American actor Steve McQueen starred in successful 1960s and 1970s films such as "The Magnificent Seven," "The Great Escape," and "The Getaway" before his death from lung cancer in 1980. The Indiana native was one of the most popular film stars of his era, known for his rugged masculinity.
McQueen, whose father abandoned the family when he was a baby, had a strained relationship with his mother, Julian. They moved to Los Angeles following Julian's remarriage when McQueen was 12 years old, and she eventually sent her delinquent son to reform school.
Further neglected by his mother as a teenager, McQueen embarked on a series of unusual jobs, including a carnival worker. He also found employment in a brothel. At age 17, he briefly joined the Merchant Marines and became a tank driver.
In 1952, McQueen began his acting career. He won a scholarship to study at the Uta Hagen-Herbert Berghof School, and later he studied with Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio. His breakthrough film role came in 1958's "The Blob."
McQueen appeared in a succession of notable films throughout the 1960s and 1970s. He developed a passion for race cars and motorcycles. In 1973, he married actress Ali McGraw after co-starring with her in "The Getaway." They divorced five years later.
In 1979, he was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a rare form of lung cancer thought to be a result of McQueen's exposure to asbestos. He married Barbara Minty 10 months before his death, in 1980.