Here’s why Steve McQueen Felt a Rivalry with Paul Newman

Steve McQueen didn’t just appear on the silver screen out of thin air. It took a lot for him to find his success in the entertainment industry. The legend had a rough time growing up, and even when he reached stardom, he had some dark secrets and past troubles.
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While not necessarily an angel, Paul Newman seemed to make it in Tinsel Town easier than McQueen. But that’s not the only reason he felt this rivalry with another star of his time.

He Once Joined a Gang

A born Hoosier, McQueen spent his early days in Beech Grove, Indiana, where he joined a (youth) street gang to escape an even worse life at home.

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The actor eventually made it big in Hollywood but getting there wasn’t an easy road for him as he had it pretty tough growing up.

He Was Sent Away to a Facility for Troubled Youth

McQueen got in so much trouble in his younger days that he earned himself the nickname “Wild Kid.” At the tender age of 12, he was roaming the streets, getting into all kinds of mischief. Finally, his mother had him hauled off to reform school in an effort to straighten out his behavior.

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Later, he would reveal that he felt the staff at the Boys Republic in Chino Hills, California, helped him do just that.

Took on a Series of Odd Jobs

Like many actors, Steve McQueen had to work a ton of odd jobs during his early days as an actor to support himself while he tried to make it in the industry. One such job was as a carnival barker, where he would try and attract more paying patrons into the show.

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He took on other jobs when he was younger, including working as a lumberjack and even changing out towels in a brothel!

His First Major Role was on TV

Although McQueen took over the big screen after he’d found his fame, his first major role was actually on a TV series called “Wanted Dead or Alive.” On the show, he played a bounty hunter named Josh Randall, which led to him scoring starring film roles.

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The show aired from 1958-1961 and was the only one the actor ever appeared in.

He Almost Played in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”

“Breakfast at Tiffany’s” became one of the biggest films of its time – and Steve McQueen was offered to play the role of Paul Varjak. Unfortunately for him, his TV show’s contract had him locked in, and he was unable to accept.

 

The role went to George Peppard, and the film was an instant masterpiece.

He Had a Steamy Affair with Mamie Van Doren

When McQueen hooked up with actress Mamie Van Doren in 1959, both of them were still married to other people. Steve was with his wife, Neile Adams, and Van Doren was married to bandleader Ray Anthony.

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McQueen wasn’t the only one the actress was seeing behind her husband’s back, as he’d gotten wind he was also competing with Howard Hughes, but that came to an end as soon as Steve told him he was going to break his nose if it didn’t!

Ali MacGraw

Mamie Van Doren wasn’t the only attached young lady that the actor started up a side fling with. During the 1970s, he started seeing another actress, Ali MacGraw. At the time, MacGraw was still married to producer Robert Evans.

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The two hit it off so deeply that she wound up, leaving her husband to start a new life with Steve – a decision she would soon come to regret.

Shut Out of a Chance at the Oscar

After MacGraw left Robert Evans to get with Steve McQueen, he should have been up for the Academy Award for Best Actor for 1973’s “Papillon.” It was widely regarded that he should’ve taken home the Oscar since his performance in the film was incredible.

 

However, since Evans had a lot of pull in Hollywood, many speculated that he prevented the actor from being included on the award’s roster since he was angry about him stealing his wife.

Damian Lewis portrays him

“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” tells the tale of the drama that went down behind-the-scenes in Los Angeles in the 1960s and stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Margot Robbie, and Brad Pitt.

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At one point, Damian Lewis pops up on the screen as – you guessed it – McQueen portrayed at the height of his career.

An Odd List of Demands

While it’s not unusual for stars to request some odd things on set, it is a bit more unusual for them to do so to donate the items. McQueen used to request loads of razors, jeans, and other things, before agreeing to work on a film.

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After he obtained his list of demands, he’d donate all of the items to the Boys Republic school in Chino Hills.

Dreaming up The Bodyguard

Believe it or not, the 1992 film, “The Bodyguard,” was initially written for Steve McQueen and Diana Ross, after McQueen had an idea that sparked the script written by Lawrence Kasdan.

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Ultimately, Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston, who made her acting debut on the project.

Never Won an Oscar

While many agree that McQueen was snubbed out of his chance at the Oscar in ’73 because of the whole tangled affair with Ali MacGraw, that still doesn’t explain the rest of the years he went without one.

 

In fact, he was only ever nominated for a single Academy Award, in 1967, for his work in The Sand Pebbles.

His Grandson is Following in His Footsteps

Steven R. McQueen, the Hollywood legend’s grandson, made his acting debut on TV in 2005 on an episode of “Threshold.”

