Show Biz Author Got His Start in Fairfax

Show Biz Author Got His Start in Fairfax

Marshall Terrill has written more than 25 books and he’s not done yet.

Whether he was escaping from an island prison in “Papillion,” or in a car jumping the steep hills in San Francisco in “Bullit,” Steve McQueen was

the “King of Cool,” in his time. His achievements in the cinematic world were captured in several books by author Marshall Terrill through the years, including a recent book of McQueen photographic quotes in “Steve McQueen: In His Own Words.”

“He was such a complex character,” Terrill said.

Terrill is an author that grew up in Fairfax County and graduated from Robinson Secondary School years ago and now lives in Arizona. This latest book is the seventh book on McQueen that Terrill has written through the years on this star that built quite a reputation of coolness in the 1960s and ‘70s. “Over the years, I’ve collected so much information on him,” Terrill said, and he’s been working on this last book for seven years.

He’s matched 450 quotes with more than 500 photographs, personal documents and memorabilia, many of which are seen here for the first time. They illustrate McQueen’s early life and movie career, as well as his passion for automobiles, motorcycles and antique planes. “It’s finally finished,” Terrill said.

Steve McQueen started his career in the movies in the 1950s, starring in some westerns and getting bit parts in television shows such as Family Affair, Alfred Hitchcock Presents and the Magnificent Seven, before moving on to the movies that boosted his fame, namely The Great Escape in 1963. Later in the 1960s, there was “Bullit,” “The Getaway,” “Papillon,” and The Towering Inferno before he died in 1980. Terrill liked the fact that McQueen loved his fans and fellow actors and actresses on the set, but when it came to the movie executives, it was a different story. “He put them in their place,” he said.

If there were any stars these days to compare him to, it would be Kevin Costner or Brad Pitt, Terrill said. “Older and wiser characters,” he said.

Terrill’s writing career started with McQueen, and he’s written about him on several occasions, but he evolved into a career writer that has written other non-fiction books on Johnny Cash, Billy Graham, Pete Maravich and Elvis Prestley. He’s written 25 books in all and continues writing from his home in Arizona.

Before the Books

Terrill grew up in a military family, and his father was an Air Force officer, so they moved around as the military transfers sometimes do. He ended up living in Hayfield Farm and attending Hayfield Elementary and Secondary School until eighth grade, when the family moved out to Fairfax, where he attended Robinson Secondary, graduating in 1982, and going on to college. After graduating from the University of Phoenix in 1989, he was in the musical memorabilia business, and sold hot items like a John Lennon lithograph, and a record album signed by all four of the Beatles “with a purple pen,” he remembered. “I did quite well doing that,” he said.


Marshall Terrill

He brought up the book writing idea to his father, who encouraged him adding that sometimes you have to stick your neck out and gamble in life. It turned out to be good advice and the first book was a hit so he’s enjoyed the writer’s life ever since. “I really had to pay my dues,” he said.

Terrill currently works full time as a reporter for Arizona State University, writing for “ASU Now,” and writes books in his spare time. “I like the discipline of a full-time job and the deadlines with a book,” he said.

His father was in his 80’s and died this past summer after getting the corona virus.

Next up for Terrill is a book on the Dallas Cowboys, “America’s Team,” as they were known in the 1970’s and 1980’s. “Steve McQueen: In His Own Words,” can be ordered from