Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Found Photo: The Hollywood Canteen


Hollywood Canteen, circa 1940s Posted by Hello

I recently purchased this 1940s snapshot photo of the HOLLYWOOD CANTEEN at a local antiques store. The canteen--brain child of actor JOHN GARFIELD and based on a similar operation in New York--was designed to entertain and give comfort to military personnel fighting in World War II. Garfield enlisted his friend BETTE DAVIS as president of the organization. Using her considerable clout, Davis helped raise money, materials, and manpower needed for the patriotic project. The canteen--a renovated livery stable and theater space at 1451 Cahuenga Blvd.--opened with great fanfare in October 1942. During its run, the canteen served up to 3,000 servicemen every night--the only admission price, their uniforms. Big bands and comedy acts entertained the troops; everything from cigarettes, milk, coffee, sandwiches and cake were free for the asking. The canteen was also a place to see the stars. Over 6,000 actors and entertainment industry workers volunteered their time. Actresses such as HEDY LAMARR, OLIVIA DE HAVILLAND and MARLENE DIETRICH danced with the servicemen and helped out in the kitchen; actors such as FRED MACMURRY, SPENCER TRACY, and BASIL RATHBONE served as busboys. The Hollywood Canteen operated continuously until November 22, 1945. When all was said and done, the Hollywood community fed and entertained nearly 4 million soldiers.

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