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Hollywood Canteen activities photos

Hollywood Canteen Activities Photos

The Hollywood Canteen was founded by Bette Davis and John Garfield in October 3, 1942.  Located on Cahuenga Ave., just south of Sunset Blvd., the Canteen was open to servicemen of all branches of the armed services.   The only people who were allowed to volunteer, at the Canteen, were those that were employed in the entertainment industry.  Volunteers included actors, actresses, studio secretaries, prop men, radio technicians, film editors, etc. 


Actresses, both established and starlets, volunteered as hostesses to dance and chat with servicemen during their visit to the Hollywood Canteen. Each night, two bands played on stage so the servicemen could dance with the beautiful ladies. Of all the types of dances that were popular in the 1940s, the jitterbug was the favorite.


All the food that was served at the Canteen was free to the servicemen.  Chef Joseph Milani oversaw the kitchen’s operation which was where all the food was prepared.  Hundreds of sandwiches were made and served to servicemen. Other food included milk, candy and, on special occasions, turkey and mashed potatoes.

All the food was free to the servicemen.



Each night,  several of Hollywood finest celebrities would get up on stage to entertain the visiting servicemen and other volunteers.  Comedians like Bob Hope and Eddie Cantor were always a big hit. Basil Rathbone would recite Shakesphere’s poems, Bing Crosby would croon while Spencer would simply chat while on stage.

Autograph Signing

One of the most popular activities was obtaining the autographs of the scores of volunteering celebrities. Joan Leslie was one of the stars whose autograph servicemen most wanted. Postcards were handed out to all the servicemen so they could get autographs.


Letter Writing

One of the less frequent activities was typing letters to the servicemen’s families. Occasionally, studio secretaries would show up, with typewriters in hand, and would have the servicemen dictate letters.

In 1912, the book, The Hollywood Canteen, by Lisa Mitchell and Bruce Torrence was published. It chronicles the history of this popular nightspot for servicemen.

The largest collection of Hollywood photos can be seen on the website.



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