McQueen was abandoned by his father in early Indiana boyhood and sent to a reform school in L.A. by his mother at 14. He joined the Marines as a 17-year-old in 1947. By the time he enrolled in the Actors Studio in 1952 and went to Broadway in “A Hatful of Rain,” life had no more curves to throw him.
He stayed unthrown, fundamentally grounded in sensitive movies like “The Sand Pebbles” and “Soldier in the Rain,” and even when soaring in vehicular liftoffs like “The Great Escape” and “Bullitt.”
No threat — physical, emotional or sexual — ever cast a shadow of doubt into his defiant blue eyes or wiped away his knowing smile. The King of Cool, he had the most economical, diamond-hard, all-of-a-piece style of any actor of his generation.
McQueen lost his battle with cancer in 1980.