Crispin Garcia, who runs the famous The
Sand Pebbles website, has added an interview with
James Garner where he talks about Steve McQueen. Cris makes a noteworthy
observation about the interview. He states:
"What I found
interesting in the Garner interview is that he contradicts Penina Speigel's
account in his book where he stated that McQueen first found out about Grand
Prix from reading a newspaper. Although McQueen may have been upset on seeing
the story in the newspaper it wasn't because he didn't already know."
Crispin also adds,"Neile
McQueen supports the story in her book 'My Husband, My Friend'."
The interview can be viewed by clicking
How the story appears in the book:
McQueen: The Untold Story of
a Bad Boy in Hollywood
by Penina Spiegel
Part of the reason for Steve's
unhappiness during the making of The Sand Pebbles stemmed from a
personal defeat. He hadn't been in China very long when he picked up a copy of
the Hong Kong English language newspaper to see a photo of his friend and
rival James Garner in a race car.
And went berserk.
John Sturges and Steve had planned to start Day of the Champion immediately
after completion of The Sand Pebbles. Delays in that film's schedule
caused their plans to be postponed. In the meantime, James Garner was also
planning a racing film. "It became a life- or-death issue," says
Robert Relyea, "to the point of personal insults. A rather ugly fight to
see who got onscreen first." That photo of Garner was an announcement of
a new film, called Grand Prix, to be directed by John Frankenheimer and
shot on location in Monaco. Apparently it would be James Garner, also an
actor/racer, who would star in the definitive racing film, the first ever by
an actor/ racer.
When Steve saw that story, he erupted. "He went wild. Just nuts,"
says publicist Rupert Allan.
Bud Ekins, who knew both Steve McQueen and James Garner very well, says of the
two: "McQueen was faster, but he'd ride too hard and break down. Garner
was slower, but he'd get there."
This time Garner got there first. It was questionable whether the market would
support one racing film, let alone two. And coming in second had never been to
Steve's liking. Day of the Champion was aborted.