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International Movie Star and Box Office Sensation
"The King of Cool" Steve McQueen was one of the biggest movie idols and box-office hits of the 1960s and 1970s. His very first cool move was using his GI Bill benefits to start his acting education.
When Steve McQueen quit high school in ninth grade, he worked as a seaman until he was old enough to join the United States Marine Corps in 1947. Always a rebel, McQueen once went AWOL for two weeks and spent 41 days in the brig.
But his Marine background gave him a solid foundation for success, After his discharge from the Marines in 1950, McQueen worked as a salesman, a bartender, and a television repairman, among other jobs.
In 1952, Steve McQueen took up acting at Sanford Meissner's Neighborhood Playhouse in New York with the support of his benefits under the GI Bill. In 1955, McQueen and fellow actor Martin Landau were chosen from a group of 2000 who auditioned for Lee Strasberg's Actor's Studio, a prestigious training center whose graduates include Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Marlon Brando and Marilyn Monroe.
McQueen went on to a role in the noted television series Wanted - Dead or Alive (1958-61). That plus McQueen's many film credits made him a household name, including The Magnificent Seven (1960), The Thomas Crown Affair (1968) Bullitt (1968) and Papillon (1973). For a time, Steve McQueen was the highest paid actor in the world, making $5 million per film.
Steve McQueen suffered an untimely death from cancer in 1980. His many films and his screen persona live on for future generations to enjoy, thanks to a start in acting at schools supported by his benefits from the GI Bill.
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