From Big Rigs to the Big Time

Before Elvis Presley became known as the “King of Rock & Roll,” he was a truck driver, trying to help support his family.

In 1953, Presley graduated from high school in Memphis, Tenn., and soon took a job with Crown Electric Co. The 18-year-old aspiring singer drove a truck, delivering electrical supplies to construction sites.

Presley might have continued a career in trucking if he had followed the advice of a Grand Ole Opry booking manager, who suggested he “go back to Memphis and continue driving a truck for a living,” after a mediocre performance in October 1954.

Presley soon left his truck-driving job when he joined the “Louisiana Hayride,” which was his stepping-stone to international stardom.

Country-crossover singer k.d. lang once drove a grain truck. Actors John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Gregory Peck, Sidney Poitier and Desi Arnaz also piloted big rigs before their successful show business careers.

James Cameron drove a truck and a school bus before directing The Terminator and Titanic.

Utah Jazz star Karl Malone occasionally drove a truck after he became rich from his basketball career, and once owned a small trucking company. Retired Detroit Tigers pitcher Mark “The Bird” Fidrych currently owns and operates a trucking business in Massachusetts.

Several other notable entertainers came from trucking families, including Australian-born actress Toni Collette (daughter of a trucker), Scottish actor Sean Connery (father was a trucker), comedian Chris Rock (son of a truck driver), and actors Jesse L. Martin (son of a truck driver), Dick Van Dyke (son of a trucking agent), and Brad Pitt (father owned truck company).

Source: “Biography,” A&E Television Networks