Looking Back into the Life of Ed ‘Big Daddy’ Roth
Ed ‘Big Daddy’ Roth is an American custom car painter, cartoonist, and pinstriper who was a key figure in Kustom Kulture and hot rod movement.
He was born on March 4, 1932, in Beverly Hills, California, and grew up in Bell, California, attending Bell High School, where he studied auto shop and art.
He was inspired by Henry Ford, the founder of Ford Motor Company to get into autoworks.
He drew the original Rat Fink due to his hate for Mickey Mouse, and the character soon became the symbol of the entire Kustom Kulture in the 1950s.
Little Jewel, was Roth’s first entry into the Ed Roth custom car scene but his creation, Outlaw, was what caught people’s eyes.
Outlaw, the custom fiberglass custom hot rod was featured in the 1960 January issue of Car Craft and also on custom car and hot rod shows.
He led the 1960s music group Mr.Gasser & the Weirdos, and released a two-cd set album containing three LPs and their original artwork.
His various hot rod builds includes Tweedy Pie, Road Agent, Rotar, Mail Box, Orbitron, and twin Ford engined Mysterion.
His hot rod build, Surfite was featured in the movies, ‘Beach Blanket Bingo’ and ‘Village of the Giants.’
The Revell company built plastic models of his custom cars in 1962 and later made plastic models of Rat Fink, and Mr.Gasser.
He started his publication in the mid-1960s, which was the first magazine ‘Choppers’ to feature custom motorcycles.
When Mattel introduced Hot Wheels in 1968, Roth’s Beatnik Bandit was one of the first 16 car toys produced by the company.
In 1959, Ed had opened his shop in Maywood, where many musicians, police officers, FBI agents and Hollywood personalities would visit.
But after a dispute with a biker club, he burned his biker posters and left the lifestyle behind, which caused the shop to close its door in 1970.
He was married four times during his lifetime. His fourth wife, Ilene, helped him join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1974.
He died on April 4, 2001, due to a heart attack.
He was heavily involved in social work for the church, and in his honor, his wife founded Ed Roth Museum.
His son, Darryl Roth has been working on collecting and displaying his father’s art and craft in the museum located in Manti, Utah.
He was named as one of the ‘50 Who Made a Difference’ at the 50th Meguiar’s Autorama in Detroit and ‘Builder of the Year’ in 2006.