“The King of Cool”, Steve McQueen, was an actor who was especially popular during the height of the counterculture movement of the 1960s. He was loved by his myriad of fans for his anti-hero persona and dashing good looks.
McQueen was one of Hollywood’s biggest box-office draws in the late 1960s. And in 1974 he became the highest-paid film star on the planet.
It was well known that he could be combative with producers and directors. But given his immense popularity with audiences, he remained in high demand for the better part of three decades.
A few of McQueen’s most memorable roles include his turns in The Magnificent Seven, The Cincinnati Kid, The Great Escape, and The Towering Inferno. And for his role in 1966’s The Sand Pebbles, McQuuen received an Academy Award nomination.
Actress Ali MacGraw, best remembered for her role as Jenny in 1970s Love Story. Married to famed Hollywood producer Robert Evans before meeting and falling madly in love with her co-star Steve McQueen while on the set of their 1971 film The Getaway.
What started as just another spicy Hollywood love affair eventually evolved into a full-fledged romance. McGraw ended up leaving Evans and married McQueen in 1973.
Unfortunately, as these kinds of things often go, their relationship soon soured. And in 1977, MacGraw and McQueen went their separate ways.
A year later, Steven was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma – a kind of cancer often associated with asbestos exposure. McQueen died of a heart attack on November 7, 1980. Just hours after undergoing surgery to remove numerous metastasized tumors in his neck. He was just 50 years old when he passed away.
MacGraw has since opened up about her fiery yet tumultuous romance with Steve McQueen while also revealing just how bad things got while they were still together. Keep watching to hear what Ali McGraw has to say about that particularly painful chapter of her life.
You’ll be absolutely stunned to hear how awful their marriage and breakup were. But we imagine you’ll also feel a lot of sympathy for how heartbroken Ali was after learning of McQueen’s death. Join Facts Verse to learn more about how Ali Macgraw Reveals the Horrors of Steve McQueen Divorce.
McQueen Turned Ali MacGraw’s Life And Career Upside Down
Born to commercial artist parents in Bedford Village, New York. Ali MacGraw grew up with a lack of self-esteem and was surrounded by drama. Her parent’s were constantly at odds with each other. And her father was a morbid alcoholic who’s temper would flare whenever he hit the bottle.
To get away from her frustrations with her home life, Ali MacGraw started modeling, landing a pretty decent gig under Diana Vreeland. Just a couple of years later, she scored her first role in the film A Lovely Way To Die. Her next significant bit of screentime was in the hit 1969 rom-com Goodbye, Columbus.
While she was modeling back in college, Ali met director Robert Evans, who would eventually cast her in Love Story as the character Jenny. One day MacGraw visited Evan’s Beverly Hills home to go over her role and ended up never leaving.
The two struck up a romance and married not long after.
MacGraw’s career suddenly exploded. The positive critical reception that her previous performances had garnered. Coupled with her marriage to one of Tinsel Town’s most revered directors, resulted in her being one of the most sought after actresses of her day.
In 1971, McQueen came to her home to inquire if she wanted to work with him on The Getaway as his co-star. But from the moment that she opened the door. Ali was absolutely smitten by the handsome man that was standing in front of her.
They shared an instant connection that led to them starting an affair. Not long after that, MacGraw left Evans and immediately moved in with McQueen. And for a spell, their life was filled with a sort of romance and happiness that they had never before known.
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Ali Describes Their Relationship As ‘Chemical’
In 2018, the 83-year-old actress sat down with People and discussed her marriage to Steve McQueen. When describing what kind of relationship they had, Ali referred to it as ‘chemical’.
MacGraw said that Steve could walk into a room, and any ‘man, woman or child’ would go ‘Whoa! What was that?’. She went on to say that she was no exception.
While Ali found McQueen incredibly attractive most of the time, she said that there was always an element of danger with him, adding that there was, as she put it, ‘a bad boy there’.
