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Ali MacGraw Left Ex & Career for Steve McQueen Only to End up 'Broke' with a Little House after Their Divorce

Junie Sihlangu
May 27, 2022
07:40 A.M.
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Ali MacGraw was so in love with Steve McQueen that she left her first husband to be with him. Little did she know that her second marriage would be a disaster that would leave her struggling to make ends meet.

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According to July 1991's Orange Coast Magazine, by the time "Love Story" launched, Ali MacGraw was already married to her first husband, Robert Evans. Both stars, who married in 1971, were living glamorous lives, with MacGraw being a super famous actress.

Evans was also quite prominent in Hollywood as the head of the production at Paramount Studios. The young couple was the envy of all as they successfully hosted parties, premieres, and galas while wearing luxury items.

Ali MacGraw and Robert Evans at a formal event, circa 1970, in New York. | Source: Art Zelin/Getty Images

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MacGraw and Evans had private jets, which they used to go meet up with the president of France, the queen of England, and other famous international people. During their marriage, the couple welcomed a son, Joshua.

The actress appeared with her newborn son on magazine covers where she seemed serene. However, the truth was something else with MacGraw revealing how she truly felt about her highspeed life, saying:

"I felt like I was running in front of a forest fire, that if I didn't keep running, it would consume me somehow."

Ali MacGraw and Robert Evans during Net Aid on October 9, 1999, in Meadowlands, New Jersey. | Source: Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection/Getty Images

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The star confessed that it was all "exciting," but the downside was that it terrified her so much more. Years before, when MacGraw was already married to Evans, on May 4, 1986, the New Straits Times revealed how she'd upgraded her life.

She'd been living in a small New York apartment before marrying her husband, and afterward, she traded it in for a Beverly Hills mansion! The high Hollywood life didn't seem to be something the actress desired.

She explained that she hadn't dreamed of having people look at her all the time. The actress thought that must've been somebody else's dream because living like that shook her hard, and she had to try and hold onto her sanity.

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MEETING AND FALLING FOR STEVE MCQUEEN

Steve McQueen and Ali MacGraw in a publicity still issued for the film, "The Getaway," circa 1972. | Source: Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

Things changed in MacGraw's marriage when she met Steve McQueen. She met him when he came to discuss the possibility of her starring in "The Getaway," a movie he wanted to make with Evans' company producing.

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When the actress saw McQueen for the first time from across the room, she stopped breathing. Somehow she knew the star felt the same way she did, which frightened her.

Ali MacGraw and Steve McQueen on a Japanese poster art for "The Getaway," circa 1972. | Source: LMPC/Getty Images

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The actress tried to get herself out of the starring in the film using excuses like her son being too young, he wasn't a year old yet, and the script wasn't to her liking. After being pushed into it, MacGraw relented and left for San Antonio to shoot.

The actress started comparing Evans and McQueen. She noticed how her husband preened and used his ego while dealing with the finance guys, while McQueen seemed relaxed and calm as he attended meetings in Levi jeans.

Ali MacGraw and Steve McQueen in a black and white image in 1974. | Source: Tony Korody/Sygma/Getty Images

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The latter didn't speak much but somehow managed to have the big guns eating out of his hand. McQueen would even get things he didn't ask for just by using his charm and charisma.

Two years after her marriage to Evans, MacGraw left her husband for McQueen after the pair had a public affair. However, little did the actress know that her marriage to the actor would become a disaster.

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Ironically, even though MacGraw and McQueen were both actors when they tied the knot, he required her to stop acting. He also made her sign a prenuptial agreement (prenup) that blocked her from owning anything other than her clothes and accessories.

The actress gladly agreed, reassured that the conditions were part of McQueen's masculine ego. However, she slowly learned that she'd made a big mistake because her new husband didn't know himself or her.

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MacGraw became a stepmother to McQueen's son, Chad, and part of why she was happy stopping her work to look after her son and stepson. She and her husband lived like hermits in their Malibu home.

The years she wasn't working left her career critical. According to the actress, McQueen longed for a "normal" life which was probably why he had them living like hermits.

LEAVING STEVE AND STARTING AFRESH

Steve McQueen and Ali McGraw in a scene from the 1972 movie "The Getaway." | Source: Bettmann/Getty Images

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By the summer of 1977, MacGraw's second marriage was already falling apart. She chose to go back to acting because she needed something to do, but the road wasn't an easy one.

Eventually, her marriage to McQueen ended in divorce that same year after five years together. The prenup she'd signed backfired when it left her broke, and the actress had to keep trying to find acting roles wherever she could.

Steve McQueen and Ali MacGraw posing for a photo on a motorbike, circa 1972. | Source: Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

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The few movies she appeared in failed dismally. MacGraw had a guest feature on "Dynasty" and appeared in "Winds of War." The actress enjoyed her time on "Dynasty" but left because she felt it threatened her life with her son, defending her decision by saying:

"Some of the choices I've made in the past few years haven't been as stupid as they look."

Ali MacGraw with her son Joshua Evans, in California, circa 1978. | Source: John Bryson/Getty Images

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The star explained that she had a lot of people to support, including herself and Joshua. MacGraw also revealed that she wanted financial independence to be able to do whatever she wanted.

[Ali] MacGraw now had to restrain herself from bringing more strays into her home and had close ties with certain people.

Her most significant accomplishment after her son was "surviving the fairy tale" and getting her "real self back." A few years later, in 1980, McQueen died from cancer; his ex-wife struggled to find comfort again in her skin and never married again.

HOW MACGRAW LEFT HOLLYWOOD FOREVER

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Don Parmiter, a local resident, sitting among the ruins of neighbor Ali MacGraw's Malibu house on November 2, 1993. | Source: Denis Poroy/AFP/Getty Images

In 2017, AARP interviewed MacGraw about what happened to her after leaving McQueen. About 30 years ago, the former actress moved to a "little cottage" in Santa Fe, Mexico.

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The move happened in 1993 after she experienced a fire in her Malibu home. She interpreted the incident as a sign that she needed to physically move away from Hollywood and spent her time volunteering for animal welfare causes.

Ali MacGraw in a promotional tour for the video "Yoga" in Hamburg, Germany, on November 8, 1995. | Source: Wallocha/ullstein bild/Getty Images

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MacGraw now had to restrain herself from bringing more strays into her home and had close ties with certain people. She surrounded herself with ordinary people who weren't into the latest fashion and described her life as such:

“I feel incredibly blessed.”

Ali MacGraw working as a volunteer at the annual International Folk Art Market in Santa Fe, New Mexico. | Source: Robert Alexander/Getty Images

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The former actress did yoga, which she credited the exercise for how calm she was when her home burned down. Doing the exercise also left her feeling peaceful, joyous, and happy daily.

MacGraw also did pilates and took a daily 45-minute walk which she saw as meditation. She's also made peace with her life and wasn't aching to have a grand love affair or an artistic breakthrough.

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