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   xoxoxoBruce  Saturday Nov 26 09:19 PM

Nov 27th, 2016: Hollywood Canteen

Hours away from being shipped off to Europe’s battlefields or back on US soil for a brief reprieve, there wasn’t
a single American serviceman passing through Los Angeles in the 1940s that wouldn’t have lined around the block
for an evening at the Hollywood Canteen. Set up in an abandoned nightclub near Sunset Boulevard, if you were
wearing a uniform, entry was free, as was the food, drink and entertainment inside the club. But what set the
Hollywood Canteen apart from every club other in Hollywood at the time was that it was entirely staffed,
six days a week by celebrities and volunteers from the entertainment industry. Picture Frank Sinatra behind
the bar, Katherine Hepburn waiting on tables, Charlie Chaplin doing the dishes and Louis Armstrong serving up his
homemade pudding.

Some of the biggest names of the era cooked, cleaned, waited tables, put on a show, and danced with the G.I.s
as a way to thank them for serving the country. For four years, Hollywood’s most glamorous players essentially
took part time jobs, sharing shifts at the canteen.
They even recruited their directors, writers, wardrobe assistants and technicians to help out. The glamorous
Marlene Dietrich one night came straight from the set from “Kismet” covered in gold paint. Some of the
most well-known stars who volunteered include Humphrey Bogart, Frank Sinatra, Fred Astaire, Lauren Bacall,
Joan Crawford, Judy Garland, Cary Grant, Rita Hayworth, Katherine Hepburn, Gene Kelly, Vivien Leigh, Ginger Rogers,
Shirley Temple, Lucille Ball, Charlie Chaplin– the list goes on.

Taking a shift at the Hollywood Canteen surrounded by a sea of soldiers was certainly an ego boost for even
the most desired of actresses, but Bette Davis kept her feet firmly on the ground. She circulated a memo
to Hollywood canteen hostesses, advising them, “Forget the wounds, remember the man. Don’t be over-solicitous,
nor too controlled to the point of indifference. Learn to use the word ‘prosthetics’ instead of ‘artificial limbs.’
Never say, ‘It could have been worse.’ And when he talks about his war experiences, listen, but don’t ask
for more details than he wants to give.”
Even when segregation reared its ugly head inside her establishment, she famously took the microphone
to defend African-American soldiers. “The blacks got the same bullets as the whites did, and should have the
same treatment.” In 1980, Davis was awarded the U.S. Department of Defense’s highest civilian award,
the Distinguished Civilian Service Medal, for her efforts.
The Hollywood Canteen was short-lived, closing it’s doors in 1945, left to live only in memory and legend.

Gravdigr  Sunday Nov 27 01:24 PM


Shirley Temple was smokin'.

elSicomoro  Sunday Nov 27 03:18 PM

True story: Shirley Temple's daughter played bass in the Melvins, one of the godfathers of grunge.

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