RVs In Popular Culture

Motor vehicles equipped with the amenities of home have been around since 1910 as more Americans became accustomed to owning cars and traveling around the U.S. by automobile.

The Long, Long Trailer

The Long, Long Trailer

Recreation vehicles and RV travel has been depicted in popular culture as a topic of much interest and yearning for over 60 years.

1953: Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz starred in the movie, The Long, Long Trailer. The trailer gleams and the film is dedicated to a new phenomenon: the ability to move your house around the country whenever, wherever you want.

Nicky and Tacy are to be married. Nicky wants to save up money for a house, but Tacy dreams of starting off with their own home on wheels—a trailer. After the two are hitched, they hitch up their trailer and begin their honeymoon. The humor comes from several disastrous adventures the couple has while traveling including Tacy’s awkward attempt to cook dinner in a moving trailer, and a cliffhanging ride through the mountains that nearly destroys their marriage.

1960: Author John Steinbeck drove 10,000 miles around the United States with a poodle, a trip chronicled in the book Travels With Charley: In Search of America. Steinbeck bought a GMC pickup and built a camper cabin on the back and dubbed the vehicle Rocinante, named after Don Quixote’s horse.

His travels started in Long Island, New York, and roughly followed the outer border of the U.S., from Maine to the Pacific Northwest, down into his native Salinas Valley in California, across to Texas, up through the Deep South, and then back to New York.

Travels With Charley

Travels With Charley

1967: CBS TV correspondent Charles Kuralt drove off in a motorhome to document stories of life in America for On the Road. When he persuaded CBS to let him try out just such an idea for three months, it turned into a quarter-century project. On the Road became a regular feature on The CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite in 1967. Kuralt hit the road in a motorhome (he wore out six before he was through) with a small crew and avoided the interstates in favor of the nation’s back roads in search of America’s people and their doings.

1970: Recognizing the popularity of the outdoors, Mattel introduced the Malibu Barbie Country Camper, one of the most popular Barbie accessories of all time. The bright orange motorhome was equipped with outdoor furniture, kitchen, and pop-out tent.

Barbie’s camper has changed in both color and design through the years. Vintage styles include: Barbie Star Traveler Motorhome (1976), Barbie Mobile Camper (1988), Barbie Western Fun Motorhome (1990), and Barbie Pink World Glamour Camper (2009).

1985: Lost in America is a 1985 comedy starring Albert Brooks as a disgruntled adman, who “takes off to find himself in America.

Barbie Country Camper

Barbie Country Camper

David and Linda Howard are typical 1980s yuppies in Los Angeles who are fed up with their lifestyle. The Howards decide to sell their house, liquidate their assets, drop out of society, and travel the country in a Winnebago motorhome. They leave L.A. with nest egg of a hundred thousand dollars, but don’t get very far. The plan goes awry when Linda loses all their savings playing roulette at the Desert Inn Casino in Las Vegas.

2002: About Schmidt is a 2002 comedy-drama starring Jack Nicholson in the title role. The film follows Schmidt as he retires from his pedestrian job, followed by the death of his wife for whom he had lost affection. He embarks on a road trip to his estranged daughter’s wedding only to discover more about himself and life than he ever expected. When Schmidt gets into his 35-foot Winnebago Adventurer, which he and his wife Helen thought to use in his retirement, events compel him to reflect on his life with a sense of futility that lasts until the final moments of the film.

2006: Robin Williams starred in the 2006 family adventure-comedy, RV: The Movie.

RV: The Movie

RV: The Movie

An overworked executive, Bob Munro persuades his wife and children to give up their Hawaiian vacation for some family bonding on a cross-country RV trip to the Colorado Rockies. But it’s all a ruse. Bob is actually going there to attend a business meeting. Through a series of misadventures, including constant run-ins with an overly friendly troupe of full-time RVers, Bob inadvertently learns the true meaning of family.

2008: Breaking Bad is widely regarded as one of the greatest television series of all time. This crime drama show originally aired on the AMC network for five seasons, from January 20, 2008 to September 29, 2013. By its end, the series was among the most-watched cable shows on American television. Breaking Bad featured perhaps the most notorious and famous Winnebago in recent years with meth lab in the back of the motorhome.

Worth Pondering…

Dad, the RV’s rolling away.

—Cassie Munro in RV: The Movie

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