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TRUCKING TURNCOATS​

Sam Walters unearths five famous figures who incomprehensibly found something better to do than driving a truck…

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#5 Charles Bronson

At #5 is Charles Bronson, star of such films as the Sergio Leone classic Once Upon A Time in the West and Michael Winner’s Death Wish. Not to be confused with Charlie Bronson: the British hard bastard and prisoner currently kept in solitary confinement and subject of the recent film Bronson. (He actually changed his name to Charles Bronson to be more like the Hollywood tough-guy.)

 

The child of Lithuanian parents, Charles Bronson started working in a coal mine at the age of ten, following his father’s death. Rumour has it his family were so poor that he once had to wear his sister’s dress to school.

 

During the Second World War Bronson started driving trucks for the US Military. He proceeded to become an aerial gunner and received a Purple Heart, the American Medal awarded to those wounded or killed during service. Following his real life heroism, he gradually worked his way into the film industry and brought his heroics to the silver screen.

#4 Viggo Mortenson

Fighting his way to fourth place is Viggo Mortenson, or the sword swinging Aragorn for Lord of the Rings (the one who isn’t the pretty-boy, and isn’t the dwarf).

 

Born in New York to an American mother and a Danish father, Mortenson spent his childhood moving between America and Denmark.

 

After high school in America, he returned to Denmark and became a truck driver. He was based in Esbjerg, a sea-port on the south-western coast of Denmark. However, he eventually neglected the lorry drivers’ fraternity and again returned to New York. He studied for a degree in Spanish at St Lawrence University and then went on to act.

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#3 Chris Tarrant

Chris Tarrant did various jobs before becoming a trivia mogul, among them was long-distance lorry driver.

 

He also worked as a teacher for six months, during which time he lived in a mini-van on the school grounds and had his post delivered to the front passenger window.

 

After this he went on to present TISWAS, the kids Saturday morning TV show that also featured Lenny Henry. Later he presented Man O Man in which he got to shove men into a swimming pool. Perhaps most famously though, he asked people: “is that your final answer” on Who Wants to be a Millionaire.

 

Despite his quiz show prowess, he was ranked number 99 on BBC3’s The Most Annoying People of the Year 2007… what a shame he left his trucking roots behind.

#2 Sean Connery

 

“The name’s Stobart… Eddie Stobart.” Yes, at number 2 is Sean Connery, the third film star to make our top 5. He too drove lorries before his dashing looks and charming scottishness took him in another direction.

 

Originally a milkman in Edinburgh, Connery went on to join the navy. There he had his love of Scotland tattooed onto his body so he wouldn’t forget where he lived.

 

After leaving the navy for medical reasons, and successfully using his tattoo to find his way home, he went on to drive lorries. Then he started body-building and placed third in the 1950 Mr Universe contest.

 

In 1962 he played James Bond in Dr. No and the rest is history. He continued the role in a further six Bond films and is regarded by many to be the original and best James Bond.

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Here's the moment you’ve been waiting at least two minutes for - Truck and Driver’s most famous ex-trucker is… The King...

#1 Elvis Presley

Before he rose to the status of rock royalty, Elvis drove trucks for a living. It may well have been on the road that Elvis learnt his trade: crooning and eating peanut butter. It is certain that his ducktail hair-style was the fashion for lorry drivers of the Deep South.

 

Elvis was apparently told at one audition to stick to the day-job, but having come fifth in a singing competition as a youngster, and winning $5 in the process, he was not to be discouraged. Honing his skills in the laundry room of a Memphis public housing development, the shy boy continued to play “hillbilly” music and express himself through his guitar.

 

Appropriately enough he drove for Crown Electric Company, a Maryland based company that still exists today. Elvis’ first recording was in 1956 with the song Heartbreak Hotel. From there he left the open road behind him and went on to revolutionise music and culture.

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October 2009