It should come as little surprise to our sophisticated readers that the stars we write about five days a week often are not personally the best of human beings. This is especially true of this week’s star of the moment — Steve McQueen.
McQueen was a handful even for the press agents employed by the studios. They comprise a worldly-wise group. They know their star charges best, even better sometimes than the star’s spouses. They are employees of an strangely intimate sort, and often get to see their charges at their personal worst.
That’s why we were intrigued by a chatty and informative book written by veteran publicist Leonard Morpurgo, Of Kings and Queens and Movie Stars: True Revelations of a Hollywood Publicist! (Global Book Publishers, 2009).
Like many in his trade, Morpurgo did much more than just publicize his clients. He also functioned as event organizer, schmoozer to the stars and general all around handler. Publicists can get very close to their charges — sometimes too close — and glean all sorts of personal information best kept (at least for the star involved) private.
Fortunately for us, Morpurgo spilled the personal beans about a number of his clients, sometimes revealing star quirks and other weirdness. Here’s what he wrote about today’s subject.
Steve McQueen: Ali MacGraw was as sweet as McQueen was mean. No wonder the marriage between the two (pictured above) didn’t last. (It ran its course in five years. Ed.)
Morporgo accompanied the actor to France to promote 1971’s racing car feature Le Mans. The slick magazine Paris Match, a big deal in the market, promised to put the actor on its front cover provided he was photographed — in color — in Le Mans. But the actor stopped things in their tracks by only allowing himself to be photographed in black and white. Take it or leave it. Black and white.
The shots were taken as ordered, and wound up being used in Paris Match deep inside, single column, two inches.
As mentioned, McQueen was a handful to those around him, especially including second wife Magraw. After he married a third time, he became a born-again Christian shortly before his death in 1980 at age 50.