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Afterward, he went on to appear in a number of other television shows, including “The Vampire Diaries,” and most recently, “Medal of Honor” in 2018.

Motorcycle Scenes Were an Afterthought

McQueen did (most of) his own motorcycle stunts in “The Great Escape” – at his own request. The actor wanted to show off his skills and demanded the scenes be included.

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He got his way, except for the jump scene, which insurers wouldn’t allow him to perform himself, and insisted he had a stunt double perform the dangerous moves.

Motorcycle Enthusiast

It’s no wonder he’d developed some serious skills on a motorcycle, considering he had a collection of over 200 of them. He once said that “In bike racing, I like to specialize; I prefer rough-country riding, the long-distance kind of thing.

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With a cycle, you’re dealing with the natural terrain. I like being out there in the desert on a set of wheels and just reading the earth. You really feel alive out there.”

He Said No to Sequels

McQueen starred in the 1960’s Western hit, “The Magnificent Seven,” which garnered so much attention that it prompted sequels.

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But, upon reading the script, he decided that it would be a better idea for him to turn down the role – and that’s what he did.

He Had a Hollywood Rival

In McQueen’s mind, he and fellow actor Paul Newman were rivals. Perhaps it was the fact that Newman landed similar roles, and he saw him as serious competition, or it could’ve been that Newman started to see some success in racing, which intimidated him.

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When the two ended up co-starring in “The Towering Inferno,” McQueen demanded they have an equal amount of lines, though Newman initially had more.

Diagnosed

In 1979, the actor was diagnosed with Mesothelioma, which is a form of lung cancer that’s often linked to exposure to asbestos. That same year was when he filmed his last movie, “The Hunter.”

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One day on set, he was found out of breath, and it only got worse from there.

Death and Controversy

McQueen traveled to Mexico in 1980 in a last-ditch attempt to beat cancer. The procedure was controversial, and the doctor in Juarez even warned the actor not to do it. The surgery was an attempt to remove multiple large tumors from his body.

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But, as the doctor told him would happen, he ended up dying during the procedure. He was 50-years old at the time.

The One-Sided Rivalry

According to several reports about how the men behaved when the cameras were turned off, Paul Newman was much different from Steve McQueen. While there were many negative stories about the way, McQueen treated his partners in relationships.

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Newman was painted in an entirely different light, and he didn’t feel the jealousy over his fellow actor in the same way Steve felt about him.

The Perfect Relationship

Newman and actress Joanne Woodward were Hollywood’s golden couple. They were deeply in love, and it showed.

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Newman was once quoted about how he stayed true to his wife for so long. “Why go eat out for a hamburger when you have steak at home?”

The Meet-Cute

A meet-cute is something that happens at the beginning of any adorable romantic relationship when two people just stumble into a situation that forces them into meeting one another.

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That’s exactly what happened to Newman and Woodward when they first met in a chance encounter.

On the Rise

Like many actors of his time, Newman served in the Navy during WWII in the Pacific theater. After the war was over, he got a BA in Drama and Economics and then studied at Yale’s School of Drama before heading out to try his hand at scoring jobs in Tinsel Town.

 

Initially, it didn’t go so well, but things would soon turn around.

Acting with his future wife

Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward first laid eyes upon each other when they were cast as co-stars in “Picnic,” a romantic drama on Broadway.

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The actress worked as an understudy to the female lead, while Newman played a supporting role.

A Hot Day

The fates simply had it in store for Newman and Woodward to meet – and even the weather played a role in the encounter. It was a hot day in NYC and onset, and two both snuck into the manager’s office to take advantage of the air conditioning.

 

Little did they know that meeting would lead to the next 50 years of their lives.

Made to Be an Actor

Paul Newman was destined to be an actor. Even his future wife could tell, saying that he’s so perfect, it’s “disgusting.”

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Still, like most women in America at the time, she couldn’t help but fall for his charm.

The Same Old Tale

The actress wasn’t immune to Wzoodward’s charms and good looks, either, which wasn’t good news for his wife at the time, Jackie Witte.

 

Still, Newman remained faithful to her, despite feeling himself developing feelings for his newfound friend.

His First Wife

Jackie Witte and Paul Newman had been married since 1949, and they were still very much together when the actor met his future (second), wife. The actor refused to venture outside his marriage, and the co-stars simply remained friends throughout their first project.

 

Things were definitely about to change for everyone involved.

Heading for Splitsville

While the two good-looking entertainers may have kept their wits about them throughout their play, they wouldn’t be able to contain their feelings forever. Eventually, they became so strong that Newman knew he had to do something.

 

It was then that he started thinking about his future and who would be a part of it.

