American Theatre - Stage Door Canteen

Very little is documented about the role of the American Theatre Wing in WW2, beyond the pioneer efforts of Jill Smith in Volume Two of her seminal work Dressed for Duty. I contacted the American Theatre Wing, and was informed that their historical records were destroyed in a fire years ago. If anyone has personal memories, scrapbook photos, or official published dress regulations for the American Theatre Wing Stage Door Canteen employees, please contact me.

The Soldier's museum would like to thank our Sponsors whose generous donation of time and resources has made this gallery page possible.

Click on thumbnails to view full-sized images
 

atw-enameled-01 ATW Brooch - 2 1/2" - While often referred to as a breast pin, contemporary photos show it being worn on the left sleeve of the USO Camp Shows uniform. This example has a blue painted mask, with the red and white being fired enamel.
   
atw-enameled-02

The back of the pin shows its diecast construction.

 

[Don Wagner Collection]

   
atw-painted-01 ATW Brooch - 2 3/4" - This example has red, white and blue paint as opposed to fired enamel.
   
atw-painted-02

The back of the pin shows its heavy construction, which is similar to women's rhinestone jewelry of the times.

[Don Wagner Collection]

   
atw-green

This unusual variation is green, white and blue as opposed to red, white and blue

[Jon Olivarri Collection]

   

 

Ultra-rare example of the ATW Brooch - mint condition in the original box. This solves two mysteries behind these unmarked pins - they were made by H. Popper & Sons, and they are Sterling Silver.

 

 

[James Graham Collection]

   

ATW lapel pin for male volunteers - Sterling Silver, made by Dieges & Clust.

Another rare pin.

[James Graham Collection]

   
atw-stagedoorcanteen-01

ATW Stage Door Canteen Pin - 1 1/8" - While this is a small pin, it is believed to belong to an ATW volunteer or employee, not to a donor.

[Don Wagner Collection]

   
atw-workroom-01

ATW Work Room Pin - 1 1/2" - Nothing is known about the "Work Rooms". A logical guess would be that volunteers assembled giveaway packets for visiting servicemen there, and similar activities.

[Don Wagner Collection]

   
atw-hospital

ATW Hospital Committee Pin - 1 1/2" -

 

[Jon Olivarri Collection]

   
atw-merchantseamen-01

ATW "Club for Merchant Seamen" Pin - 1 1/2" - These clubs catered to members of the U.S. Maritime Service.

[Don Wagner Collection]

   
atw-sf

A very nice example of an ATW "Stage Door Canteen - San Francisco" Pin - 1 1/2", as worn by Food Bar Hostess Mary Louise Moreton, Great-Aunt to Eric Vennemeyer.

[Contributed by Mrs. Eric Vennemeyer ]

   
atw-sf

Another very rare and previously undocumented pin - this one reads "American Theatre Wing - Stage Door Canteen - Entertainer".

[Contributed by Living History enthusiasts Deborah & Mike van den Dobbelsteen]

   
atw-sf

Another ATW "Stage Door Canteen - San Francisco" Pin - 1 1/2".

[Jon Olivarri Collection]

   

ATW "Stage Door Canteen - Cleveland" Pin - 1 1/2".

[James Graham Collection]

   

ATW "Stage Door Canteen - Washington" [DC] Pin - 1 1/2".

Also pictured is a "Camp Shows" Pin from the same estate.

[Jon Olivarri Collection]

   

Cloth ATW "Stage Door Canteen" Pin. This may be a late war item made to conserve on precious materials. The American Red Cross implemented a similar policy with their volunteer pins.

[James Graham Collection]

   

 

Very unusual and  undocumented Hollywood Canteen Armband

[James Graham Collection]

   
 

 

A very rare photo has surfaced showing a version of this armband in use. The back reads "Oct 8, 1942 - Anna [Anne] Nagle gets her arm band pinned on at Hollywood Canteen"

[James Graham Collection]

   
 

 

A period press release photo of Anna [Anne] Nagle

   

 

Stage Door Canteen Hostess Apron

An extremely rare apron worn by Jr. Hostess Della Napier (Shatto) (c1925-2009) volunteer at the Stage Door Canteen in the Belasco Theater at Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C.

Della Shatto later served overseas in the U.S. Foreign Service.

[James Graham Collection] [Photos courtesy of Glenn and Gail at Time Travelers Antiques & Vintage Clothing]

"The aprons were provided by the Canteen for use while we were on duty. When we came in for duty we picked up an apron and put it on. When our duty was over, we took it off, and returned it to the pile for the next shift. We did not take it home. It was not ours. The aprons were made commercially - I am sure that they were designed by someone from the Guild. I do not have any pictures of me in an apron, but I took an apron home the last day I was on duty. Because it was not mine I did not take a new one, but the one I had used that evening. Thank goodness I took one at all."

