The Unknown Story of The King of Cool: Steve McQueen

A Child of the Great Depression

Terrence Stephen McQueen was born on March 24th, 1930, in Beech Grove, Indiana. McQueen came from Scottish descent and was raised Roman Catholic. His father was a stunt pilot for a barnstorming flying circus (of all things) and left McQueen’s mother six months after meeting her. According to several biographers, his mother was an alcoholic and a teenage prostitute.


Crahan Denton, Steve McQueen, The Great St Louis Bank Robbery – 1959. Photo By United Artists/Kobal/Shutterstock

Unable to cope with taking care of a small child, she left McQueen with her parents in Slater, Missouri, in 1933, just as the Great Depression was setting in. McQueen recalled good memories of living on that farm, saying how his great-uncle Claude “was a very good man, very strong, very fair. I learned a lot from him.” He can thank Claude for sparking in him an early interest in racing as he gave McQueen a red tricycle on his fourth birthday.

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