Now we all know lots of glamorous factoids about Steve McQueen. But there are, in fact, some less known facts about him. Now many know that, in fact, he was a troubled youth who spent time at the Boys Republic in Chino, California. And obviously he went on to fame and fortune. But he did a great deal of anonymous good deeds, and I thought I'd share a few of them here courtesy of -
While in Taiwan in 1966 filming The Sand Pebbles, Steve and his first wife Neile came across an orphanage for young girls (most of whom were prostitutes). It was run by a catholic priest called Edward Wojniak. Steve donated $12,500 then and there, and continued to support the mission until Wojniak died in the late 1970's.
Over the years Steve constantly visited the boys home (Boys Republic) which he himself had spent time in while growing up. Each year in the holiday seasons (when their spirits could be lowest because they had no family to visit them) he appeared with Christmas toys, Easter baskets and Thanksgiving turkeys. So these boys without a family of their own got to see a real movie star each Christmas and on other festive occasions. It wasn't just a quick publicity walkthrough either. Steve would actually just sit with them and talk for long periods of time. On one occasion, when he heard that two teenage boys had been sent to an adult prison, he offered to pay for them to be sent to a less severe BOYS institution. Over the years Steve donated large amounts of money to Boys Republic.
He said, "Somewhere, right now, there are kids going through what I went through. Maybe if they know I survived, they can find hope. I can't promise they'll ever forget what happened to them. But if they hold out, they'll get through okay and learn to live with the bad memories...and still learn to love."
During the filming of Le Mans in 1970, Steve made a brief stopover in London, where he toured the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children, moving from bed to bed, talking with each child. At this time he also arranged an auction of one of his antique guns, with all the proceeds going to the French Childrens Fund for orphans.
|Courtesy of B.R.M.|
In light of the pandemic forcing a 2020 show cancellation (The Friends of Steve McQueen Car & Motorcycle Show), longtime supporter BRM Chronographes has offered a limited edition ‘Great Escape’ themed tribute watch to raise proceeds for Boys Republic. Select proceeds from each watch sold will go directly to Boys Republic, in an effort to raise funds for what would have been a 2020 show. The fully automatic watch is limited to just 5 pieces and not available anywhere in stores. The special details of the watch are specifically tailored to imagery from the classic film, including leather strap, baseball red stitching, and barbed wire engraved case. Each example will be numbered with a certificate of authenticity.
Retail Price: $6300 Ea. / Select Proceeds To Benefit Boys Republic
Limited Edition Of 5 Pieces
Automatic Movement With Sapphire Crystal
Screw Down Crown With Engraved Fortal HR Aluminum Case