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Steve McQueen’s Kids Were Shielded from Troubles That He Had with Their Mom - Inside His Rocky Marriage

Oyin Balogun
Feb 09, 2022
01:40 P.M.
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Despite his abusive childhood and rocky relationship with his wife, actress Neile Adams, Steve McQueen's love for his kids was unwavering. 

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When he met actress and singer Neile Adams, Steve McQueen was still a struggling actor, starring in a Broadway musical comedy show titled "The Pajama Game."

They ultimately fell in love, but while still courting, Adams realized her soon-to-be husband had a reputation for being a womanizer and was still messing around with women. She decided to ignore his transgressions since she loved him and hoped he would eventually change. 

American actor Steve McQueen (1930 - 1980) with his first wife, actress Neile Adams, 1965 [Left] | Steve McQueen relaxes with his son Chad as he stars in the movie 'Le Mans' on June 24, 1971 in Le Mans, France. [Right] | Photo: Getty Images

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THEIR BURGEONING ROMANCE 

When McQueen and Adams met in 1956, they searched for someone to love and be loved by. The actor took her on a motorcycle ride around Manhattan on their first date, which kick-started their romance. 

Even though McQueen looked tough outside, he was a very tender person, and the actor was so in love with Adams he moved into her Studio apartment within a week of their first date. 

Even though both had different personalities, they complimented each other; McQueen was a hard man who needed someone a bit grounded, and Adams was a convent girl who was excited at the opportunity of dating a bad boy. 

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American actor Steve McQueen with his wife, Filipino-American actress Neile Adams, sitting on a Ferrari 275 Cabriolet, Beverly Hills, 1970. | Photo: Getty Images

The actor also had a reputation for being a womanizer, and Adams's friends and colleagues doubted McQueen's intentions. They told the actress he probably just wanted to use her like he had so many women in the past. 

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Many also wondered why Adams, who had a blossoming career and was already a star on Broadway with people in love with her singing and dancing skills, would want to get involved with an iffy actor like McQueen. 

But the actress was already in love, and all these concerns fell on deaf ears. She was ready to make sacrifices for McQueen, even though she knew the actor was still messing around with women.

Steve McQueen and Neile Adams attend 27th Annual Golden Globe Awards at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, California on February 2, 1970. | Photo: Getty Images

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The actress realized McQueen was not a monogamous type of man. She, however, did not ask him anything when she suspected he was messing around; she believed what she did not know would not hurt her.

Adams was filming "This Could Be The Night" when McQueen flew to California to propose to her, and the actress said yes. The pair got married soon after.

The beginning of their marriage was good, and McQueen made Adams feel wanted. He would also frequently buy her gifts. 

Steve McQueen and Neile Adams embrace during the filming of TV series 'Alfred Hitchcock Presents' entitled 'Man from the South,' on December 23, 1959. | Photo: Getty Images

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At the time of their marriage, Adams had a more successful acting career, but soon after, the actress had to sacrifice bits of her job to fulfill her duties and take care of her husband, who preferred a stay-at-home wife.

Not long after their marriage, McQueen's career took flight after his performance in a couple of successful movies, and he became a more recognized celebrity than his wife. 

Terry and Chad idolized their father, and after their parent's divorce was finalized in 1972, Chad remained with McQueen.

Steve McQueen in a publicity shoot for the movie "The Thomas Crown Affair" in 1968. | Photo: Getty Images

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LIFE AFTER MARRIAGE 

Adams sacrificed her acting career completely after she gave birth to her kids; daughter Terry and son Chad. She was, however, instrumental in helping McQueen stay on top of his acting gigs.

She would sometimes read the scripts for him and also encouraged him to appear in the low-budget 1958 horror movie "The Blob," which went on to become a cult classic. She also advised her husband to start removing his shirts in every film because he had a great body. 

All these efforts impacted McQueen's career greatly, and he started making a big impact on the screen. The actor's stock rose so much that he would sometimes charge producers extra money to use his jewelry. 

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Steve McQueen taking a walk with his daughter Terry circa 1964. | Photo: Getty Images

Also, when Princess Margaret and her husband Lord Snowdon visited Los Angeles in 1965 and had a party thrown for them, McQueen and Adams were invited as guests.

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Meanwhile, as his fame grew, so did his extramarital affairs. McQueen got free love from women, and he started neglecting his wife. 

The actor would, however, buy Adams gifts whenever he had cheated to beg her forgiveness. McQueen also started using hard drugs like marijuana and cocaine. 

American actor Steve McQueen with his first wife, actress Neile Adams, at a SHARE party, USA, 25th May 1968. | Photo: Getty Images

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Adams got used to her husband's womanizing and turned a blind eye because he was a good father to their kids. 

The dynamics of their relationship changed when McQueen began filming the movie "Le Mans." The actor was in bed with Adams in a French Chateau he rented and demanded to know if she had ever been unfaithful. 

He forced her to take a sniff of cocaine, and afterward, Adams confessed to an old-time fling she had with an Austrian actor Maximilian Schell. 

Portrait of celebrity actor Steve McQueen with his son, Chad McQueen, and his bike collection in his garage on June 13, 1971. | Photo: Getty Images

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Their children were asleep in the opposite room, but that did not stop McQueen from holding an unloaded gun to his wife's head. He also kept slapping her in between questions and was furious she had slept with an actor.

He declared: "Why couldn't it have been an electrician or a plumber at least? Why did it have to be a movie star?" That incident marked the end of their relationship, and two years after, the pair divorced.  

Portrait of celebrity actor Steve McQueen with his son, Chad McQueen, during photo shoot in the Mojave Desert on June 13, 1971. | Photo: Getty Images

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MCQUEEN'S RELATIONSHIP WITH HIS KIDS

McQueen did not have a good relationship with his father as a child, but the actor made sure history did not repeat itself when it came to his kids. The actor's father abandoned him and his mother, Julia, when McQueen was just a baby.

Afterward, his mother left him with some relatives, and McQueen ultimately became part of the street gangs in Los Angeles. He was subsequently sent to a home for troubled boys. 

Actor Steve McQueen relaxes with his daughter Terry and his son Chad as he stars in the movie 'Le Mans' on June 24, 1971. | Photo: Getty Images

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This rebellious behavior continued into adulthood but irrespective, the actor remained unwavering in how he treated his two children even when his relationship with his wife was nearing its end. 

No matter how weirdly he acted or how long he stayed away from home due to his movie career, the kids knew their father loved them.

Actor Steve McQueen relaxes with his son Chad as he stars in the movie 'Le Mans' on June 24, 1971. | Photo: Getty Images

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He also cast one of his kids in a movie he produced and ensured his kids acted a certain way because their behaviors reflected on him. 

Terry and Chad idolized their father, and after their parent's divorce was finalized in 1972, Chad remained with McQueen while Terry stayed with Adams.

Actor Steve McQueen relaxes with his son Chad as he stars in the movie 'Le Mans' on June 24, 1971. | Photo: Getty Images

Sadly the actor passed away in 1989 at just 50 years old. He died from a heart attack after having undergone surgery for cancer. 

Nine years later, the actor's daughter Terry McQueen died of respiratory failure at UCLA Medical Center at 38. She was survived by her mother, brother, and daughter Molly. 

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