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Steve McQueen: an infinite influencer

Steve McQueen was a megastar who starred in Bullitt, The Great Escape and The Getaway - he was the 'king of cool' with enviable motorbike and racecar driving skills. Leading figures discuss his influence...

Steve McQueen went from being a troubled teen to the world’s most loved actor of the 1960s. He starred in a number of iconic films such as Le Mans and Papillon and stood out for natural performances in action films. And he is a 1960s' style icon.

McQueen epitomised fashion in the 1950s and 1960s – the golden age of men’s style.  He set trends and pulled off every and any style – nearly 60 years on it's a look that hasn’t dated. Whether he was dressed for off-duty, sport or work, he looked effortlessly cool. Men wanted to imitate him – and still do.

McQueen rose from a troubled childhood spent in reform schools to one of the world’s most popular actors. His raw talent was discovered in the late 1950s and he drew on that life experience to move people. He went on to star in a number of hit films spanning several genres from sci-fi to horror to action. His most defining on-screen moments combined his two passions: racing and acting, which he did as Bullitt in 1968 – which made history with one of the all-time best car chase scenes – and Michael DeLaney in Le Mans in 1971.

McQueen was a man of the people, an American icon who once said: "I live for myself and I answer to nobody."

These attributes made McQueen special among film audiences and within Hollywood itself. He earned him not one but two nicknames: the anti-hero and the ‘king of cool’. So what made Steve McQueen so cool – and remain a style, film and racing hero over 30 years since his death?

In this third instalment of a five-part series on infinite influencers, Campaign talks to advertising execs to uncover the secret of McQueen's resonance decades after his death.

Visit Greenlight's website to learn more about Steve McQueen and how you could associate your brand with his iconic status.