Getting Hotter

In 1957, the two stars were destined to come together again when they were cast as opposites, Clara and Ben in “A Long, Hot Summer.” The film tells the tale of two young lovers on their journey to falling for one another – and the actors were having a tough time differentiating their real lives from that of their characters’.

 

It wasn’t long before those on-screen feelings turned into reality.

Falling

It started to become clear to everyone on set that there was more than just a script that brought these two together. The feelings they were portraying seeped into their personal lives, and they knew that they wanted to be together.

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Unfortunately, Newman was still married…with children.

Making His Move

Those who were on set weren’t the only ones who started to notice a change happening within Paul. His wife could tell that something was going on, too, which he confirmed when he told her he wanted a divorce.

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Despite the fact they had three children together at the time, she agreed, and they started the process.

Getting Remarried

It was only a year after the stars got together after working on the first film that they decided to tie the knot. Newman and Woodward got married in January of 1958 in Las Vegas.

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After the ceremony, they headed to London to honeymoon at the Connaught Hotel.

On-Screen and Off

It was clear to everyone that these two stars belonged together and that they made excellent partners whether they were on-screen or off.

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They were cast together in several productions, and Paul even directed his wife, as he did in 1968’s “Rachel,” which got her nominated for an impressive three Academy Awards.

Superstar Status

By the mid-1960s, the two had made things official, and they were both enjoying their new marriage and loads of success in Tinsel Town.

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Newman had reached superstar status and was getting offer after offer and award after award. In that decade alone, he’d find himself nominated for a number of Oscars.

Blending family

The stars were very busy, both with their careers and their family. Of course, Paul already had three children with his first wife, who he’d still felt a bit of guilt for leaving behind. But he was also eager to start a new family with Joanne.

 

The two had three daughters by 1965, and who knew what the future would hold.

Made for Each Other

The couple absolutely adored each other, and they just couldn’t get enough of one another. Reports of the two together in public always consisted of dreamy eyes and touches from both Newman and Woodward.

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They were deeply in love, though not every moment of their 50 years was wedded bliss.

Making it Work

Despite going through some rumored rough patches, the stars were married for five decades and had four children together. But as tough as Hollywood can be on relationships, how on earth did the pair manage to make things work for so long?

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They’ve both commented on the matter on a few occasions.

Sticking Together

When Paul and Joanne first tied the knot, no one really expected it to last, but they were in for a big surprise. Their marriage and careers thrived, and they both brought out the best in each other.

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The couple starred in a number of films together, including the 1960’s “From the Terrace” and 1963’s “A New Kind of Love.”

Lots of Laughs

Sure, they were an attractive couple, there was no doubt about it, but according to Joanne, that’s not the reason they stuck it out for so long. He made her laugh, “laugh every day,” which is something that’s pretty rare and “a real treat.”

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They were a picture-perfect couple, and the public was obsessed with the relationship.

Home Sweet Home

The stars bought a beautiful colonial home for their family in Westport, Connecticut. The area is a charming little historic town in which they opted for a 10.46-acre estate, which was a stop on the Underground Railroad.

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Before they bought the property, the Coley family had owned it for over 200 years.

The End of an Era

Paul Newman left us too soon in 2008 at the age of 83. The year before was when he’d retired from acting.

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Unfortunately, Joanne Woodward suffers from Dementia, and she’s having a hard time remembering the 50 years she spent with her loving husband.

Hollywood Friends

Joanne Woodward wasn’t the only one who was upset by her husband’s death. His Hollywood friends mourned the loss of their pal and co-star, including actor Robert Redford.

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The two men had built a friendship that blossomed on the set of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

Diagnosed

When Redford was a kid, he suffered from polio, which made his life considerably more difficult. He was 11-years old when it hit him and prevented him from walking for several weeks.

 

Although he was able to recover, he is reportedly suffering post-polio syndrome now, at age 82.

Early Life

Robert Redford grew up in Santa Monica, California, in 1936. His father was a milkman and would later become an oil company accountant.

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His mother enjoyed art and literature, which spurred his passion for painting, which he would explore before landing in Hollywood.

Uncle David

Since Redford’s father was a milkman, he worked long hours and wasn’t really around much to see his family. His uncle David would teach him a lot, including how to throw a football.

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Because of this, they were close, which made it even harder on him when his uncle was killed at war after being drafted by the military.

Los Angeles

In his teenage years, he lived in Los Angeles, in the Van Nuys area, with his family. He considered himself to be a “bad student,” drifting around, looking for some direction in life.

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After high school, he went to the University of Colorado Boulder – but things didn’t go so well for him there.

The Boot

During his college years, he fell into the habit of regularly drinking alcohol. It got to the point that he was thrown out of school for partying and missing classes.

