Steve McQueen was one of the most popular and first truly iconic movie stars of the 60s. Born in 1930, McQueen's youth was not easy. Coming from a broken home, he graduated from reform school, and spent time as a drifter as well as a US Marine. In 1955, he found some focus in his life, by auditioning, along with 2000 other hopefuls, for entry into Lee Strasberg's New York Actors' Studio - only he and Martin Landau were accepted.
Here, his true vocation started to come to fruition, and drawing on what he learnt, as well as his own life experiences, he achieved a successful Broadway debut in "A Hatful of Rain". He broke into films doing bit parts, followed in 1956, by a leading role in "The Blob", a film now considered a cult classic.
In 1960, McQueen appeared as one of the hired guns in "The Magnificent Seven", a now well-loved classic western. He went on to make numerous films in the early 60's but it was not until his part as a daring prisoner of war in "The Great Escape" (1963) that he made a real impression on moviegoers. This was followed by a string of successes, including "The Sand Pebbles" in 1966, a role for which he was Oscar-nominated.
It was however, a love of action, and stunts, that led to possibly his most popular film - "Bullitt" - featuring the notorious car chase though San Francisco. Made in 1968, he was paid a cool $1,000,000 dollars for this role. When he died in 1980, from cancer, Hollywood lost a true movie star - he had achieved cult status, and will always be thought of as the definition of 'cool'.