It was the year JFK was shot dead in Dallas, Texas. It was also the year Martin Luther King had his ‘dream’. For better and for worse 1963 was a year like no other – a time when ‘real men’ drank scotch, smoked and womanised (think Don Draper from Mad Men) and women were beginning to realise that they could have a career as well as being a ‘housewife’.
So hopefully I’ve set the scene for the images I’m about to share with you. But wait…I’ve forgotten to tell you the most important part! Know Steve McQueen? No? Well, you’re obviously not hot on your American film stars. Steve McQueen was the ‘King of cool’ in the 60s – on this side of the Atlantic too! He starred in great, classic films, like Bullit and The Great Escape and became the highest paid actor of that time. “But what does this have to do with photography Lynz?” I hear you ask. Well, I was browsing the Daily Mail this morning when I came across some images that I loved so much I just had to download them and share them with you. I now have a fully fledged crush on McQueen (Sorry Gary Oldman – I do still love you but I’m not IN love with you right now!)
Taken in 1963 for a Life Magazine photo shoot by John Dominis, this series of shots of McQueen at home and at the gym give us an intimate view of the star’s life and relationship with his first wife, Neile Adams. The photographs, aside from portraying McQueen as romantic, butch and and stylish (not sure I know of anyone alive today that pulls all three off with aplomb today) showcase the stylish interior decorations of the time. The sofa, the stool the vinyl record player – all beautifully designed objects that a lot of people pay a lot of money for these days.
My favourite shot has to be McQueen sitting on a sofa, decked out in white Vans and sunglasses, aiming a revolver at a wall. It’s the angles, it’s the b&w but it also sums up McQueen perfectly – the King of cool indeed.