An institution for racing fans since it was built in 1938, the Legendary Hollywood Park faced its demise via wrecking ball on May 31, 2015, and an era was over.
Between those two milestones much history was lived and remembered. But it all started somewhere, and this broadcast from Hollywood gossip columnist George McCall on June 9, 1938 was a preview of opening day on the 10th.
Since the actual founding and construction of Hollywood Park had so much to do with Hollywood Studio executives, it was only natural that Hollywood Park be a tribute to the people involved; Darryl F. Zanuck, Walt Disney, Samuel Goldwyn, Al Jolson, Bing Crosby and many other Hollywood notables, many of whom were on the Board of Directors.
It became the Stars playground and was one of the major attractions for tourists coming to Los Angeles all the way until the end. There was a period, from 1942-1944, that the track was closed because of the War. Over the ensuring year, the racetrack as well as buildings surrounding it had changed – fire destroyed the grandstand in 1949 and a largely rebuilt facility re-opened in 1950 and pretty stayed intact until 1984 when a move to extend the track an other 1/8 of a mile was finished in 1986.
But before the wrecking ball came and before it became a tourist attraction, Hollywood Park opened, and it was a star-studded affair. This broadcast, from the day before the actual ribbon cutting, comes from CBS Radio Affiliate KNX in Hollywood.
A milestone event, previously thought lost – a lot of footage has survived, but the sound of the opening of the race course has been elusive and this is one of the few broadcasts marking the event.
So here is that broadcast – George McCall’s Old Gold Program from Hollywood Park – June 9, 1938. Complete with interviews and Hollywood gossip of the day.