×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Celebrities take field for a good cause

Hollywood Stars charity game has storied history

From Willie Aames to Daphne Zuniga — and another double-A ballplayer named Army Archerd — hundreds upon hundreds of celebrities have played in the annual Hollywood Stars charity game at Dodger Stadium.

The game has roots dating back to the 1930s, thanks to Danny Goodman, a man who planted his feet in baseball and entertainment. Goodman was head of promotions of the Hollywood Stars minor league team and the Pacific Coast League, and also managed concessions for a number of major-league teams across the country.

“He was an original member of the West Coast Friars Club — in fact, his best friend was Ronald Reagan,” says longtime publicist and TV producer Joe Siegman. “Those early games were usually members of the Friars Club playing against each other. Danny told me once one of the more popular formats was the bad guys against the good guys — the guys who played heavies like James Cagney, Edward G. Robinson, Humphrey Bogart, against whoever the good guys were.

“Now fade out, fade in: The Dodgers move out here and he’s hired. He gets Nat King Cole, who’s also a member of the Friars Club and a major Dodger fan, to put the group of celebrities together for a Hollywood Stars game, and then gets the media to put up their all-star team, and it went on like that until the early ’80s — it was the stars against the media.”

Longtime Variety columnist Archerd, who also segued to cover the Dodgers’ first World Series game in Los Angeles in 1959, was one who made the transition.

“I was happy to have played on the team for several years,” he recently wrote at ArmyArcherd.com, “having come up from the ‘minors,’ that is, playing with celebs on the then-Hollywood Stars team(during the PCL era).”

Soon after the Dodgers moved into Dodger Stadium, Cole’s agent, Jack Gilardi (now executive vice president at ICM) and Siegman took over the heavy lifting for the Hollywood Stars game and continued for nearly four decades. Jackie Gleason, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis were among early attendees, and in later years came the likes of Billy Crystal and Kevin Costner. TV stars also were major players.

“We had all the comedians,” Siegman says. “Milton Berle — anybody who was a Friar, they either played in the game or came out to sign autographs with the people. There was less security there in those days; there was practically no security.

“We used to do all kinds of comedy stunts that we planned ahead: running bases the wrong way, dressing up one of the Dodgers in a Hollywood Stars uniform and sending him out to pitch, like Sandy Koufax.”

Siegman and Gilardi’s involvement with the charity game ended shortly after the McCourt family bought the Dodgers in 2004. Since that time, the affair has morphed into a softball game (this year’s takes place Saturday). While the celebrities don’t recall Hollywood’s glory days, the Hollywood Stars game remains a charity event, with proceeds from an auction this week going to the Dodger Dream Foundation, which fosters opportunities for youth in Greater L.A.

Popular on Variety

More Scene

  • Taika Waititi Jojo Rabbit Premiere

    Why Director Taika Waititi Decided to Play Adolf Hitler in 'Jojo Rabbit'

    “Fox Searchlight blackmailed me into doing it,” Taika Waititi told Variety of playing Adolf Hilter in “Jojo Rabbit” at the film’s premiere at American Legion Post 43 on Tuesday night in Hollywood. Staying mum when asked which other actors had been on his wish list to play the role, Waititi explained why he eventually decided [...]

  • Jessica Biel Limetown Premiere

    Why 'Limetown' Star & Producer Jessica Biel Thought the Show Was Based on a True Story

    In a world of increasingly outlandish headlines, the story behind “Limetown” — in which an entire community in rural Tennessee disappears overnight — seems plausible. Even Jessica Biel, who executive produces and stars in the Facebook Watch television adaptation of the hit 2015 podcast, was initially convinced that it was real. “I just thought I [...]

  • Yahya Abdul-Mateen II Watchmen

    Yahya Abdul-Mateen II Talks 'Watchmen,' 'Matrix 4': 'I'm Not Nervous At All'

    Yahya Adbul-Mateen II is facing some serious pressure. The actor is in the middle of a massive career surge, taking on roles in HBO’s “Watchmen” and the upcoming “Matrix 4” — and with those roles, the expectations of their fans.  “I have the responsibility of upholding something that was already done while also bringing in [...]

  • David Lindelof Watchmen Premiere

    'Watchmen' Creator Damon Lindelof Weighs in on Martin Scorsese's Marvel Criticisms

    Damon Lindelof disagrees with Martin Scorsese about his recent claims that Marvel movies don’t qualify as cinema. The director’s proclamation, along with the polarized critical reception of “Joker,” are the latest salvos in a long history of questioning comic book movies’ place in cinematic history. The lingering question: Can superhero fare be considered “high art?” [...]

  • Anne Hathaway Modern Love

    Anne Hathaway Talks Mental Health Awareness, Playing a Bipolar Woman on Amazon's 'Modern Love'

    In Amazon Prime’s upcoming “Modern Love,” Anne Hathaway sheds light on an important facet of living with mental health issues, playing a bipolar woman who struggles with dating. “We’re all becoming more sensitive, wiser and more cognizant of gentility, and especially emotional gentility. I think those conversations are starting to happen. And I think the desire [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content