Throughout Hollywood history, motorcycles have shared the spotlight with heroes and heartthrobs as the ultimate symbol of rebellion, passion, heroism, and good ol’ American rock ‘n’ roll. The 1953 film The Wild One, starring Marlon Brando, cemented the public’s fascination with the biker rebel image and put the motorcycle on the map when it came to Hollywood films. Ever since, the motorcycle has shared the spotlight with some of Tinseltown’s greatest stars.
The Harley-Davidson Museum is home to many iconic stories starring the motorcycle.
Motorcycles of Hollywood
The motorcycle’s celluloid history dates back to the silent era. From Edgar Dearing’s familiar role as a motorcycle cop/foil in Laurel and Hardy shorts to Gael Garcia Bernal as a road-tripping Che Guevara in The Motorcycle Dairies and beyond, screen bikes are as iconic as the characters who ride them.
Motorcycle Movie Myth
Laszlo Benedek’s film "The Wild One," starring Marlon Brando, is generally credited with cementing the image of the motorcyclist, and the Harley-Davidson motorcycle rider in particular, as a lawless, violent rebel. The fact that Brando rode a Triumph in the film didn’t matter, nor did the fact that the film contained no profanity. America drew the conclusions that it wanted to, and the image was set.
Parallel Twin Cruiser
Triumph’s Thunderbird first landed on North American shores in 1946 and received rave reviews from motorcyclists for its styling, agility and speed. The Thunderbird quickly found its way into homes and movies as motorcyclists enthusiastically flocked to the roadways and the machine appeared in major motion pictures including "The Wild One" with Marlon Brando.