10 Things you Did not know about Steve McQueen

Here are ten things you probably didn't know about McQueen courtesy of someone who knew him best: Michael Munn, author of revelatory new biography Steve McQueen: Living On The Edge you can get yours for about $24.00 on Amazon.com.

  • He was a childhood thief

As a boy living in Indianapolis with his mother, who was a prostitute, McQueen stole food and money from houses to keep from going hungry. He also stole hubcaps and sold them on. McQueen then became part of a gang which ran many scams. He told me, "It was like organized crime but on a small scale."

  • He paid for sex... with cake

McQueen lost his virginity at the age of 13 when his gang took him to a local whore, 15-year-old Matilda. Said McQueen, "You didn't pay her with money. You bought her cakes. She was getting fat but at 15 it gave her big tits. The guys chipped in and bought a big iced cake, and she said for that they could all have a turn. I went first. We did it in a disused store room. She never got naked, just dropped her panties, sat on a table and... vavoom! I bought her a lot of cakes after that."

  • He was a hobo

McQueen ran away from home when he was 13 and lived in a hobo camp. "They seemed to look out for each other, and they made me welcome and gave me food and water. They told me every now and then the cops came and ran them in, and then they'd get released and go back to the camp. For kicks they rode the freight trains, or sometimes they'd just simply do that just 'cos they wanted to go somewhere. They never stayed around in one place too long. The camp was somewhere they could stop off at or return to, but mostly they were on the road. A lot of them had lost their jobs and homes and families in the Depression. Now they just liked to live that way. I could have been a hobo too, but I had dreams." His dreams were to be like Humphrey Bogart and James Cagney, his movie idols. "So I stayed a little time with them, and moved on."

  • He did time in solitary for real

McQueen was put in solitary confinement five times during his 14 months at the California Junior Boys Republic at Chino, a home for wayward boys, for making five escape attempts. "I was in the dark, alone, scared. I lay awake all night. Just an old mattress to lie on. No bed, no nothing. The sound of other boys. Some talking low. Some crying. You'd hear some kid whisper, 'Hey buddy, what you done?' I didn't know if they meant me, so I stayed quiet. Just lay there smelling what smelt like cabbages.
"I used those memories when I was in the cooler in The Great Escape. When I went into that cooler for the second time [in the movie] I remembered going back into solitary the second time - and the third time."
  • He was an unarmed robber

McQueen attempted an "armed" robbery at a gas station after leaving Chino - only he didn't actually have a gun. "I filled up the car, then stuck my hand inside my jacket pocket and made it look like I had a gun in there, went inside and told the guy to hand over all the cash. He looked at me, spat out some tobacco, and the next thing he was reaching for a shotgun. I never ran so fast. I heard the blast as I crashed through the door and got to the car. I got that sucker going and drove."

  • He was a real-life hero

McQueen saved a teenage girl from being raped when he was a marine. "I saw these guys hassling a girl. Three of them. They were dragging her down a side street. I had a small handgun on me - we were not supposed to carry weapons but I did sometimes in case of trouble.
"I followed them and they had her on the ground and one was getting on top, and I just boiled up inside and pulled this gun and told them to leave her the hell alone. These guys just freaked when they saw me with this gun, and they cried for their lives - I mean really cried, man. Cowards! I wanted to shoot them then and there. I coulda shot them. I told them to run and don't stop. The girl was on the ground and crying. I put my gun away and went to her and held my hands up -showed her I wasn't going to hurt her. I was like, "Stop cr
ying already, OK? They're gone. You're OK." I didn't know how to deal with a crying girl. I figured she was 14, maybe 15. I took her to her home, and she said, 'If I had a brother I'd want him to be like you.' I made a joke, like, 'You don't want me as a brother 'cos I'm kinda wild.' She said, 'I'd feel safe with a brother like you.'"
  • He was a getaway driver

After he was discharged from the marines, McQueen drove a getaway car for a trio of armed robbers. During one of the hit and runs, one of the gangsters was shot by a storekeeper. Said McQueen, "The blood was pumping out 'cos an artery had been hit. This tough guy was crying for his mother. I was panicking and saying, 'We got to get him to a doctor,' and one said, 'Just keep driving,' and all the time this guy was crying, 'I'm gonna die, oh Mother and Jesus don't let me die.' After a couple of minutes he was very qu iet. I just drove. I thought this wasn't what I thought it would be. I felt sick." The small gang broke up, ending McQueen's career as a wheel man.

  • He was a pimp

McQueen became a pimp for a prostitute called Lindy whose regular pimp had been arrested, and also sold illegal guns. "I thought I was making easy money - guns and Lindy. And no taxes to pay. I mean, man, you can see why people do this for life; they got it made. And you think it's so easy. But it never ends well." He quit pimping when threatened by another pimp, and gave up selling guns when one of his gangster friends told him, "You're not cut out for any of this. You want to be a movie star. So go be one. Pretend you're like us but in the movies. You'll be great at it." McQueen told me, "I knew he was right." So he went to New York to become an actor.

  • He made up with Yul Brynner

It was said that McQueen hated Yul Brynner following a much publicised feud when they were making The Magnificent Seven, but 20 years later when McQueen knew he was dying from cancer, he called Brynner by telephone and told him, "Yul, I want to thank you."
"What did I do?"
"You let me be by your side in The Magnificent Seven, and you coulda had me kicked off when I rattled you, but you let me stay and that picture made me, so thanks."
Brynner told him, "I am the king and you are the rebel prince: every bit as royal... and dangerous to cross."
Steve had liked that, and told me, "I had to make it up with Yul 'cos without him I wouldn't have been in that picture."
  • He predicted his own death

McQueen was convinced he would not live to old age and even predicted the age he would reach. In 1977 he told me, "I'm gonna be dead by 50." It was a prediction he often made, but had nothing to back it up with other than the fact that both his parents would die at the same age. When McQueen died from cancer in 1980, he was 50 years old.

(Source: GQ)