satanic parties -- but there many are bemused by McQueen's constant rating as the ultimate female fantasy because of persistent gossip that he was a homosexual.
McQueen was a mystery man of the movies. He was reclusive and he was difficult. For years stories were told of his repressed homosexuality. And it just made him more of man's man.
He became a compulsive womaniser and lost his first wife, the dancer Neile McQueen, because of it. She says he slept with all but two of his female co-stars who included Natalie Wood, Suzanne Pleshette, Candice Bergen,Linda Evans and Britain 's Shirley Ann Field.
McQueen's great friend in Hollywood was Elmer Valentine who owned nightclubs on Sunset Boulevard including 'The Roxy' where McQueen's bad boy replacements like Jack Nicholson,Warren Beatty and pre-Madonna Sean Penn would live their Lothario lives throughout the 1980s.