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Historic Hollywood Canteen

        ** Click Here To View Photos **

The Hollywood Canteen was located at 1451 Cahuenga Boulevard in Hollywood  and existed from October 3, 1942 to November 22, 1945 (Thanksgiving Day).  As a place offering food, dancing and entertainment for servicemen, usually on their way overseas, it was extremely popular. Even though the majority of visitors were U.S. servicemen, the Canteen was open to servicemen of allied countries as well as women in all branches of service. The serviceman's ticket for admission was his uniform and everything at the Canteen was free of charge.

The founders of the Hollywood Canteen were Bette Davis and John Garfield, along with Jules Stein, President of Music Corporation of America, who headed up the finance committee. Bette Davis devoted an enormous amount of time and energy to the project and served as its president. All the guilds and unions of the entertainment industry donated the labor and money for the building renovations. The Canteen was operated and staffed completely by volunteers from the entertainment industry. By the time the Canteen opened its doors, over 3000 stars, players, directors, producers, grips, dancers, musicians, singers, writers, technicians, wardrobe attendants, hair stylists, agents, stand-ins, publicists, secretaries, and allied craftsmen of radio and screen had registered as volunteers.

Glamorous stars volunteered to wait on tables, cook in the kitchen and clean up.  One of the highlights of a serviceman’s visit was to dance with such glamorous stars as Marlene Dietrich, Rita Hayworth, Bunny Waters, and Faye McKinzie.  The other highlight was the entertainment provided by some of Hollywood most popular stars.  Bob Hope, Red Skelton, Cary Grant, Spencer Tracy, Lena Horne, Eddie Cantor were some of the Canteen’s most regular volunteers.  On September 15, 1943 the one millionth guest walked through the door of the Hollywood Canteen. The lucky soldier, Sgt. Carl Bell, received a kiss from Betty Grable. and Marlene Dietrich. 

The Canteen was so popular that Warner Bros. made a movie titled, The Hollywood Canteen.  Staring Joan Leslie and Robert Hutton, the film was directed by Delmar Daves, who also wrote the screenplay.

By the time the Canteen closed its doors, it had hosted more than three million servicemen.

During the course of the Hollywood Canteen’s three year existence, there were thousands of photographs taken of all facets of it operation.  

Dancing, entertainment, autograph signing and serving food was all captured in pictures.  The largest collection of Hollywood Canteen photos is on the hollywoodphotographs.com web site.  With more than 400 photographs from which to choose,  there’s a photo for everyone.  All the Hollywood Canteen photographs are available for purchase.

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