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Hollywood legend. Risqué sex symbol. Outspoken and bawdy. Call her what you like, but Mae West left an indelible mark on Hollywood screen history. But it may have taken an early RV to get her there.
West’s original splash into stardom took place, not in motion pictures, but on the hard boards of the live stage. Even in her early career, she created quite a stir with her, shall we say, forward approach to acting and controversy. She spent a few days in a New York lockup on morals charges, all based on her stage performance.
But Hollywood needed starlets, and it wasn’t easy in the 1930s to find real talent knocking on the doors in California. Paramount wanted West, and they wanted in her in a big way. How could they entice the stage star away from the East Coast to the West? In addition to money, offer a few other inducements. Included in Paramount’s offer to Mae West: A 1931 Chevrolet “House Car,” as motorhomes were then dubbed. Mae hated flying, so it’s said, so traveling about in a house car had a certain appeal.
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Mae didn’t do her own driving — a professional driver took care of that. The House Car itself had more appeal than just a chauffeur. Out back was a “porch” that allowed the star to breath in the outdoor air or greet fans. Inside was comfortable seating and a kitchen for serving up good food. No word on whether Paramount threw in a cook. Despite her shady reputation, the House Car did lack one thing modern motorhomes feature: a bedroom.
While Mae died in 1980, her old House Car still shines. You can catch a close-up view at the RV/Motorhome Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Indiana.