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Popular Hollywood Canteen

Hollywood Canteen

World War II opened a new chapter in the lives of depression-weary Americans.  As husbands and fathers, sons and brothers shipped out to fight in Europe and the Pacific, citizens who remained at home were galvanized in support of a common goal: to actively maintain the home front. Millions of women marched into factories, offices, and military bases to work in the paying jobs formerly held by men in peacetime.

   One of the greatest contributors to the war effort was Hollywood’s entertainment industry; no other single group gave so much of its time, talent, energy, and enthusiasm. Hollywood film and radio stars, movie and studio employees, actors and actresses of varying degrees of fame, as well as screenwriters, directors, and producers, rolled up their sleeves to sell war bonds, traveled far and wide to perform for troops, and cheered up wounded servicemen on hospital tours.

But if there was one operation in which all the celebrated elements of Hollywood’s wartime generosity met, it was the Hollywood Canteen.

Starting the Hollywood Canteen

Founded by Bette Davis and John Garfield and with the assistance of Dr. Jules Stein, the Hollywood Canteen opened its doors on October 3, 1942.   For three years, the best nightclub in the world welcomed over three million servicemen to a unique haven in a converted stable-cum-playhouse in the heart of Hollywood. It was a magical combination of a dazzling glamour spot and a comfy home away from home.

Entertaining at the Hollywood Canteen

Under its western-style roof, young men in uniform away from their families for the first time and about to ship out -- some never to return – could actually dance with Betty Grable! They could laugh at Bob Hope, tell their troubles to Marlene Dietrich , be handed a sandwich by Rita Hayworth, and have a letter to their girl written by a sympathetic studio secretary.

Most of all, as the boys went off to face unseen dangers in unknown lands, they knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, how much they were appreciated. They left the Hollywood Canteen armed with the kinds of hope and encouragement that would help them win a war. Website

The largest collection of Hollywood Canteen photos is  There are more than 300 Canteen images


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