The story behind the glamorous Hollywood Cricket Club
In 1932, $30,000 was raised to build a clubhouse and English grass seed was imported for the pitch. Over the next twenty five years, the Hollywood Cricket Club was the epicentre of the British film colony in Los Angeles.
It was the only place to be seen if you were an aspiring British actor in the heyday of Hollywood. So who made up the Hollywood Cricket Club and what were their stories? Actor Jim Carter has been taking a closer look at the glamorous club in Howzat for Hollywood.
P.G. Wodehouse, the highest paid scriptwriter in Hollywood at the time, took the minutes at their first meeting. Everyone from Boris Karloff to Errol Flynn and Laurence Olivier turned up to play for them. Meanwhile, Elizabeth Taylor and Olivia De Havilland were in the pavilion preparing the cream teas.
Here are a just a few of the notable names from the team...
What was the Hollywood Cricket Club?
The founder and president of the Hollywood Cricket Club
The founder of the Hollywood Cricket Club and the self-styled viceroy of the British colony in Hollywood acted in over 80 films. Sir Charles Aubrey Smith captained England in a test match against South Africa in 1889 and was known for his eccentric “round the corner” bowling style. His bushy eyebrows, beady eyes, handlebar moustache and towering presence made him instantly recognisable, and he featured in 113 films during a 30 year career. He was knighted in 1944. Smith commanded any visiting British actors to play for the team.
Monster wicket keeper Boris Karloff
The British-born actor was best known for portraying the monster in the Frankenstein films in the 1930s. He was the long-time wicket-keeper of the Hollywood Cricket Club, but his bandy legs made him susceptible to being given out “leg before wicket”.
Best known as Dr Watson in fourteen Sherlock Holmes adventures between 1939 and 1946, “Willie” was best known for his colourful language on the field of play, and his inability to run between the wickets after eleven machine gun bullets were removed from his leg during World War One.
The swashbuckling hero, most memorable for his performance as Captain Blood was known for turning up to games either late or inebriated. He was popular with team-mates as well as the female admirers, who turned up in droves whenever he was playing.
Although his father was a county cricketer, Olivier never made it beyond his house team. He was mobbed by adoring fans on his arrival in Hollywood in 1933, and found a pair of flannels in his hotel room, with a note from club president C.Aubrey Smith informing him that net practice was at 9am!
The author of the Jeeves and Wooster books, was rumoured to be the highest paid writer in Hollywood in the 1930s, despite never penning a successful film! He took the minutes at the very first Hollywood Cricket Club meeting, and occasionally kept score at their matches at Griffith Park.
She was the child star of National Velvet in 1944, and became the pin-up girl for the British community in Los Angeles. She spent many lazy afternoons on the boundary at Griffith Park, and was featured serving cream teas in a celebrated Life magazine pictorial on the club.
The British-born actor William Henry Pratt, better known by his stage name Boris Karloff, was best known for portraying Frankenstein.