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More Hollywood Canteen Photos

More Hollywood Canteen Photos

The largest collection of Hollywood Canteen photos is on the hollywoodphotographs.com website. Unquestionably, the Hollywood Canteen was Hollywood's greatest contribution to World War II. Located on Cahuenga Ave., it was founded by Bette Davis and John Garfield with the intent of providing a place for servicemen to go when in Hollywood. It opens its doors in October 1942 with a grand opening ceremony which included many Hollywood leaders businessman and entertainers. The only people, other than volunteers, who are allowed on to the first floor, were servicemen. Their uniform was their ticket to admission.

Hollywood Canteen photographs

Volunteers

Basically the Hollywood Canteen was operated by those employed in the entertainment business, whether it be movies, radio or legitimate theater. In addition to celebrity volunteers, anyone employed in any  capacity in the entertain business were eligible to volunteer. Many volunteers were studio secretaries, studio prop-men, radio employees, set designers, etc. No other civilians were allowed to volunteer at the Hollywood Canteen.

Photo of Mickey Rooney at Hollywood Canteen

Canteen Activities and Dancing

The Hollywood Canteen offered many things to the visiting servicemen. Dancing was certainly one of the most exciting activities  Servicemen danced with some of Hollywood's most beautiful women, including Rita Hayworth, Marlene Dietrich, Joan Leslie and Joan Crawford.  There were, also, many beautiful non-celebrity volunteers that danced, each night with the servicemen.  The most popular dance, at the Hollywood Canteen, was the Jitterbug. Some of the best Jitterbugers were Jane Withers and Fay McKenzie, who danced with hundreds of servicemen.

Historic photo of Hollywood Canteen's entrance

Food

Everything at the Canteen was free to the visiting servicemen. They could eat as much as they wanted, whether it be sandwiches, milk, fruit or anything else they could get their hands on.  Free cigarettes were also available. The food was prepared in the Canteen’s kitchen during the afternoon before the Canteen opened its doors at 7 PM. Director John Ford’s wife, Mary, was responsible for the kitchen.  However, Chef Milani was in charge of preparing the food.

Photo of Hollywood Canteen servicemen

Entertainment

The Hollywood Canteen had two shifts every evening. During each shift there was dancing, a raffle, and entertainment by the best of Hollywood's celebrities.  It was “standing room only” when the dancing stopped and the audience turned its attention to the raised stage in front of the band. Entertainers such as, Red Skelton, Ken Murray, Dinah Shore, Eddie Cantor, Marlene Dietrich and Mickey Rooney were enormous “hits” at the Canteen.  Occasionally, Canteen founder, Bette Davis got up on stage to welcome the visitors and to perform in skits.

During its three-year existence, the Hollywood Canteen had more than 3 million servicemen walk through its doors. When the war was over, the Canteen continue to operate for a few more months -- its last day of operation was on Thanksgiving Day, 1945.

The largest collection of vintage Hollywood Canteen photos is on the hollywoodphotographs.com website. The website has over 9,000 vintage photographs of Hollywood, covering more than 90 subject categories. All the photos are available for purchase.

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