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Steve McQueen: Mr. Cool

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Old 11-08-2006, 08:21 AM
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Default Steve McQueen: Mr. Cool

LOS ANGELES (AFP) -- The baseball glove and motorbike from "The Great Escape" aren't on sale, but more than 200 items belonging to late "King of Cool" Steve McQueen will go under the hammer here Saturday.

Dozens of vintage motorbikes, sunglasses and other memorabilia belonging to the late Hollywood legend are being put up for auction by his widow Barbara Minty-McQueen in a sale that has excited buyers around the world.

"I've owned them for more than 25 years, since 1980, and it's time to clean," Minty-McQueen told AFP.

"It hurts my feelings, but I've been able to enjoy them for a long time, and it will be nice for other people to have a piece of Steve, look at them and remember him everyday."

Among the lots up for for auction are a pair of foldable 1960s sunglasses worn by McQueen in "The Thomas Crown Affair" and a vintage Harley-Davidson sweater, mounted in a frame, expected to fetch $3,000 to $5,000.

As an actor, McQueen really was Mr. Cool. His performances in Hell Is For Heroes, The War Lover, Love With The Proper Stranger, Bullit and Papillion were the essence of cool.

But after reading a lot of biographical information about him, I've come to the conclusion that McQueen wasn't a happy camper in his personal life. He started out as a juvenile deliquent, which is no surprise, but he got caught way too often -- as if he was yielding to some self-destructive impulse to get punished. He was doomed by a shipyard job he took before he got into acting and died 30 years later from cancer caused by the asbestos he had inhaled. He was already middle-aged by the time the youth revolution of the 1960s and 70s happened and he regretted that very much. He was married when he wanted to be a playboy.

Being a movie star has an unhealthy effect on many actors. McQueen's co-star in Love With The Proper Stranger, Natalie Wood, was the hottest actress in Hollywood after winning an Academy Award when she tried to commit suicide. She later died in a stupid and careless boating accident.

French actress Capucine jumped out of her fifth-floor hotel room when she failed to get a film role she wanted. At the time she was still popular and would have gotten other good roles if she hadn't killed herself.

Film acting is a strange profession. It's a combination of monumental ego, which is necessary to get in front of a camera day after day, and the vulnerable but contradictory need for approval from others. Many male actors consider it a rather unmanly way to make a living. I think McQueen was one of them, as good as he was at it.

"The earth was made round so we can't see too far down the road and know what is coming." -- Isak Dinesen, Out of Africa
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