Raised in Slater, Missouri by a grandmother and great-uncle
Ran away to California to live with mother and stepfather
Moved with mother to Greenwich Village in NYC; lived with gay neighbor
Served in US Marine Corps as a tank driver
Feature debut in small role of Fidel in Robert Wise's "Somebody Up There Likes Me", starring Paul Newman
Broadway debut, replacing Ben Gazzara as Johnny Pope in "A Hatful of Rain"; fired after six weeks
Attracted attention for his first starring turn in "The Blob", a campy classic of cheap 1950s sci-fi
Introduced character of Josh Randall in episode of "Trackdown", starring Robert Culp
Starred as bounty hunter of few words Josh Randall in CBS series, "Wanted: Dead or Alive"
Staged an "accident" in order to get out of TV series commitment to act in a feature
First film with director John Sturges, "Never So Few"
Sturges' "The Magnificent Seven" reinforced him as a laconic loner in action
Formed Solar Productions
Developed his screen persona further as a surly, rebellious, busted NCO in Don Siegel's "Hell Is for Heroes"
Reteamed with Sturges, soaring as the motorcyle-riding American amidst mostly Brits in "The Great Escape"
Took 18-month sabbatical from acting in order to pursue hobby of racing
Competed on USA team in motorcycle race
Acted the title role in Norman Jewison's "The Cincinnati Kid"
Played "Nevada Smith", directed by Henry Hathaway
Second film with Wise, "The Sand Pebbles"; nominated for Best Actor Oscar
Cast against type as the suave mastermind of Jewison's "The Thomas Crown Affair"
Offered a superb performance as as rough, surly cop "Bullitt", particularly behind the wheel for one of the screen's all-time best car chases through streets of San Francisco
Ventured into (William) Faulkner country for "The Reivers"
Returned behind the wheel for "Le Mans"; film was a pet project that began with no script and John Sturges at the helm; Sturges dropped out after shooting many racing sequences
Teamed with Sam Peckinpah for two pictures, the captivating rodeo comedy-drama "Junior Bonner" and "The Getaway", an enjoyable film built around a chase
Inspired performance as "Papillon", the man who defies solitary confinement, madness and aging to become a wistful genius of survival
Presided over listless all-star project, "The Towering Inferno"; reteamed onscreen with Paul Newman
Starred in Arthur Miller's adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's "An Enemy of the People" (directed by George Schaefer); film sat on shelf for years and received only limited distribution
First disgnosed with cancer caused by exposure to asbestos
Sick with cancer, made his final two films, "Tom Horn" (bad) and "The Hunter" (perhaps his worst movie), playing a bounty hunter in each