In 2017, MacGraw gave another interview to the UK’s Times news outlet. In that interview, she described how their marriage started blissful but quickly spiraled into chaos.
MacGraw and McQueen lived together in a secluded Malibu home where they spent most of their time ‘half-naked on the beach’ while enjoying frequent barbecues and a never-ending supply of beer and cannabis.
Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, of all people, were their neighbors, but they mainly mingled with the more common folk.
MacGraw told the Times that she’s grateful that they lived there before the advent of the modern smartphone and the invasion of privacy that comes with celebrities having their pictures taken whenever they step out of their homes.
While they still had to put up with the paparazzi, they at least knew where they were going to be. It’s not like today where celebs can’t even take a smoke break without winding up on the front page of TMZ.
McQueen’s Dark Side Reared It’s Ugly Head
While Ali had described McQueen as being a principled and original person, when they first got together. She didn’t know that he was battling with his own inner demons related to childhood traumas. His dad had abandoned his family when he was just a baby. And his mom sent him off to a boarding school for troubled children when he was 14.
Since then, he never trusted women. MacGraw, unfortunately, had to learn this the hard way.
Really, she should have picked up on this and seen the red flags waving when he made her sign a prenup. But at that time she was too infatuated to suspect that anything about him might have been worrisome.
He Wanted Her To Quit Working
Another red flag that Ali should have picked up on was McQueen’s pre-matrimonial demand that she quit working. Instead of fighting this request and sticking with her lucrative and successful acting career. She simply submitted and stayed at home to raise their two sons.
Pretty soon, MacGraw started feeling stifled. Steven would regularly explode with anger if he saw her so much as look at another man. Not one to talk, his eyes would often wander.
Not surprisingly, their relationship quickly soured, and in 1977, they separated and divorced a year later.
In 1980, when McQueen died of cancer, MacGraw was understandably devastated. Their marriage might not have been the best, but she still loved him.
Throughout their time together, she always feared that he would someday leave her. But she never expected him to leave this world so soon.
With multiple failed marriages and an acting career that had dried up years ago, MacGraw fell into a deep, dark depression. To numb her pain, she sought solace at the bottom of a bottle. She soon found herself at the Betty Ford Clinic, where she admitted to not only being an alcoholic but also a male.
It’s unclear whether or not she still identifies as a man as she still uses female pronouns. But the fact that she was able to come to terms with her alcoholism was an enormous step in the right direction.
She underwent extensive therapy to curb her addiction. And in 1994 she left Hollywood behind to live a quiet life in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Since then, she has penned an autobiography titled Moving Pictures that has earned her the title of Best Selling Author.
MacGraw admits that for the longest time, she continued to live in the past – always pondering what might have been if things had played out differently. But now, she’s more focused than she has ever been on her future.
In addition to writing, MacGraw also likes to paint, garden, and occasionally go out on a date or two. She also devotes a lot of time and energy to animal welfare causes and actively practices a daily meditation and yoga routine.
She’s not that interested in acting anymore, but back in 2016, she briefly reunited with her former Love Story co-star Ryan O’Neil for a touring production of the play Love Letters. The two aging stars have maintained a close relationship over the years and still enjoy each other’s company immensely.
Love is a fickle thing. It’s uncanny how often people who love each other intensely end up breaking up due to some sort of inherent incompatibility.
Steve McQueen’s closest friend in his final years, martial-arts master Pat Johnson told Vanity Fair a couple of years ago the late star loved Ali MacGraw more than he loved anyone else in his entire life – ‘until the day he died’.
Even though they divorced three years before his death, Pat says that McQueen was still ‘madly in love with her’ right up until the end.
So, while it sure sounds like he wasn’t always the best husband and was pretty controlling, there was something shared between Ali and Steve that was very real.
Anyway, that about wraps up this video, but we’d love to hear what you have to say.
Did you know that Ali MacGraw left her husband Robert Evans to run off with Steve McQueen. And that they ended up having a turbulent marriage that ended in divorce in 1978? Let us know in the comments.
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