You may have noticed a number of billboards around the Disney-MGM Studios and there is one in particular on Hollywood Boulevard above the Darkroom store that references an establishment that provides entertainment for servicemen.
Hollywood Canteen refers to a dining and entertainment establishment called the Hollywood Canteen (1451 Cahuenga Boulevard in Hollywood, California), which was open between October 3, 1942 and November 22, 1945. The club offered food, dancing and entertainment and catered to United States servicemen, usually on their way overseas to fight in World War II (they also served other Allied servicemen from other Allied countries along with women in the service). Admission to the club was simple; you simply needed to be wearing ones uniform and everything at the club was free.
You heard right, a free club to servicemen and women, but how? John Garfield was feeling the need for a club for the servicemen who frequented Hollywood. He spoke with Bette Davis about this idea. Hollywood stars Bette Davis and John Garfield and composer Jules Stein devoted large amounts of time and energy to making the idea for the club a reality. The Canteen, a former livery stable and nightclub, the Old Barn, was located off Sunset Boulevard. The cost for materials for renovations and labor was donated by members of different guilds and unions in the entertainment industry. The Hollywood Canteen was run and staffed by volunteers from the entertainment industry and accumulated over 3000 volunteers from all corners of Hollywood. By 1943, the club had served its millionth guest.
A movie poster for the Hollywood Canteen film
The original Hollywood Canteen
In 1944, Warner Bros. made a film about the Hollywood Canteen where two soldiers on sick leave spend three nights at the Hollywood Canteen before going back to active duty. The film was nominated for 3 Oscars. The film featured a number of Hollywood stars such as the Andrews Sisters, Jack Benny, Kitty Carlisle, Bette Davis, Joan Crawford and more.