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Mo. town to celebrate Steve McQueen

This 1970 photo shows Steve McQueen in "The Hunter." The late actor will be honored later this month in the central Missouri town of Slater, where he grew up.AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

Steve McQueen, aka the "King of Cool," will be honored later this month in the central Missouri town of Slater, where he grew up. McQueen, whose famous movie moments include a mad motorcycle dash in "The Great Escape" and a car chase through the streets of San Francisco in "Bullitt," was born in Beech Grove, Ind., on March 24, 1930. He spent much of his childhood in Slater on his great-uncle's farm, organizers said.

Steve McQueen Days, to be held March 23-25, could help raise the tourism profile of the farming community of 2,100 residents, about 200 miles northwest of St. Louis, the city's assistant administrator, Russell Griffith, said Monday.

"We hope to do it again, but this is a unique opportunity to meet people who knew Steve McQueen throughout his life," said event coordinator Dan Viets, a Columbia lawyer who has written extensively about Missouri's film history.

McQueen died in 1980 at age 50, having lost his battle against cancer. He would have been 77 this year.

The three-day event will include screenings of his movies, a showing of memorabilia and tours to his boyhood home and former school.

Among those expected to attend: McQueen's widow, Barbara McQueen, his stuntman Loren Janes and Pat Johnson, his martial-arts instructor and friend.

McQueen received an Oscar nomination for his role in 1966's "The Sand Pebbles." His screen credits also include "The Magnificent Seven" (1960), "The Great Escape" (1963), "The Cincinnati Kid" (1965), "The Thomas Crown Affair" (1968), "Bullitt" (1968), "Papillon" (1973) and "The Towering Inferno" (1974).

An auction of McQueen memorabilia from his widow and other collectors in Los Angeles last year brought in $2.9 million. Items included a pair of Persol sunglasses, believed to have been worn by the actor in "The Thomas Crown Affair," which fetched a winning bid of $70,200.