Riders Of The Films

By J.J. O’Connor

From the September 1944 Issue of Motorcyclist Magazine.

Do any of the movie stars ride motorcycles? They sure do. Oh, it’s just a lot of press agent hokum to get their name in the paper, you say. All right, have it that way if you wish. But we went out and saw them riding and talked to them. So here’s the convincer that the movie stars do ride motorcycles.

Having heard that their motorcycling generally was regarded as rather legendary and mostly a figment of their press agents unceasing pursuit of publicity for their clients, we decided to explode this myth once and for all and get the facts if there were any facts to get. There were-and plenty.

Clues, leads, tips and suggestions, sent us Santa Monica-ward to the Indian tepee of “Bozo” Small, because “Bozo” was credited with being the headquarters for the movie riders and the official garage for their machines.

“Is it true, ‘Bozo,’ that the movie stars ride motorcycles?” we asked.

“Is this a gag of some kind, or do you really mean it?” “Bozo” wanted to know.

Assuring him that our interest was 100% on the level and, that we were after a story if there was a story, “Bozo” started to rattle off names, at the same time pointing to machines in storage and saying “That is Randy Scott’s Indian. Over there is John Payne’s Velocette and, right alongside, is Vic Fleming’s Ariel.”

“Yes, plenty of the movie people, and the fliers as well, ride motorcycles. The best way to see for yourself is to come down here any Sunday around 11:00 a.m., when they begin to drift in to take their motors out for a spin. You’ll get a chance to meet them and talk to them and see how genuinely enthusiastic they are for the sport. In fact, they are rabid fans because, while most of them own expensive cars, they often come in from location and head straight for their motorcycles for relaxation, leaving their four-wheelers in the garage.”

Accepting “Bozo’s” invitation, we put in appearance the following Sunday at his wigwam, around noon. Here are some of those who showed up: Randy Scott, Mrs. Scott, Eddie Norris, Patric Knowles, Victor Fleming, all of the movies; Capt. Lockwood Albright, U.S. Air Corps; Vance Breese, famous test pilot; Corey Loftin, Hollywood ace stunt man; Johnny Martin, test pilot; Ted Peaso, manager of Douglas Air Lines; Al Spencer and Johnny Fargos, technical engineers; Ed. Kretz, national road race champion and hillclimber. Altogether there were about 100 riders in the party and they took off for a little informal sport in one of the numerous Hollywood canyons, where some nice tricky test hills are to be found.

At the rendezvous, where everything was strictly informal, and it was no trick at all to meet and talk to anyone and everyone, we got plenty of “low-down” on the motorcycle activities of the movie people and the fliers as well. For instance-

Randy Scott is partial to a 1941 Indian Chief and is about as ardent a motorcycle fan as you will find in a day’s search. Riding to and from his studio is almost a daily routine with Randy, in addition to frequent trips to his San Diego ranch when his picture schedule permits. Recently, he returned from an 18,000 mile overseas trip where he entertained the service men and, on his arrival, the first thing he called for was his motorcycle, despite the fact that the famed California sunshine was pretty much liquid at the time. But Randy loves to ride in the rain.

Then there is Morton Lowry, the up and coming British actor, who is keen for a 1941 Indian Sport Scout that he practically lives on. He never misses a Sunday outing with the gang and daily ferries his little pet back and forth to and from the studio. Lowry gave blase Hollywood a breath-stopper recently by going to a Monday night broadcast, all dressed up in his Sunday best, on his Scout, and proudly parked it right by the front door of the dignified Columbia radio palace on Sunset boulevard.

By J.J. O’Connor
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