Celebrity and Checkers go hand in hand. To prove the concept, we offer for your reading pleasure some famous women and their Checkers.
Our first female celebrity Checker owner Carly Simon, the American singer-songwriter, musician and children’s author. Ms. Simon first rose to fame in the 1970s with a string of hit records. In all, Ms. Simon produced thirteen Top 40 U.S. hits.
So when you’re a big time 70’s female rock star and you have all the money in the world, what do you buy? A Rolls, Bentley or Checker? For Ms. Simon, the answer was clear, a Checker Marathon. During the late 70’s and 80’s Ms. Simon kept her Checker parked at her estate in Martha’s Vinyard in Massachusetts.
Little is known as to why Ms. Simon purchased a Checker, but she did promote its use via publicity photos. The above header photo alone demonstrates her love of Checkers.
Other promotional photos do exist and this writer remembers a brief article about Ms. Simon and her Checker in Time Magazine back in the day. Ms. Simon most likely purchased her Checker at the CMC corporate store in Brookline, Mass.
Phyllis Diller, was an American actress and stand-up comedian, best known for her eccentric stage persona, her self-deprecating humor, her wild hair and clothes, and her exaggerated, cackling laugh. It should come to no surprise that Ms. Diller owned a Checker wagon. Frankly this writer would expect nothing better suited for Ms. Diller.
The submitted photo was provided by noted Checker expert Ben Merkel. Ben and Joe Pollard supplied Ms. Diller with the parts required to keep her Checker running for a number of years. According to Ben, Ms. Diller’s owned a 1972 Checker A12W. Ms. Diller used the Checker as a shuttle from her Beverly Hills home to LAX Airport.
Ms. Lebowitz, something of a quintessential New Yorker herself, was driving it the other day in the West Village, dressed in her trademark tailored suit-jacket and jeans and chain-smoking a pack of Marlboro Lights.
Driving, she said, makes her nervous. “I just assume that every other car on the road, the person is crazy, and drunk, and has a gun,” she said, easing into traffic on the Bowery. The Checker prompted a few appreciative honks. “It’s not impossible that if you’re in the car with me for 15 minutes, someone is going to offer to buy it,” she said to a reporter, who had tagged along. “A man offered to trade me a new Mercedes for it in my last garage.”
Ms. Lebowitz bought her Checker, a pale gray 1979 Marathon, for $9,000 in 1978 with the better part of a book advance. “This was the first thing I bought, which shows how impractical I am,” she said, tossing a cigarette onto West Houston Street. “Everyone tried to dissuade me from buying it.”
She wanted a Bentley or a Rolls-Royce, which she could not afford. This was the most desirable alternative: “They also made a limousine, which was $1,000 more, and which I had to be talked out of buying, because there’s no car too big, too flashy, for Fran.”
The appeal was purely visual, she said. “It has a kind of, like, ‘car’ look, like a child’s cartoon of a car,” she said, taking a gingerly turn onto Bleecker Street. “I knew Roy Lichtenstein — you know, the painter? — and he loved these cars, because he thought it was like such a cartoon-looking car. Once I pulled up somewhere where he was, and he said, ‘You expect a family of ducks to come out of the back of this car.’ It has a very graphic silhouette.”
“The new one has nothing to do with why people like Checkers,” she added. “The reason people like Checkers is not only because they are very roomy, etc., but because Checkers have flair. O.K.? Flair has nothing to do with technology. It’s a visual thing.”
Well that’s it, three Female celebrity Checker owners. Here is a link to the full New York Times article.
Lebowitz photos by Chang W Lee