Hey guys it’s Maddie and today we are super excited to show you guys the next episode of our Trucking Culture series, which covers all kinds of music, movies, and other media that have made a major impact on the trucking industry. In today’s episode #8, we will be “movin’” through the making of the famous trucking tv series, “Movin’ On.”
But before we begin, we sincerely hope you’ve enjoyed our Trucking Culture series so far, and we’d like to thank you all so much for making it so successful. Although in the past we have put the series behind our Patreon wall and eventually on our Jack’s Chrome Shop YouTube channel – for future episodes of the series such as this one, we will be transferring Trucking Culture to our sister channel, Chrome and Steel Radio YouTube, where we will be bringing you 2 times the amount of Trucking Culture with not just 1, but 2 episodes each month. If you wanna continue to watch even more episodes of Trucking Culture, be sure to like this video and subscribe to the Chrome and Steel Radio YouTube channel using the link in the description box below. Thanks for watching and let’s get started!
Serving as one of the original mainstream trucking television shows, “Movin’ On,” made its first major debut in May of 1974, with a made-for-television movie pilot episode titled “In Tandem.” After the successful airing of their pilot on NBC, the first episode of the full season started on the network on September 12th, 1974. Primarily created, written, and produced by Philip D’Antoni and Barry Weitz under their independently owned and operated production company, the famous freight-haulin’ show saw even greater success because of its self-entitled trucking theme song, a tune which was written and performed by the country music master himself, Mr. Merle Haggard. For more information regarding the history of the late great “Hag,” please check out his Trucking Culture video on our channel! 😊
In addition to sporting the #1 hit-single song on the Billboard Hot Country chart as their theme song, “Movin’ On” also starred a legendary line-up of cast members including the iconic Claude Akins as independent trucker, Sonny Pruitt, and the famed Frank Converse as his college-educated co-driver, Will Chandler. Akins, an American actor with a lengthy career starring in several on stage, screen, and television productions, was born on May 25th, 1926 in Nelson, Georgia, but was brought up in Bedford, Indiana, only a little over 2 hours away from our home here at Jack’s Chrome! After attending college at Northwestern University, Akins served with the United States Army Signal Corps during World War II.
Before becoming the star of the Movin’ On show, Mr. Sonny Pruitt; Akins made a name for himself acting in many major flicks such as Gunsmoke, Bonanza, and the last original Apes movie, “Battle for the Planet of the Apes.” Also, after starring as Sonny Pruitt, Akins “moved on” over to another trucking television series you might’ve heard of, called B.J. and the Bear, in 1978. For more information regarding B.J. and the Bear, please check out our episode of Trucking Culture that talks all about the classic trucking TV show! 😊 In total, Akins appeared in approximately 100 films and over 180 TV episodes in his whole career spanning 40+ years – and continued acting all the way up until his death from stomach cancer in January of 1994.
Claude’s partner in crime, fellow actor, Frank Converse, on the other hand, had a bit of a different background – born on May 22nd, 1938 in St. Louis, Missouri – Converse became an American actor at around the age of 25, after receiving a Bachelor’s degree in Drama in 1962 at what is now known as Carnegie Mellon University, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Before making his big break as lead character, Will Chandler, in the major TV series Movin’ On, Converse appeared in several other shows including Coronet Blue and N.Y.P.D.. Moving on after “Movin’ On” was over, Converse continued to work in television – appearing in several daytime soap opera’s like “As the World Turns,” and “All My Children.”
Alongside stars Akins and Converse, actors like Brooklyn-born comedian Art Metrano and former New York Giants and Los Angeles Rams football player Rosey Grier, also appeared in reoccurring roles throughout the entire show. Metrano, a.k.a. “Moose” on “Movin’ On,” was well-remembered on the show for serving as the comic nemesis of Sonny and Will, especially in the second season, with Grier, a.k.a. “Benjy,” being his right-hand man. Because of their incredible chemistry on-set, Grier and Metrano nearly snagged themselves a spin-off series – but unfortunately, when “Movin’ On” was cancelled in 1976, any plans for the supposed spin-off show subsequently fell through too.
Bouncing back to our main characters, both Sonny and Will’s characters were created by Barry Weitz, who depicted the men as a couple of modern-day cowboy-types with good hearts, but gypsy souls. Together, these 2 truckers take on driving up and down both coasts, with season 1 covering the wild, wild West Coast, and season 2 examining the opposing East Coast, – and because of this, the entire series was actually shot on location all over the United States. Included on the list of locations were places like Mobile, Alabama; Sedona, Arizona; San Diego and San Francisco, California; Charlotte, North Carolina; Norfolk, Virginia; Salt Lake City, Utah; Portland, Oregon; among many others.
