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Jewish World Review
Dec. 14, 2010
/ 7 Teves, 5771
Who's cooler than Steve McQueen? (Answer: nobody)
I never wanted to be the grumpy old man who complains incessantly about how everything used to be better in the good old days.
But, sometimes, I can't help myself.
I was reminded of the good old days recently through a series of events. The first was the 30th anniversary of Steve McQueen's death. He died at the age of 50 in Mexico on Nov. 7, 1980. His ashes were scattered in the Pacific Ocean.
The second event, which was tied to the previous event, was the release of a warts-and-all McQueen biography by Marshall Terrill, who wrote an earlier biography of the actor. His updated book is called "Steve McQueen: The Life and Legend of a Hollywood Icon."
The third event was the publication of the annual People magazine "Sexiest Man Alive" issue, in which Ryan Reynolds was anointed. Apparently, George Clooney was busy that day.
The magazine really brought it home for me. They sure don't make them like Steve McQueen anymore. No offense to Ryan Reynolds, of course.
From his entry into the movie business with "The Blob," and through a succession of roles in movies such as "The Magnificent Seven," "The Great Escape," "The Cincinnati Kid," "Nevada Smith," "Bullitt" and "The Getaway," Steve McQueen always played it cool.
In an industry that has included the likes of Clark Gable, Gary Cooper, Errol Flynn, Cary Grant, Marlon Brando, James Dean, Warren Beatty, Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney, Robert Mitchum and Paul Newman, McQueen is widely considered the coolest guy who ever drove across the cinematic landscape.
Pundits throw the word "cool" around like it is interchangeable with "attractive" or "hot" or "sexy." But there is a reason why People magazine doesn't annually declare the "Coolest Man Alive."
Sexy, hot or attractive are words that can be bandied about on a yearly basis, but cool is so rare that it is considered generational.
OK, that might be a slight exaggeration. Still, cool is so much cooler than sexy.
Trying to define "cool" is near-impossible. Cool is something you know instinctively when you see it. And, of course, cool — like art — is in the eye of the beholder.
For instance, I acknowledge that Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt and Russell Crowe are huge movie stars. Some might even find them incredibly attractive. In Pitt's case, I have always believed that he is the identical twin my mother neglected to tell me about.
But I wouldn't put any of these high-powered actors on my list of cool movie stars. To be fair, each has had his cool moments on the big screen (Cruise in "Top Gun," Pitt in "Oceans 11" and "Snatch" and Crowe in "L.A. Confidential" and "Gladiator"), but not on a consistent basis.
On the other hand, name a movie in which Steve McQueen was NOT cool? Go ahead; I'll wait.
But I'm not trying to say that the concept of cool died three decades ago with McQueen. There are a number of cool guys working in Hollywood today, but they're not necessarily named Ryan or Ethan or Brendan or Jake or Ben or even Keanu.
However, they might be named Johnny.
One more thing; the original question we posed — "Who's cooler than Steve McQueen?" — is a trick question. Nobody's cooler.
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