Steve McQueen and Adoption

McQueen in Wanted: Dead or Alive, 1959


Steve McQueen's father abandoned the family in Indiana when he was less than a year old. His mother then gave him into the care of an uncle, a farmer in Missouri, where he lived until he was 12. He then lived with his mother in Los Angeles, where he began to get into trouble with the law. Eventually in 1944 his mother sent him to Boys Republic in Chino, a private residential treatment center for troubled boys (not a reform school or borstal, as is sometimes stated). He stayed at Boys Republic for 18 months and was always grateful for its help in turning him around. (He frequently visited it after he became famous, and left it $200,000 in his will.) He joined his mother in New York, but the reunion was not successful and he briefly worked in the merchant navy before jumping ship in Cuba.

He held various odd jobs until he was 17, when he joined the US Marines. After the Marines he again held a succession of odd jobs until he started acting school, where he soon showed the talent which eventually made him one of the most famous and highly-paid actors in the world.


Terrill, Marshall. Steve McQueen: Portrait of an American Rebel. (New York: D.I. Fine, 1994) Toffel, Neile McQueen. My Husband, My Friend: A Memoir. (New York: Atheneum, 1986) Spiegel, Penina. McQueen: The Untold Story of a Bad Boy in Hollywood. (Garden City: Doubleday, 1986) Boys Republic. "Boys Republic: Testimonials." [Includes portrait]. Available at: Lambos, Chris. "The First Steve McQueen Site on the Internet." [Includes portraits]. Available at: "Steve McQueen." [Includes portraits]. Available at: