The story behind Steve McQueen’s revolver
You've seen the picture. But what's the story?
When, in 1963, famed war photographer and photojournalist John Dominis was tasked with capturing images of legendary actor Steve McQueen and his then-wife, Neile Adams, for Look Magazine, he knew he has his work cut out for him.
How could a small series of photographs show the essence of this man, an icon already-made who had one of the most notorious private lives and famous faces in the world? For Dominis, who had recently returned from documenting the Korean War, the answer was simple. The only way to capture the raw, explosive nature of this man was to put a gun in his hand.
Certain pictures find themselves reposted across social media time after time, reproduced as prints and canvases to hang on the walls of bachelor pads or looked to for style inspiration. One such of these pictures, that of Steve McQueen with one leg crossed, wearing a polo and plimsols could be the most reshared of them all.
But the story behind Steve McQueens revolver, and this iconic photo, is curious. The image didn’t even make itself into the final feature – and was instead taken while the action star was preparing for the shoot in his bungalow in Palm Springs. Other photos from the set, and the ones favoured by Look Magazine, were of McQueen and his wife shooting out in the desert near their home.
It may also not be as sexy a picture as it first looks. Although the image epitomises danger, as a responsible gun owner, McQueen’s revolver was unloaded. But the gun itself, a H&R Model 939 “Ultra Sidekick” 22 LR 9-shot revolver with a 6″ heavy barrel for you enthusiasts out there, was indeed one of McQueen’s own, and he fired it frequently.
If you want to dress like Steve McQueen in this photo, look no further. To shoot like him, a 939 in good condition these days will cost you upwards of $500.