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When Hollywood came to Saratoga

Updated: May 24, 2021

Frank Capra's movie "It's a wonderful life" is one of my all time favorites and it's incredible to me that the little village of #Saratoga, CA would be on anyone's map in Hollywood. It probably had something to do with starlets from Golden Age Hollywood such as Joan Fontaine (Academy Award nominated Rebecca and winner for Suspicion) and Olivia De Havilland (Gone with the Wind) having grown up and started their acting careers there in the 1920's. In any case, #DonnaReed, who starred next to Jimmy Stewart in the movie, needed to be 'reindoctrinated' into the 'small-town' life and decided to visit. Life magazine decided to do a little photo essay for it's June 10, 1946 issue.

Who can forget lines about Clarence, Zuzu's petals'and when and when a 'bell rings an angel gets his wings'? I plan to do a little research for a follow on 'then and now' of the places in the pictures for a future post.



Meditatively lapping a vanilla cone on the Main Street of little Saratoga, California, Donna Reed rests between visits to town characters


After window shopping at Van Arsdale's Fixit Shop, Miss Reed dropped in to compare notes on her own home town and Saratoga, learned Joan Fontaine and Olivia de Havilland used to live in Saratoga


Pride of Saratoga, its only fire engine, is fondly displayed to Miss Reed by it's driver, Carl Taylor, who is also constable and gas-station operator


Town's only taxi, operated by Ted Scarlett, reminded Miss Reed of home. Once a logging town, Saratoga now deals in tourists, prunes, apricots.


In the town drugstore, she enjoys the small-town priviledge of a free look at the magazines with soda-fountain attendant, Dollie Nardie, 19.


Crossing Saratoga Creek, local fisherman's paradise, Miss Reed hoists her skirt in the manner hallowed by long usage among pretty actresses.




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