Touched by a Star by Tony Piazza
Most thirteen-year-olds see their heroes only on the movie screen or in books. I was fortunate to meet my hero in person. I’m talking about the legendary actor Steve McQueen, and I met him in 1968 during the filming of Bullitt,. the film that defined the Movie Car Chase.
Now, forty-four years later, I wrote about that experience in an e-book called Bullitt Points: Memories of Steve McQueen and the Making of Bullitt.. In addition to my experiences on location, the book includes newly researched material and an interview from a man who was present when McQueen was learning to drive high-performance race cars. I’ve also included some rare personal photographs. The Introduction was written by longtime McQueen fan and popular KVEC 920AM talk show host, Dave Congalton.
In June of 2012, I was invited to talk about Bullitt Points at “The Friends of Steve McQueen Car Show” in Chino Hills, California. The car show was founded five years ago by Ron Harris to raise money for the California Boys Republic, one of McQueen’s favorite charities This year the car show’s Steve McQueen-related theme was Bullitt. The event was held on the BoysRepublic schoolgrounds–on the same field that Steve McQueen once played ball. McQueen was admitted to the Boys Republic as a 14-year-old student, and he often credited his stay for turning his life around. His chaoltic formative years drove him to the streets and gangs, but spending time (reluctantly at first) at the school changed him forever.
Steve McQueen’s first wife, Neile, took the stage prior to my presentation at the show. She tearfully described the young McQueen leaving the school with only the shirt on his back, a pair of jeans and a tattered suitcase. Years later, after they were married and he was successful, she spied him preparing for one of his frequent appearances at the school. She asked him why he was dressing so nicely. He said it was because “he wanted to show the boys what they could become.”
Piazza at event
I met and talked with some of the Boys Republic students when I was at the car show, and believe me, the school does make a difference. In fact, I couldn’t leave without a real commitment to help. Therefore, all profits from the sales of my e-book will go to The Boys Republic. I don’t want a cent. Ninety-nine cents isn’t much, considering people pay $3.50 for a latte. Think what a difference it could make to a troubled youth and what a wonderful investment we’ll be making towards a better, more productive society. I can’t think of a better tribute to this boy’s hero, Steve McQueen.
Tony Piazza and Chad McQueen (courtesy of Bergstroms Photography)
Download the book at: www.bullittpoints.com
Tony Piazza is author of the 1930s Hollywood murder mystery novel, “Anything Short of Murder,” which had its roots on the TCM fan website. His next novel, “The Curse of the Crimson Dragon” was released early 2012 and is now available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble websites. He was an actor/extra during the 1970s and worked with such legends as Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, and Karl Malden. His non-fiction e-book “Bullitt Points” is an in depth look at the making of “Bullitt” from a person who was there. Look for it where fine books are sold, or at the link posted above. All profits go to the Boys Republic charity.