He was a struggling actor and she was a Broadway star when Steve McQueen picked Neile Adams up for their first date in 1956. “I had never been on a motorcycle before,” The Sand Pebbles star’s ex-wife, Neile, recently dished to Closer Weekly in the magazine’s latest issue, on newsstands now. “He said, ‘Get on and hold on tight.’ I was a convent girl, so I was used to being told what to do. That was the start of our romance!”
They wed later that year, and their love’s breakneck pace didn’t wane after Steve became a superstar in films like 1968’s Bullitt. “When he was good, he was adorable, and when he was bad, he was a pain in the ass,” the 86-year-old shared.
The couple hit the skids in the late ’60s and Neile blames the sexual revolution. “Everybody was having free love and free sex,” she recalled. “If he could get free love out there, why would he work hard for it at home?”
For a while, Steve coasted by on his charm. “He always bought me presents when he had his affairs with flower children,” Neile admitted. He always remained devoted to their kids, though — daughter Terry, who died at 38 in 1998, and son Chad, 58. “Steve was loving and affectionate with them — that never changed.”
The couple’s tumultuous relationship is dramatized in the new biopic Chasing Bullitt — out March 5. “Neile was the love of his life,” Andre Brooks, who will star in the role of Steve, revealed to Closer. “But he turned into this wild guy, and things spun out of control.”
Following an affair that Steve had with Ali MacGraw, his costar in 1972’s The Getaway, Neile slammed on the brakes and the couple divorced. He died at 50 in 1980, but Neile said he left a lasting legacy: “Our children, our grandchildren, his films and me.”
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