Actors, athletes and mass murderers – it takes all sorts to drive lorries. With brief details of their involvement in the trade and subsequent celebrity, here is a countdown of the top 10 stars who worked as lorry drivers before they were famous, with varying degrees of success.
# 10 Chris Tarrant:
This radio and television presenter, best known for hosting the TV game show ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?’, pursued a number of jobs before finding his feet in television. Tarrant’s former roles include long-distance lorry driver, security officer and schoolteacher.
# 9 Chris Eubank:
Chris Eubank is notable for being the only member of our list to have taken up lorry driving after he become famous. October 2003 saw a politically motivated Eubank descending on Whitehall in his personal HGV to protest against the war in Iraq. The former world middleweight champion boxer ended up being arrested for blocking the entrance gates to Downing Street, driving around Parliament Square sounding his horn, with a knife in his pocket, and reversing into a delivery van.
# 8 Rock Hudson:
Hudson was a popular American film and television actor and a romantic leading man in the 1950s and 1960s. During WW II, Hudson served as a Navy airplane mechanic and after the war he was a truck driver. His size and good looks got him into movies.
# 7 Chevy Chase:
Our number seven is an Emmy Award-winning American comedian, writer, and television and film actor. Before his breakthrough as a comedian, Chase worked as a truck driver, cab driver, motorcycle messenger, waiter, busboy, construction worker, audio engineer, produce manager in a supermarket, salesman in a wine store and theatre usher.
# 6 Long Distance Clara:
The only woman on our list and, unfortunately, fictional, juggernaut-driving Clara was the star of 80s children’s cartoon ‘Pigeon Street’. Some see Long Distance Clara as an unsung feminist icon – her marriage to chef Hugo demonstrated a refreshing reversal of gender stereotypes.
# 5 Charles Bronson:
Charles Bronson was an American actor of ‘tough guy’ roles who made his name starring in a number of major Hollywood flicks including ‘The Great Escape’ and ‘The Dirty Dozen’. Before becoming famous, Bronson was drafted into the army and was assigned to the Air Corps in 1943. He started as a truck driver and then trained as a pilot, winning awards for good service.
# 4 Richard Pryor:
Pryor was the first African American stand-up comedian to speak candidly to mixed audiences using the language and jokes of the black community. He worked in numerous jobs before finding fame, including truck driving and meatpacking.
# 3 Liam Neeson:
Liam Neeson is a movie star most well known for his role as Oskar Schindler in the 1993 blockbuster ‘Schindler’s List’. Irish-born Neeson once worked as a truck driver as well as a forklift operator for Guinness, an assistant architect and an amateur boxer.
# 2 Sean Connery:
This retired Scottish actor is best known for starring as James Bond in seven Bond films. Heart-throb Connery joined the Royal Navy after leaving school but was discharged on medical grounds. He went on to a succession of jobs, including lorry driver, labourer and lifeguard.
# 1 Elvis Presley:
The American singer, musician, actor and cultural icon took up truck driving as one of his jobs after graduation. The future ‘King’ drove a truck for the aptly named ‘Crown Electric Company’. Presley even took up wearing his hair longer with a ‘ducktail’ – the style of truck drivers at the time. A musician for whom a young Elvis Presley auditioned advised him to ‘Stick to driving a truck, because you’ll never make it as a singer’.
The Mass Murderer – Peter Sutcliffe:
Quite possibly the most evil and deranged presence in the history of lorry driving, the ‘Yorkshire Ripper’ is far too nasty to make it into our top 10. Between 1975 and 1984, this lorry driver and former gravedigger killed 13 women in a five-year reign of terror before being sentenced to a minimum of 30 years in jail. On his arrest, Sutcliffe claimed that God had told him to go out and kill prostitutes. A sad blemish on the good name of lorry driving.
Celebrities who were lorry drivers before they were famous – a heady mixture of the talented, the eccentric, the unpleasant and the downright brilliant. Who knows what magical creatures are sitting behind the wheels of our country’s lorries today?