The book “Hollywood at the Races” reveals the intertwining history of the film and 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.
Shuback also shared in a phone interview: “The stars would love to go there to gather and bet. And the studios also know that if their stars are out there, they will be appearing in Every newspaper in this country has pictures of the stars and the clothes they’re wearing, so it’s a reciprocal relationship. The press likes both. ”
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.
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 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.
According to Shuback’s research, film and horse racing are closely linked: Nearly 150 horse-racing films were released from 1930 to 1960. Horse racing also appeared in comedy, musicals. like Broadway Melody of 1938 , or investigative film The Ex-Mrs. Bradford and the thriller The Killing .
Implications and decline in attraction
However, the flip side of this flashiness is that some famous actors, including Chico Marx, have struggled with gambling addiction while participating in horse racing movies.
Mickey Rooney, one of the most lucrative stars in the 1930s and 1940s, was also on the list when participating in horse racing-related movies like Thoroughbreds Don’t Cry and National Velvet .
According to Shuback, Rooney was so obsessed with horse racing that he traveled between Los Angeles and Del Mar every day for 23 days of the August 1940 tournament. He also lost nearly $ 1 million at races that year.
Hollywood’s fascination with the racetrack continued in the 1940s and 1950s, but by the 1960s, the first-generation senior riders had retired. Stars come to new venues and will find them easier in clubs on Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles than in Del Mar.
According to Shuback, although horse racing is still popular in the US, Hollywood interest is less and less. Hollywood Park, close to the brink of bankruptcy in the 1980s, was acquired and enjoyed a brief revival before being permanently closed in 2013. This once-famous racecourse is now used to build a new stadium for the Los Angeles Rams club.