After working their way up and down both coasts, the plan was to continue shooting season 3 by taking a sweep down through the south. In addition to shooting the series in real cities all across America – both actors were also required to actually drive the iconic Kenworth trucks during filming, after having been trained and also obtained their chauffeur’s license prior to the pilot. These 2 actors turned truckers created an even more authentic atmosphere by driving the rig themselves, and in the meanwhile coined the commonly called out CB radio term, to “Do it like Pruitt!” and after the series ended, to “Do it like Pruitt used to do it!”
Speaking of the pilot, the truck featured on this particular episode varies from the versions used for the rest of the regular series run. This “In Tandem” episode used a dark green 1973 Kenworth W-925 truck, whereas a 1974 Kenworth W-925 “VIT/Very Important Trucker” model was seen in both seasons 1 and 2 with a walk-in bunk, large tanks, and twin stacks. With that being said, some have insisted that the truck was changed again for season 2 – switching to a 1975 Kenworth model as opposed to a 74’. Despite the denial and dismissal of this theory by the shows Executive Producer, Barry Weitz, many fans continue to claim that the trucks used throughout the show’s 2nd season are in fact 75’ models.
Continuing on about the cult-classic Kenworth conventional model, that in part made “Movin’ On” the successful show it was – it was that mean, green Kenworth machine that cultivated a love and respect for big rigs in the hearts of countless kids and adults across the nation. Sporting a gorgeous two-tone green paint scheme with an “arrow” design, these trucks were built specifically by Kenworth for MGM Studios, and the original K-dub’s come complete with an engraved dash plaque that reads “This Kenworth is custom built for MGM Studios.” In fact, these “Movin’ On” Kenworth models were the first double sleeper offered by the company – allowing Kenworth to utilize the television series to promote their new cab configuration.
Speaking of the original trucks – it was said that 4 total trucks were given to MGM by Kenworth, with 2 trucks used for each season – and one truck always remaining “at the ready” for filming. Although some still argue 5 or 6 trucks were used in total. With that being said, it is most commonly believed that only 1 of these 4 rigs remains intact to this day. After leaving the Hollywood scene in 1975, the Kenworth rig was put to work out on the road – going through around 7 or 8 different owner-operators, as well as several different engines and paint schemes, before finally finding its home in the hands of the Sagehorn family in 2007.
Paul Sagehorn and his son, who you might recall from our B.J. and the Bear Trucking Culture video, also bought the beloved B.J. and the Bear Kenworth K100 big rig around this same time. However, within the past year or 2, Sagehorn and his son decided to sell the truck to a man named Mark, who ultimately will being restoring it once again to its original specifications seen on the show. In addition to the only remaining original rig, countless Kenworth’s have been customized to imitate the iconic “Movin’ On” model. In fact, more recently in 2019 – a company called Truck Worx created their own custom “Movin’ On” truck, a 2019 Kenworth W-900, which serves as an exact replica of the famous freight-hauler, but with modern, state-of-the-art amenities, and a bit darker paint color.
Serving as one of the show’s main characters, it was that Kenworth truck that truly made a name for the show and an impact on the industry as a whole. Sadly, the show was cancelled after only 2 seasons in March of 1976, with ratings running too dry to meet the demanding needs of the network. Because their small, independent company, D’Antoni/Weitz Television Productions also owned the show, it was far easier for the network to cancel than some huge conglomerate. Despite it’s somewhat short 2-season stint serving as the top trucking television show, “the white line is a lifeline to the nation, and men like Will and Sonny make it move.” As perhaps one of the most impactful media influences on the trucking industry, “Movin’ On” inspired many young kids who grew up during this time to become truckers with lines like “Jammin’ gears has got to be a fever, ‘cuz men become addicted to the grind. It takes a special breed to be a truck drivin’ man, and a steady hand to pull that load behind.”
Thank you so much for watching our all-new Trucking Culture series featuring Movin’ On. Before you leave, make sure you like the video, check out the other videos on our channel, and subscribe as we continue to grow our Chrome and Steel Radio YouTube account. We have already surpassed our goal of reaching 200 subscribers by the end of the month, and in fact, we are over 300 so far… so thank you all so much for your continued support for our channel and our sister channel Jack’s Chrome!
If you have any questions, comments, concerns or anything else you’d like to talk to us about; please be sure to tune into our other shows including A Daily Dose of Hope with your favorite yogi, Ms. Hope Zvara, Bullhaulin’ BS with crazy cowhaulers Jerry Novak and his son Tyler, The Chrome Corner with host Dave Coleman, and last but certainly not least… the Out on the Road show with our very own, Bill Weaver. If you’d like to stay up to date with the new projects we have coming, please follow us at @chromeandsteelradio on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Be sure to stop by the site and search through our selection of Chrome and Steel Radio shirts available in a wide range of sizes spanning from small to 5XL! Thanks for watching, we will see you next time on Chrome and Steel.