The Hollywood Canteen
Start writing a post
Student Life

The Hollywood Canteen

"Through these portals pass the most beautiful uniforms in the world."

The Hollywood Canteen
The Hollywood Photograph Collection

What do Bette Davis and John Garfield have in common?

They were both actors during the Golden Age of Hollywood.


Together, they — along with the president of the Music Corporation of America, Jules Stein — created and maintained The Hollywood Canteen: a club dedicated to U.S./allied countries servicemen and servicewomen. It was a place where food, dancing and various entertainment flowed constantly and free of charge to those in uniform.

The Hollywood Canteen officially opened for operation on October 3, 1942. It was housed at 1451 Cahuenga Boulevard in Hollywood, CA. A huge number of people, many of them Hollywood celebrities, volunteered tirelessly at the Canteen. Among other tasks, they cooked, served food, and cleaned up each night.

Everyone who volunteered at the Hollywood Canteen received an identification card like this one:

A number of celebrities who volunteered also took the stage to provide entertainment for servicemen and servicewomen, while many beloved female celebrities danced the night away with eager and lovestruck servicemen. Marlene Dietrich, among others, was always a popular dance partner.

Soldiers could see any number of famous faces in one night, such as Orson Welles, Rita Hayworth, Hedy Lamarr, Eddie Cantor, Jeanette MacDonald, Betty Hutton, Jack Benny, Cary Grant, Betty Grable, etc.

Holidays played no exception at the Canteen: Turkey dinners were served to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas was abound with decorations, feasts, and - even at a time of such unrest - joy. Since those in uniform were often displaced during holidays, this meant that the Hollywood performers who volunteered at various times would often volunteer to give each man and woman in uniform an amazing day or night to celebrate.

Quite obviously, the world was much different in the 1940s. Twitter was about 60 years away from being invented and Instagram would not be invented for about 65 years after the Canteen's lifetime. In order to get a glimpse of the Hollywood Canteen festivities, moviegoers were treated with news reels, which were shown before movie screenings in theaters.

This Movietone news reel from 1942 shows what a Christmas Eve typically looked like inside the Canteen:

This discussion just scratches the surface of one of Hollywood's most interesting subjects. Many people today don't know about this golden piece of history in Hollywood. While guilty pleasure stuff like following the latest celebrity gossip can be fun, it can sometimes get in the way of remembering important history like this.

Although Hollywood seems to push new (and often questionable) agendas in the modern age, remember the greatness it achieved in serving and honoring roughly three million courageous servicemen and servicewomen from 1942 until 1945, when its doors closed on Thanksgiving.

I highly recommend learning even more about The Hollywood Canteen. I know there is at least one book in print about the subject and it's a fantastic read. You can find it here.

In honor of those who served in World War II and volunteered at the Hollywood Canteen, I dedicate this post.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
the beatles
Wikipedia Commons

For as long as I can remember, I have been listening to The Beatles. Every year, my mom would appropriately blast “Birthday” on anyone’s birthday. I knew all of the words to “Back In The U.S.S.R” by the time I was 5 (Even though I had no idea what or where the U.S.S.R was). I grew up with John, Paul, George, and Ringo instead Justin, JC, Joey, Chris and Lance (I had to google N*SYNC to remember their names). The highlight of my short life was Paul McCartney in concert twice. I’m not someone to “fangirl” but those days I fangirled hard. The music of The Beatles has gotten me through everything. Their songs have brought me more joy, peace, and comfort. I can listen to them in any situation and find what I need. Here are the best lyrics from The Beatles for every and any occasion.

Keep Reading...Show less
Being Invisible The Best Super Power

The best superpower ever? Being invisible of course. Imagine just being able to go from seen to unseen on a dime. Who wouldn't want to have the opportunity to be invisible? Superman and Batman have nothing on being invisible with their superhero abilities. Here are some things that you could do while being invisible, because being invisible can benefit your social life too.

Keep Reading...Show less

19 Lessons I'll Never Forget from Growing Up In a Small Town

There have been many lessons learned.

houses under green sky
Photo by Alev Takil on Unsplash

Small towns certainly have their pros and cons. Many people who grow up in small towns find themselves counting the days until they get to escape their roots and plant new ones in bigger, "better" places. And that's fine. I'd be lying if I said I hadn't thought those same thoughts before too. We all have, but they say it's important to remember where you came from. When I think about where I come from, I can't help having an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for my roots. Being from a small town has taught me so many important lessons that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

Keep Reading...Show less
​a woman sitting at a table having a coffee

I can't say "thank you" enough to express how grateful I am for you coming into my life. You have made such a huge impact on my life. I would not be the person I am today without you and I know that you will keep inspiring me to become an even better version of myself.

Keep Reading...Show less
Student Life

Waitlisted for a College Class? Here's What to Do!

Dealing with the inevitable realities of college life.

college students waiting in a long line in the hallway

Course registration at college can be a big hassle and is almost never talked about. Classes you want to take fill up before you get a chance to register. You might change your mind about a class you want to take and must struggle to find another class to fit in the same time period. You also have to make sure no classes clash by time. Like I said, it's a big hassle.

This semester, I was waitlisted for two classes. Most people in this situation, especially first years, freak out because they don't know what to do. Here is what you should do when this happens.

Keep Reading...Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments