Star Waggons and the Reinvention of the Celebrity Trailer
Have you ever watched a movie or TV show and heard the oft-repeated line “I’ll be in my trailer” spoken by one of the stars? Chances are, you’ve heard this phrase at least once. But did you know that it was one of these movie/TV stars who cornered the market on celebrity trailers? This is the story of Star Waggons and its visionary founder.
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The Star Waggons story
Back in the 1970s, one of the most recognizable faces on television was that of Lyle Waggoner. The handsome character actor had started his career on TV shows like Gunsmoke before making a big impression on The Carol Burnette Show in 1967. Waggoner is perhaps best remembered today for the role of Steve Trevor in the Wonder Woman TV show. However, Waggoner wasn’t just an actor. He was also an entrepreneur, and knew good opportunities when he saw them.
In the late 70s, during the production of Wonder Woman, Waggoner took notice of the shoddy trailers that the studio had rented for its stars to rest and prepare in. These small trailers were owned by locals and small businesses who were making plenty of cash off of renting them to stars like Waggoner.
Waggoner concocted an ingenious plan: if he bought an entire fleet of high-quality motorhomes and rented them to the studio, he could put some extra money in his pocket. Waggoner secured a bank loan and purchased his fleet. He also started a company to handle their rentals, which he named Star Waggons, a riff on his own last name. If you were wondering what was going on with that extra “g” in “Waggons,” now you know.
An immediate success
Now fully incorporated, Waggoner began renting out his motorhomes to movie studios in Hollywood. In no time at all, Waggoner’s “Waggons” were all over movie and TV sets. The company’s success was almost overnight, and Waggoner became a very rich man in very little time. “The payments were $400 a month,” he told CNBC in a 2016 interview. “And I was renting them for $400 or $500 a week.”
Within a few years of starting Star Waggons, Lyle Waggoner had amassed enough money to begin building his own branded motorhomes and trailers. Over the decades, the company’s work became a staple of Hollywood culture. These days, it’s rare to find a production setup or a backlot without a fleet of Star Waggons’ motorhomes and trailers set up.
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Star Waggons is still run by the Waggoner family, with Lyle’s sons Jason and Beau currently serving as company presidents. If you want your own high-class, fully customized movie-star trailer, you can visit their website and check out their selection. But be warned; one of these luxurious machines could run you upwards of $500,000.
Daniel DiManna hails from little Sylvania, Ohio. A graduate of Lourdes University with a degree in Fine Arts (which has thus far proven about as useful as a wet paper towel), Daniel’s hobbies/passions include film history, reading, fiction/non-fiction writing, sculpting, gaining weight, and adding more toys, posters, books, model kits, DVD’s, screen-used props, and other ephemera to his already shamefully monumental collection of Godzilla/movie monster memorabilia. His life goals include a return trip to Japan, getting a podcast off the ground, finishing his novel, and yes, buying even more monster toys. See more articles by Daniel.