Monday, January 17, 2011

Vintage Snapshot! - Hollywood Canteen

Vintage popular culture.  Classic Hollywood.  Pure 1940s iconography.  The Hollywood Canteen is all of these and more.  And it was a perfect piece of set dressing for the then brand-new Disney-MGM Studios when this photograph was snapped back in 1989.

The original Hollywood Canteen was located on Cahuenga Boulevard in Hollywood.  It operated during the war years from 1942 to 1945 and featured free food and entertainment for servicemen and servicewomen.  The Canteen was the brainchild of stars Bette Davis and John Garfield, and they enlisted the entire entertainment industry to donate labor, materials and services to construct and operate the venue.  By the time it closed on Thanksgiving Day 1945, it had served nearly three million military personnel.  In 1944, Warner Bros. released the film Hollywood Canteen which drew inspiration from the actual nightclub.

In a bit of Blue Sky Department imagining, I wish that Disney had taken the Hollywood Canteen beyond just a simple billboard decoration.  A full service Hollywood Canteen restaurant would have been a great addition to the Studios park; it could have featured live entertainment and celebrated via memorabilia and design, Hollywood's many contributions to the war effort.