Steve McQueen in Great Escape

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

William T. McIntyre June 2, 2010 at 12:09 pm

This picture is obviously from the set of The Great Escape. Here’s an interesting Steve McQueen fact. Mr. McQueen did all of his own motorcycle stunts and would only ride Triumph motorcycles. If you’ll remember, he steals this bike from the Germans and jumps the fence. Notice the bike, it’s a Triumph. You say, “but wait, the Germans used BMW bikes.” You’d be right. Steve McQueen, however, gets what Steve McQueen wants.

John Forbes June 2, 2010 at 7:44 pm

Let’s remember this: the Cary Grant and Steve McQueen who we admire from movies were the facile creations of Hollywood. In real life, both of these men struggled with the dissonance between their public images and their real selves. I’m not saying that either was a bad guy; they were not. But let’s choose our heroes from those living among us, not from those up on the screen.

Jason June 11, 2010 at 8:02 pm

@William T. McIntyre, McQueen liked and rode all kinds of motorcycles, In addition to several Triumphs, he owned Indians, Husqvarnas, and Hondas to name a few.

And while McQueen did many of his own stunts, the most dangerous ones were performed by his friend and fellow racer, Bud Ekins.

For a great read about McQueen’s cars, motorcycles, stunts, and racing, try /McQueen’s Machines/ by Matt Stone.

Steve June 16, 2010 at 8:13 am

Jason,

You beat me to it. Steve McQueen is one of my personal heroes but he did not do the motorcycle jump scene in TGE; Bud Ekins did. Ironically, the motorcycle was done up to look like a German military machine, but was actually a Triumph. The bike still exists.

Harley Mike October 26, 2011 at 6:25 pm

Sorry to say that Mc Queen did not do the jump stunt in “The Great Escape”

I believe it was Bud Atkins

Jim October 29, 2011 at 9:14 am

Steve said… “The bike still exists.” That is a common misconception. You’ll see various quotes on websites that both confirm and contradict that. The truth is that the 4 bikes that Bud Ekins and Kenny Howard made for the movie came back to Sherman Oaks were put back stock and sold. Dave Ekins, Bud’s brother just recently confirmed that.

Toni November 29, 2011 at 10:43 pm

Really nice pic, I really love his movies :) He is the coolest old school actor

Kim September 11, 2012 at 3:06 pm

Do you know if the fabricators on the bikes in this movie got any help/parts from a fabricator with the last name of Chastain? Thanks! :)

best real estate agent July 20, 2013 at 2:29 am

Does the author of this web site live in america?
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Ed August 3, 2013 at 10:46 am

Just listened to an interview with a biographer about this subject. The reason Steve didn’t do the jump is because the studio wouldn’t let him. The insurance company wouldn’t insure the risk of him being injured.

dannyb278 August 21, 2013 at 3:16 pm

Steve mcqueen loved racing triumphs in the early 60′s but he was a avid bike collector and bough and ride all manner of brands, especially Indian and Triumph, but also favored the smaller, lighter and faster honda dirtbike which started to appear in the early to mid 70′s as well as the Husky’s he rode in On any Sunday.

The reason they used the triumph in the great escape was not becuase “steve mqueen gets what he wants” but because ww2 era BMW’s could have never made that jump and the TR6 that Ekins jumped with was pretty much THE bike to use back then as it was a established desert racer.

Valerie December 31, 2013 at 9:01 am

Steve McQueen had a passion for racing cars, bikes and collecting them.
He was a fantastic Actor. After all these years – long after his Death, I still admire him. For me, that says a lot. I love riding Bikes, especially my m/c – so I can understand the passion in his personal life. He was one of my admirers & still is!

myadonisgoldenratioreview.blogspot.com January 16, 2014 at 1:56 pm

When I initially commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added”
checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get three emails with
the same comment. Is there any way you can remove me from that service?
Thanks!

Malcolm Harper March 23, 2014 at 4:36 pm

Several of the actors in the great escape did the jump off screen, in the hollow I the field was a ramp to take off on ( obviously you couldn’t see this in the film ) . The jump in the film was made by bud Elkins , who did most of the stunts in bullit , including the car chase. This was done early am when Steve was still asleep. The reason for this was that he wrecked a few mustang gear boxes and ford motor company wouldn’t donate more cars. So bud had to do the driving before Steve awoke, when he did, the shot was in the can. The driver of the dodge was a real time actor /stunt man.

Don April 6, 2014 at 2:46 pm

Have a look at: http://www.thegreatescapelocations.com for details of all the locations and maybe join the tour on the 4th August 2014

Don

vil Jit May 23, 2014 at 10:39 pm

Ed, you shattered a cherished belief. Please document your proof. Steve could’ve and would’ve done the jump but the realist in me notes it was not one unbroken take. I figgered the lawyers would say,
“No WAY with the main talent!” Not to fault many other actors, of course. I liked James Garner and the blind counterfeiter.

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