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Hogging the limelight
Just like cosmetics, soft drinks and fast food, brand alignment is key and product placement crucial. The number of celebrity Harley-Davidson owners reads like an Academy Award roll call and the motorcycle itself is a star in its own right with innumerable movie appearances throughout the decades.
Cinema-goers will be quick to recall the scene from 1991’s Terminator 2 when Arnold Schwarzenegger rode the then-new Harley Davidson "Fat Boy" like he stole it. Which he did. Or 1969’s unforgettable Easy Rider, where Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper rode old ex-police Panheads converted into the famous pair of wild choppers, Captain America and Billy Bike, by Cliff Vaughs and Ben Hardy.
Movie trivia buffs will know exactly which motorcycle Marlon Brando rode in the 1953 classic, The Wild One - and it wasn’t a Harley. But notwithstanding, the star did own a black 1970 FLH Electra-Glide and it recently fetched more than $250,000 at auction.
Other high profile actors on Harley's include George Clooney (Road King), Elvis Presley (‘56 KH), Justin Timberlake (several) as well as the original ‘wild hog’, John Travolta, who owns a Fat Boy.
Many Hollywood stars are so enamoured with their brush with Harley-Davidson fame, that they have become owners. And we’re not just talking about the stereotypical tough guy either. Many no-nonsense glamour gals don’t mind their million dollar bottoms in the seat of a Harley-Davidson.
In fact the list of leading ladies astride Harley-Davidson's includes Brigitte Bardot, Elizabeth Taylor, Tina Turner, Angelina Jolie, Bree Turner, Cameron Diaz, Cher, Demi Moore, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jessica Alba, Kate Hudson, Lauren Hutton, Lindsay Wagner, Lisa Hartman Black, Pamela Anderson, Queen Latifah and Sheryl Crow.
Cashing in on the feminine appeal, who can forget the series of titillating video- and photoshoots with American supermodel, Marisa Miller, commissioned by Harley-Davidson almost ten years ago now. Instead of just being a bit of pinup decoration for the boys’ workshop or shed, the leggy blond whose credits include Sports Illustrated and Victoria’s Secret, is also an owner of a 1200 Nightster and an ambassador for the brand.
Stay tuned to the HH blog and we’ll have a closer look at some of the famous bikes and the stars who rode them.
- Rod Eime