Steve McQueen had a hit Western series, Wanted: Dead or Alive, and he wanted the world to know he was the only "real" man on television in the late Fifties. To stir the pot, he called other Western actors out and sort of belittled their shows.
The 1959 Tampa Bay Times article, titled "Mr. Mahoney challenges Mr. McQueen," that mentions the incident didn't say whether McQueen was joking or actually wanted to create beef with his fellow Western actors.
The article did say, though, that Yancy Derringer's Jock Mahoney had a lot to say in response to McQueen's bold statement. "I read the quotes, and I've got a hunch that if you were to stack Steve McQueen against a big old boy like Chuck Connors (The Rifleman), Clint Walker (Cheyenne) or Rory Calhoun, Mr. McQueen would be the Mc-Queen of the group," Mahoney responded.
Mahoney even mentioned a survival test between him and the then 27-year-old Wanted: Dead or Alive star that consisted of them going to the country's wilderness, each with one knife.
"I have a hunch that after two days, I'd be carrying Mr. McQueen on my back," he added.
McQueen probably made the statement to promote his show, or he actually thought his series was better than any Western show at the time. Which, it's normal to speak highly of yourself and praise your work; however, let the work speak for itself. Belitting your competition can turn into something unnecessary and massive, and as you can see, Jock Mahoney was ready for a battle.
Wanted: Dead or Alive only had three seasons, but it was in its first season when McQueen made his bold statement. The series did become a classic that many generations turn to when they want to watch a good Western show.
Another reason for the actor's cockiness could be his experience before snagging his own show. McQueen was on Broadway and the big screen.
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