1932 Olympics in Los Angeles…





By Allan R. Ellenberger


With tonight’s opening ceremonies of the Games of the XXIX Olympiad being held in Beijing, China, I thought a look at the 1932 Olympics would be appropriate. The games of the Tenth Olympiad which were held in Los Angeles from July 30 to August 14, 1932, contributed the greatest series of athletic events ever held in the United States up to that time. Here is a look at some of the highlights.



Aerial view of Olympic Stadium during the Opening Ceremony (IOC/Olympic Museum collections)




  • The crowds set records, starting with the 100,000 people who attended the Opening Ceremony
  • The 1932 Olympics were the first to last 16 days. The duration of the Olympics has remained between 15 and 18 days ever since. Between 1900 and 1928, no Summer Olympics was shorter than 79 days.
  • At the victory ceremonies, the medal winners stood on a victory stand and the flag of the winner was raised.
  • Official automatic timing was introduced for the track events, as was the photo-finish camera.
  • 14-year-old Japanese Kusuo Kitamura won the 1,500m freestyle to become the youngest male in any sport ever to earn a gold medal in an individual event.
  • Ivar Johansson, a Swedish policeman, won gold medals in both freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling. Another Swedish wrestler, Carl Westergren, won his third Greco-Roman title, each in a different division.
  • In the spirit of fair play, British fencer Judy Guinness gave up her hopes for a gold medal when she pointed out to officials that they had not noticed two touches scored against her by her final opponent, Ellen Preis of Austria.









Los Angeles, Coliseum Stadium, 30 July 1932. Opening Ceremony, Charles Curtis, US Vice-President, declares the Games of the X Olympiad open.


(Credit: IOC/Olympic Museum collections)



 ABOVE: Argentina’s Juan Carlos Zabala, winner of the marathon, ahead on the first lap of the track (IOC/Olympic Museum collections )






Crowds gather under several international flags at the Olympic Village in Baldwin Hills during the 1932 Olympics. This Olympic Village, the first ever to be built, served as the residence for the male athletes. Female athletes were housed at the Chapman Park Hotel on Wilshire Boulevard. (LAPL)



ABOVE: Los Angeles 1932, Games of the X Olympiad. Personalities and competitors in transit: (L to R) Duke KAHANAMOKU, Miss Earhart PUTMAN, Paavo NURMI, Douglas FAIRBANKS and Arthur JONATH. (Credit: IOC Olympic Museum Collections)







21-year-old American Babe Didrikson qualified for all five women’s track and field events, but was only allowed to compete in three. She won the javelin throw and set world records in the high jump and the 80m hurdles.




(Credit: IOC Olympic Museum Collections)




ABOVE: Los Angeles, August 1932. General view of the Olympic Stadium during an equestrian event at the Games of the X Olympiad.  (Credit: IOC Olympic Museum Collections)





Los Angeles, Coliseum Stadium, 14 August 1932. The IOC President, Count Baillet-Latour, closes the Games of the X Olympiad.



(Credit: IOC Olympic Museum Collections)













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6 Responses to “1932 Olympics in Los Angeles…”

  1. Melissa says:

    Absolutely brilliant! Especially loved the pix of His Royal Dougness.

    Still smiling~

  2. billy j. worth says:

    I have the visa//id card of Donald W ouglas jr for the 1932 olympics and the stadium pass to all of the event (McDonald aircraft).

    could you tell me what event he was in and if he won and medals.

    Semper Fi!
    Bill USMC

  3. Allan Ellenberger says:

    Bill, Douglas served as a member of the 1932 U.S. Olympic Yachting Crew and won the silver medal in sailing (six-meter class). Thanks.

  4. Dan says:

    Hello. Have come across a 1930s dress, w/ the olympic rings embroidered on it. Trying to find any historical reference to such an item. light green chiffon, so my guess is summer time. and the style is indeed 1930s. so perhaps 1932 LA. Can send you photos if you wish. Would like very much to find out the history. Thanks

  5. filmlover says:

    Bookmarked this. Unequivocally worth my time.

  6. John Walter says:

    Just picked up a ticket at the swap meet.
    Aug 2, 1932 Track & Field. 2:30 PM
    Olympic Stadium.
    Wonder what was happeng at that time.

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