Born to an alcoholic mother and abandoned by his father, McQueen overcame early beginnings as a petty criminal to become a race-car driver, actor and father to two children. McQueen never lost his adventurous streak, often performing his own action stunts in his films. Of his past, McQueen once said, "If I hadn't made it as an actor, I might have wound up a hood."
While McQueen died in 1980, he is more popular than ever, inspiring cars, motorcycles, books, movies, designer clothing and a whole new generation of fans.
The successful coffee table book "McQueen's Machines," which chronicles McQueen's love for cars and motorcycles, and his private collections of both, is being developed into a television special targeted for release next year.
To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the "Bullitt" film, last year Ford released a new Mustang Bullitt to pay homage to one of McQueen's biggest starring roles. Meanwhile, Metisse has introduced a limited-edition Desert Racer motorcycle, a replica of the bike owned and used by Steve McQueen for competitive racing, faithfully reproduced by hand and authorized by the McQueen estate.
The desire among his legions of fans for all things McQueen reached new heights recently as his Ferrari sold at auction for a whopping $1.6 million. TAG Heuer, Ballentine's and Dolce & Gabbana have all made lucrative forays into high fashion with McQueen branded products.
"McQueen is a legend that many of today's celebrities would love to emulate, but few do," said Diana Brobmann, an expert at a celebrity branding and licensing firm called GreenLight. "He has an enduring appeal and symbolizes masculinity, adventure and pure guts."
For additional information about Steve McQueen, visit his official Web site at www.stevemcqueen.com.