Acting legend Steve McQueen is still referred to as the "King of Cool," even 40 years after he succumbed to cancer.
Before his untimely death on Nov. 7, 1980, at the age of 50, McQueen met with Rev. Billy Graham, the world-renowned evangelist whose ministry changed the lives of hundreds of millions of people.
Greg Laurie, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California – and a lifelong Steve McQueen fan – describes the special meeting between the actor and Rev. Graham in his book, "Steve McQueen: The Salvation of an American Icon."
"Steve had mentioned to his pastor (Leonard DeWitt) how much it would mean for him to meet Billy, and as McQueen's condition worsened, Leonard picked up the phone," Laurie wrote.
"And every Sunday, we went to church. I think that was just Steve's way. He wanted to make sure he had all of his questions answered," DeWitt explained.
Doctors diagnosed McQueen with an aggressive form of cancer only months after he accepted Christ. Before McQueen flew to Mexico for surgery, he met with Graham, who gave him his personal Bible for the trip.
"Though I had never met him before, I recognized him immediately from his pictures, even though he had lost considerable weight. He sat up in bed and greeted me warmly," Laurie quoted Graham.
Before learning that he had cancer, McQueen reportedly told Graham that for several months, he had been going to church, reading the Bible, and spending time in prayer.
During their meeting, Graham gave McQueen his personal Bible and wrote a personalized note in it.
"To my friend Steve McQueen. May God bless you and keep you always. Billy Graham. Philippians 1:6, Nov. 3, 1980."
The actor told Graham, "I'll see you in heaven!"
Graham recalled, "I look back on that experience with thanksgiving and some amazement. I had planned to minister to Steve, but as it turned out, he ministered to me."
Just days after the actor and evangelist visited, McQueen died with "the Bible given to Steve by Billy Graham – his most prized possession – clutched tightly in Steve's hands," Laurie said.
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