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The Great Hollywood Canteen Book

The Hollywood Canteen Book

The Hollywood Canteen Book

The book, "The Hollywood Canteen" has been out six months. The book, which chronicles the history of the Hollywood Canteen, has over 225 pages and contains 170 photos, many of which have never been seen by the public. Photographs of such celebrities as Frank Sinatra, Ken Murray, Jane Russell, Faye McKenzie, and Loretta Young are just a few of the scores of pictures that appear in the book.

Founding The Hollywood Canteen

The Hollywood Canteen was founded in 1942 by Bette Davis and John Garfield and was  Hollywood’s finest contribution to the war effort.  From 1942 to 1945, over three million servicemen came through its doors on their way to fight in the Pacific – some never to return. There, in a converted barn in the heart of Hollywood, soldiers were fed, entertained by and danced with some of the biggest stars in the world. The Canteen was free to all servicemen or women, regardless of race, inviting them to jive to the music of Kay Kyser and Harry James, laugh at Bob Hope’s jokes, be handed sandwiches by celebrities and dance with Hollywood’s most beautiful actresses, like Rita Hayworth.

Located at 1451 N. Cahuenga Ave, just south of Sunset Boulevard, the Hollywood Canteen had originally been a barn and nightclub, of many different names.  Once a lease was secured Davis and Garfield enlisted the help of the scores of entertainment industry’s unions and guilds.  With their assistance, the craftsmen began to convert the old barn into, what later became known as, the Hollywood Canteen.  


Grand opening

Grand Opening

All of the work was donated without charge and took about two months to complete. When completed, the Canteen threw open its doors on October 2, 1942.  Hundreds of civic dignitaries, movie stars and servicemen listen to Bette Davis’ grand opening speech, which she gave in the front courtyard of the Canteen. Ginny Simms sang, Abbot and Costello did their “Whose on First” and others entertained the audience before the doors were opened to the guests.

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.  Every volunteered had to be fingerprinted and photographed, which was required by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  All volunteers were issued laminated identification cards which had their photo, fingerprint, date of birth, color of hair and eyes and signature.


Dancing & Entertainment

Popular and famous stars volunteered to dance, wait on tables, make sandwiches, cook in the kitchen and sweep-up after all the servicemen left each night. One of the highlights of a serviceman was to dance with one of the many beautiful female celebrities volunteering at the Canteen.  One of the most popular features at the Hollywood Canteen was the entertainment performed by many of Hollywood’s finest celebrities.  Some of the most popular entertainers were Bob Hope, Basil Rathbone, Lena Horne, Joan Leslie, and Spencer Tracy.





The Hollywood Canteen book can be purchased by going to the web site.



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