The golden age of Hollywood conjures up iconic images of glamour and opulence, propelling actors and actresses alike into the dizzying heights of stardom. Think the smouldering gaze of Veronica Lake or the debonair charm of Humphrey Bogart. But perhaps what is less well known about this renowned era in film, is the unfaltering presence of dogs amongst their human counterparts. It may come as a surprise to learn that Toto, Judy Garland’s beloved pooch in the Wizard of Oz, earned more in a week than any munchkin on set.
Hollywood Dogs, set to be released in hardback copy by ACC Publishing Group (release date TBA), is the latest offering in the series honouring our predilection for all things Hollywood (Hollywood Unseen and the forthcoming Hollywood Cool). Courtesy of the John Kobal Foundation, Hollywood Dogs showcases a splendid and often humorous array of never before seen photos of Hollywood titans, candidly caught cuddling up to their canine friends, demonstrating how man’s best friend often upstaged their human co-stars.
The photographs employed throughout the volume, – often accompanied by curious details of the image’s background provided by Catherine Britton- perfectly illustrate the importance of our four-legged friends in Hollywood. Bogart is captured with his favourite family Boxer Harvey, whilst Audrey Hepburn is snapped transporting her Yorkshire terrier, aptly named Mr Famous, around set in her bicycle basket. Publicists and marketing directors soon realised stars photographed better with dogs, mellowing the temperament of the most infamous star – as depicted in a photo of notoriously hard-to-handle, Lee Marvin, caught imitating his dog.
Hollywood Dogs illustrates how dogs were utilised to humanize stars, who may have appeared far removed from everyday life, in the extravagant world of Hollywood. Through the genuine joy of Elizabeth Taylor squealing with delight whilst washing her cocker spaniel, or the sheer playfulness of Tony Curtis caught joking with his bemused looking pup, the reader glimpses the sincere love between Hollywood actors and their dogs. Helping to portray a lighter side to these formidable stars.
Beloved dogs from the world of film also feature in the book, such as Rin Tin Tin, who supposedly gained more votes for the Academy Award for Best Actor than any other actor nominated, or Lassie who earned his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
With its collection of striking black and white photos and insightful anecdotes, Hollywood Dogs makes for a delightful read.
Words / Katie Shuff