Steve McQueen: License to Thrill

In this interview from 1961, Steve McQueen recounts the time he and his wife weaseled their way out of a speeding ticket.

Steve and Neile McQueen

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Originally published January 14, 1961

McQueen and his wife Neile were driving to Phoenix for some location shooting. “And at this point,” he says, “I’d lost my license twice, and if I got another ticket, it would be all over: I’d be driving Pogo sticks. We were on this long stretch of highway, a nice flat road — safe, no bumps — and I was going a hundred miles an hour in the Porsche, and all of a sudden this cop came up in back of us out of nowhere. And I asked Neile, ‘Are we still in California?’ and she said, ‘Yeah,’ and I said, ‘Well, it’s all over, baby.’

At the time, Neile was six months pregnant with their daughter, and Steve got an inspiration. “I stopped the car,” he says, “and I jumped out and ran up to the cop and said, ‘You’ve got to get me to the hospital. My wife’s going to have a baby.’ And he said, ‘Okay, follow me,’ and he took off and we followed him into town.” Neile was rushed into the hospital, and a nurse began examining her. “And I thought for sure they were going to make her have the baby,” Steve says. “That’s what really scared me. And as soon as the cop walked out the door, I said to the nurse, ‘Forget it, forget it; she’s cool; don’t worry about it,’ and I got her out.”

—“TV’s Angry Young Star” by Robert Johnson, January 14, 1961

First page of the Post article, TV's Angry Young Star
Read “TV’s Angry Young Star” by Robert Johnson from the January 14, 1961, issue of the Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.

This article is featured in the January/February 2021 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.

Featured image: Ride and seek: McQueen and his wife Neile in 1963. Ever since his spectacular motorcycle leap in The Great Escape” (actually performed by a stunt double for insurance reasons), the actor was as well known for his riding and driving skills as for his theatrical talent. (SEPS)

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  1. Really good vintage Post article from the archives. It feels good to know you talked your way out of a traffic ticket! I should know. Did it in 2012 thanks to some Post covers I’d Xeroxed for framing. I spoke of this once before in the comments some years back.

    The short version is I made a u-turn where I shouldn’t have to go to the bank. A motorcycle cop followed me into the lot and I pulled into a parking space. I took 2 of the covers out of the Office Depot bag after handing him my license. They were from 1957 & ’59. (A Dick Sargent and a Kurt Ard.) He smiled and lit up starting to talk about how much he loved Norman Rockwell’s covers. I just said how much I loved them too, and made these beautiful copies to frame! I held them up as he was studying them and slipped in I knew why I was pulled over, and it wouldn’t happen again.

    I told him I wanted him to HAVE these perfect copies as I rolled them and put a rubber band around them, handing them to him, smiling. He then thanked me, and said he’d let me off with a warning. I thanked him in return, and then he rode off.

    Hopefully they’re hanging in his home. I wonder if anyone seeing them looked at the signatures and realized they weren’t by Rockwell. Probably not. I partly contributed that day to the belief most people have that NR painted ALL of the old Post covers. Sorry about that, but had no choice but to ride that crest of a wave like magic.


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