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After he lost his scholarship, he felt lost once again and knew he had to do something to try and find his purpose in life. His next move was traveling the world.

Putting Down Roots

Redford traveled all around Europe, where he lived in a number of countries, including Italy, France, and Spain. After his travels, he moved to New York City, where he enrolled at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.

 

It was there that he discovered his passion – and where NYC producers discovered their next Broadway star.

Finding Hope

When Robert was 22, he met a Mormon girl who went by the name of Lola Van Wagenen. Lola was studying in college at the time they started dating, but she fell head over heels for him, and they decided to tie the knot.

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Later, he would say that he married young in an effort to “save his life.” They ended up having quite the life together for several decades.

Tragedy strikes

In 1959, the Redford family would experience heartbreak in the form of the loss of their 10-week old son, Scott. The actor put him down in his crib, and by the following morning, cot death had claimed his life.

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The tragedy spun him into a deep depression, which he tried to overcome by throwing himself into his work.

Daisy Clover

A few years later, Redford appeared in the drama, “Daisy Clover,” directed by Robert Mulligan. In it, he co-stars alongside Natalie Wood as actors who are trying to rise up through the ranks in Hollywood. Though it initially bombed at the box office, it later found some recognition as a cult film.

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It was also nominated for a number of awards, including Best Costume Design at the 38th Academy Awards show.

The Catapult

Redford knew that he had to score a major breakthrough role in order to propel his career to where he wanted it to be. That moment came for him when he was cast in 1969’s hit, “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.”

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Paul Newman, who played the title role, actually had a hand in getting him the part.

Family Matters

Lola was married to the actor for over two decades, from 1957-1985. They had a total of four children together, Scott, Shauna, David James, and Amy Hart. They were happy together for a long time, and they both loved their children with all of their hearts.

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But Redford still had a passion to spare, and he spent it not only on his work but on philanthropic endeavors as well.

Learning to Write

Dylan Redford is the grandson of the late Hollywood legend, was one of the subjects in a film titled The Big Picture, which follows the lives of a few people dealing with dyslexia.  Dyslexia causes difficulties in reading, writing, and spelling, which made it hard for Dylan to grow up.

 

At the age of 10, he could hardly read or write and used to ask friends to do it for him.

A Legend Creates a Legend

Robert Redford holds many claims to fame, thanks to his extensive and successful Hollywood career, which led him down many paths. However, something else he has under his belt is the creation of the legendary Sundance Film Festival.

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The actor first actualized the idea in 1969, when he bought the land and started it all.

Nature lover

The late actor was an environmentalist throughout the majority of his life. At one point, he fought for the preservation of over 1.5 million acres of wilderness in Utah when it was in danger of being developed.

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It paid off, and in 1996, the land won protection by presidential decree.

School Years

Shauna Redford attended the University of Boulder in the 1980s, where she preferred to fly under the radar and hide her famous father’s identity from her classmates.

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With her bright and bubbly personality, charming smile, and bouncy golden locks, she didn’t need the extra attention, as things went along smoothly for her even without the boost of fame.

First love

While she was at school, she met up with a young man named Sid Lee Wells. Sid was studying journalism and was enrolled in the Navy ROTC program as well. The two got involved romantically and were a happy item for several years throughout their time in Boulder.

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Perhaps they would’ve walked down the aisle together, but tragedy struck before that happy ending would arrive.

The Same Old Tale

Her good looks obviously earned her plenty of male admirers, but none could match Sid Wells. He stole Shauna’s heart and soon enough everyone expected them to get married someday.

 

Tragically, that day never came around.

The Murder

In what would become known as one of the most infamous cold cases in the area, and possibly the country, Sid, a good student, and all-around nice young person, was murdered in 1983. The homicide took place in a room he shared with his brother, Sam, and another roommate.

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Sam made the 911 call, saying he’d walked in and discovered Sid’s body on the ground.

The Wedding

Just a couple of years after her college sweetheart was shot dead where he lived, Shauna Redford got married to a new beau named Eric Schlosser. The wedding took place on her parent’s property in Utah.

 

Decades after the murder of Sid Wells, the killer would come to light, and the hunt for suspected murderer Thayne Smika continues. No one has seen or heard from the man since 1986, though authorities continue to search for him today.

Living the Good Life

Robert Redford’s film, “A Ghost Story,” which came out in 2017, was set to be his last. He actually announced his retirement, but the following year said that was “a mistake,” and arrived back on set to shoot “The Old Man & the Gun.” These days, he’s retired and married to Sybille Szaggars, whom he wed in 2011.

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His son, Jamie, has gone on to follow in his footsteps on directing, and even shot a film that was released in 2015 and showed some of his father’s environmental feats.