Steve McQueen’s performance in 'The Blob' got him his role on 'Wanted Dead or Alive'
He went from alien goo to capturing outlaws in less than a year.
Like many young actors hoping to break into the entertainment industry, future star Steve McQueen tried to book anything he could. His very first onscreen role was a part in a 1952 half-hour television short for the Bell Telephone Company that demonstrated the convenience of having multiple phones in one house.
Over the next few years, McQueen continued to land small roles in TV. He made quick, uncredited appearances in the movies Girl on the Run and the Paul Newman starrer Somebody Up There Likes Me.
In the summer of 1957, 27-year-old McQueen was cast as teenager Steve Andrews in what seemed like just another throwaway acting job. But it was a lead role, something any struggling actor would take. Little did he know that the movie would be wildly more successful than anyone thought and even grab the attention of actor-turned-television producer Dick Powell. That pivotal, breakout film was, of course, beloved schlocky horror hit, The Blob.
McQueen, credited as "Steven McQueen," was cast opposite Aneta Corsaut in her first big screen role (she appears in the credits as "Aneta Corseaut"). Just a few years later, Corsaut would take on her most famous character, Helen Crump on The Andy Griffith Show, Andy's love interest and eventual wife.
In The Blob, McQueen and Corsaut fight the titular monster after it falls from space and starts taking over their small town. Despite the cheesy premise, McQueen's forceful and determined performance, not to mention movie star good-looks, caught the eye of Dick Powell.
Powell, co-founder of Four Star Television, watched an early cut of the film and knew its star had potential. His company was producing the western Trackdown at the time and an upcoming episode featured a bounty hunter character that Powell thought McQueen would be great for.
The episode aired in early 1958, months before The Blob was scheduled to hit theaters. The network thought McQueen's character, Josh Randall, worked so well they decided to order a spinoff for that fall and Wanted Dead or Alive was born.
The classic western that introduced McQueen to the American public actually aired its first episode four days before The Blob came out in the U.S. in September 1958. The series premiere also featured another young actor on the verge of becoming a household name — Michael Landon.