The Moment Steve McQueen’s Life Changed

By   •   September 26, 2017   •   Topics: ,

He was a Hollywood bad boy and headstrong thrill-seeker, drawn to drugs, women, fast cars and motorcycles. At the height of his stardom in the 1960s and ’70s, Steve McQueen was at the top of his game, yet the “King of Cool” was still searching for something more. That’s the subject of a new documentary, Steve McQueen: American Icon.

>> Get tickets to the Oct. 10 encore showing of Steve McQueen: American Icon, presented by Pastor Greg Laurie.

With an alcoholic mother and a string of abusive stepfathers, McQueen had always wanted a real dad in his life—someone to look up to. He found a father figure in his flight instructor, Sammy Mason, who answered his countless questions about faith and told him about the perfect Father, God Himself.

Little by little, this lead role in The Great Escape stopped running in the opposite direction of God. Three months after McQueen and his wife started attending Mason’s church in California, McQueen invited the pastor to lunch and asked another round of questions. Could he really be forgiven? What does it look like to follow Jesus Christ?

With a slew of fictional movies under his belt, this actor wanted to know the truth.

It was during that lunch that the pastor, Leonard DeWitt, asked McQueen about his own beliefs, and McQueen shared that he had devoted his life to Christ a few weeks back. He had a new purpose and an ever-softening demeanor.

Six months later, in late 1979, McQueen was diagnosed with cancer. Although he wanted to live, friends and family could see he was also at peace. If and when he died, he said, he knew where he was going.

On Nov. 3, 1980, four days before his death, one of McQueen’s wishes came true. He’d wanted to meet evangelist Billy Graham for some time, and on that day, Mr. Graham paid him a visit. The pair prayed together and talked about the afterlife, and McQueen told him how his faith in Christ helped him deal with the cancer. At the end of their meeting, Billy Graham left McQueen his personal Bible, the name “Billy Graham” printed on the front and all.

Inside, he wrote the date, along with a message: “To my friend Steve McQueen, may God bless and keep you always.” He signed his name, along with a reference to a Bible verse, Philippians 1:6: “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

Billy Graham’s Bible became McQueen’s most valued possession. He died on Nov. 7—Billy Graham’s 62nd birthday—and was found clutching that Bible.

Before his death, McQueen said he wanted to tell more people about God. While he grew weaker physically, he grew stronger spiritually, and wanted others to know where that strength came from.

God began something wonderful in McQueen’s life—a total transformation—and has continued impacting others through his story. Nov. 7 is much more than his death date; it’s the day the King of Cool met the King of kings.

Whatever you’re chasing after in life, nothing compares to God Himself. If He can change Steve McQueen’s life, he can change yours, too. Read more.

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  1. Virginia says:

    Always wondered if Steve McQueen was a Christian; so He accepted Christ as his Saviour.

  2. Bj fletcher says:

    Peace. I watched my mom at 83, after losing 3 of her children, husband and many more, through the strength of God get through all of that! But at 83 she was handed a diagnosis of cancer. Instead of fear, for the first time, I truly saw a peace come over my mom. She had been a good Christian woman all her life, but she finally left it at the foot of the cross. My prayer is for all of us to forget the worldly desires and reach for peace!!!

  3. Barron Neal says:

    Very encouraging to know that Steve McQueen found faith in Jesus.

  4. june meyer says:

    I’ve watched Steve McQueen on TV, and was happy and encouraged to learn that he came to faith in Christ.

  5. Rick says:

    We watched the film last night and found it to be absolutely fantastic. I never knew that Steve McQueen died a fellow believer. I think all Christ-followers should view this film.

  6. Sandi says:

    He was one of my favorite actors and to hear his story and watch this documentary was truly magnificent. I admit I cried toward the end, he wanted to complete so much after receiving Jesus as his Savior. This documentary is a way for that to happen, to share the Gospel, The message of Jesus Christ and how it changed his life and who knows how many more. Looking forward to getting the book.

  7. Steve ohler says:

    Just trying to be sure I get it right before my time comes.

  8. Helen Eiden says:

    Billy Graham bought many to Christ Jesus. For me it was a woman named Sylvia whom I met in the maternity ward on 3/14/1968. Been with Jesus ever since. All my family that passed was saved. PTL

    1. Helen Eiden says:

      Above I meant to say she led me to the Lord, a year after we met which was on 3/14/1969. Not one of my family members died without Jesus. My grandmother was 93 and she went home at 100 yrs. old.

  9. Edith Lynn Harris says:

    I was reading the article about Steve McQueen and I want to learn more.

    1. BGEA says:

      Hi Edith,

      Thanks for asking. You can learn more about having a personal relationship with Christ here: Peace With God. If you have questions, you can chat online with a team member. Or if you’d rather talk to someone on the phone, call 1-877-247-2426.

      Here’s another good resource: GoingFarther

      God bless you!