It’s easy to say that McQueen was and still is the quintessential king of cool but it’s easy forget that he was a pretty simple man living an extraordinary life. ¬†1963 found McQueen at the top of his game and living a life that must have seemed out of one of his films. Following are excerpts from Life magazines pictorial of a year with the king. ¬†Images that seem to become cooler and more iconic the further we are removed from McQueen’s death in 1980.


Steve McQeen Persol

At his bungalow in Palm Springs, Steve McQueen practices his aim before heading out for a shooting session in the desert, 1963.


Steve McQueen Jaguar

Steve McQueen driving on Sunset Strip, 1963.


Steve McQueen gun

Steve McQueen and Neile Adams, his first wife, target-practice with their pistols in the California desert, 1963.


Steve McQeen desert

Steve McQueen and Neile Adams, his first wife, in the California desert, 1963.


Stev McQueen style

McQueen works out at the gym at Paramount Pictures while making the movie Love With the Proper Stranger opposite Natalie Wood, 1963.


Steve McQueen home

At his Palm Springs bungalow, Steve McQueen puts on a record, with LPs by Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins and Frank Sinatra scattered at his feet, 1963.


Steve McQueen motorcycle

Steve McQueen takes a lunch break during a motorcycle race with Bud Ekins, his friend and stuntman for The Great Escape, 1963.


Steve McQueen motorcycle

McQueen takes a deep swig of a tall, cool drink, 1963.


Steve McQueen style smoking

Steve McQueen on a camping trip, 1963.


Steve McQueen rugged

Steve McQueen in his sleeping bag on a camping trip, 1963. “This is it, man,” he told LIFE. “I’d rather wake up in the middle of nowhere than in any city on earth.”


Steve McQueen Landrover

Steve McQueen, 1963.


Steve McQueen dog

With his dog, a Malamute named Mike, by his side, Steve McQueen takes in the scenery, California, 1963.


All images courtesy of Life/Getty