Behind the glamor of Hollywood at the racecourse

The book “Hollywood at the Races” reveals the history of horse racing industries in the US in the 20th century.
During the boom of the film industry and a new series of horse racing tracks, the easiest place to see Hollywood stars in California in the 1930s was horse racing schools.

The racetrack has been a popular gathering place for Hollywood, where many names like Fred Astaire, Barbara Stanwyck and Gregory Peck frequently appear.
But Hollywood actors, producers, and executives are not only passionate about the sport, when they participate in horse breeding, training and betting, but attending races is also a promotional tool. important for major studios, many of whom have financial interests in both film and horse racing circles.
Alan Shuback, author of Hollywood at the Races, on the intertwined history of the two industries, said: “Camera lenses at the racetrack know the stars are coming and the stars know the cameras are waiting. available. In this sense, it was a convenient marriage. ”
This flashy life was in stark contrast to California’s previous decade. In the 1920s, when movies and moviegoers began to boom, the conservative gambling and alcohol laws of the period restricted the enjoyment of wealthy actors, at least when they are on American soil.

According to Shuback, California finally learned how to “be smart”. The government legalized horse racing betting in 1933 after a referendum on the issue. That same year, this ban ended in most of the United States.

New gathering place

Shortly after the law was changed, many racecourse were opened. The three most famous racetrack of the time had a close relationship with the film industry.

Santa Anita Park, closed in 1909, was reopened in 1934 at the hands of a group of investors, including Hal Roach, film producer Laurel and Hardy. Then, in 1937, amateur Bing Crosby co-founded the Del Mar racetrack in San Diego County. Crosby even stood at the gate of the racetrack to greet those attending the opening day. A year later, Hollywood has its own race. Hollywood Park was opened by Walt Disney, Samuel Goldwyn and Warner Brothers and other shareholders.