Celebrities of the 1930s, 40s, and 50s walked the red carpet, hung out in the hot clubs, and coddled their tiny dogs as much as they do today but they looked so much better doing it. The new book Hollywood at Play: The Lives of the Stars Between Takes is like flipping through a compact photo album of vintage photos of actors having fun barbecuing, bowling, and hanging out at Disneyland.
The vast trove of pictures comes from the collection of Eddie Brandt’s Saturday Matinee, a holdout video store in the valley specializing in classic films. Historians Mary Mallory and Stephen X. Sylvester have penned exhaustive tomes on studio lots and the history of the Hollywood Sign, so it’s mildly disappointing when some captions reveal little more than the actor was simply “out on the town.”
Augmenting the images with ephemera from classic entertainment venues like the Florentine Gardens and Sunset Bowling Center go a long way towards illuminating the hotspots from the golden age of Hollywood.
The rare color images of boating, surfing, and poolside shenanigans look like they were shot for fan magazines and haven’t been seen in generations. So, go ahead and slather on the sunscreen and let’s go play with the stars.