[Contributed by Dorothy Ann Henderson]

   
 

 

Della Napier wearing her apron, serving Phillip Morris cigarettes

[James Graham Collection]

 

   

ATW "Victory Guild of N.Y. Women" Brooch. A completely unknown organization. We are actively seeking information on this pin.

[James Graham Collection]

   
 

Dorothy Ann Henderson's Jr. Hostess Identification Card for the Stage Door Canteen at the 44th Street Theatre in New York. She was the youngest Hostess at the Canteen, which was made famous in the 1943 movie "Stage Door Canteen".

"First, the Canteen functioned very well. There were no problems with anything. I was on duty on Saturday night. I was in college and wasn't available at any other time.

Things went very well. There must have been written rules because everything went so smoothly. There was a Senior Hostess in charge of all of us, but I can't remember her having to make any serious decisions. I know that one had to be eighteen years old."

You had to be interviewed to become a hostess. I remember being interviewed by a very theatrical woman who reclined on a chaise while she interviewed me. I think that it was in her studio, it was not in an office environment. She approved me, and I was admitted to the ranks.

I want to emphasize that the Canteen was run in a very business- like way. There was no nonsense."

[Contributed by Dorothy Ann Henderson]

 

ATW Junior Hostess Identification Card for the Stage Door Canteen of San Francisco - "You will not be admitted Dorothy without this card".

   
 

ATW Food Bar Hostess Identification Card for the Stage Door Canteen of San Francisco, for Mary Louise Moreton, Great-Aunt to Eric Vennemeyer.

[Contributed by Mrs. Eric Vennemeyer ]

   

ATW Hostess Identification Card for the Stage Door Canteen of Washington, D.C. The significance of the colored border is not certain, but on a military ID card, this signifies a non-combatant under the Geneva Convention (such as medical personnel).

[Jon Olivarri Collection]

   

 ATW Hostess Identification Card. This one is for the Stage Door Canteen of New York City. Signed by Antoinette Perry (1907-1946) for whom the Tony Awards are named.

Also pictured here is a Certificate of Appreciation issued to the same woman.

[James Graham Collection]

   
 

 

Hollywood Canteen Certificate of Appreciation - signed by Bette Davis.

Addressed to Thelma Himmel. Thelma was a minor starlet who went on to make it in ballet..

[James Graham Collection]

   

 
ATW Junior Hostess Identification Card for Elynor Krings - 1943. Signed by Antoinette Perry (1907-1946) for whom the Tony Awards are named.

[Courtesy of Pamela Whitaker (Daughter )]

   

 
ATW Merchant Seaman's Club - Junior Hostess Identification Card for Elynor Krings.

[Courtesy of Pamela Whitaker (Daughter )]

   

 
ATW Stage Door Canteen - Junior Hostess Identification Card for Elynor Krings.

[Courtesy of Pamela Whitaker (Daughter )]

   

 

ATW Stage Door Canteen - Junior Hostess Committee Identification Card

Yet another of the myriad variations of Identification Cards. This one is from the Stage Door Canteen in New York.

[Contributed by Garrett Weinheimer]

   

 

Hollywood Canteen Identification Card.

[James Graham Collection]

   
 

 

Certificate of Outstanding Service to the Stage Door Canteen by an Honored Artist.

Awarded to PFC Robert Singer

"My father played in a select Army dance band in Washington DC, one member of which was famed drummer Louie Bellson. He received this recognition signed by Helen Hayes" - Contributed by Richard Singer

   

 

PFC Robert Singer in WW2

[Contributed by Richard and Jan Singer]

   

 

PFC Robert Singer in 2010

[Contributed by Richard and Jan Singer]

   

New York Stage Door Canteen Photo - with ATW rubber stamp on the back

Alysa Solomon lives in Los Angeles and her grandfather, William Haber, is in the photo.  She is seeking any information about the photo and how it was used (possibly a publicity photo?)

[Alysa Solomon Collection]

   

 

ATW Stage Door Canteen Photo

Junior Hostess Elynor Krings entertains a US Navy Chief Petty Officer

[Courtesy of Pamela Whitaker (Daughter)]

   

 

 

Newspaper Clipping

Junior Hostess Elynor Krings entertains at a Stage Door Canteen party

[Courtesy of Pamela Whitaker (Daughter)]

   

 

 

Stage Door Canteen Color Photo

Junior Hostess Elynor Krings, Fred Casey and his sister, Hostess Doris Casey. Note that both women are wearing the red/white/blue apron.  They were best friends, and both were John Robert Powers models.

[Courtesy of Pamela Whitaker (Daughter of Elynor Krings)]

   

 

 

Hollywood Canteen - Convoy Car Photo

Can anyone identify these beauties?

[James Graham Collection]

I'm not positive, but I believe the lady on the right in the Hollywood Canteen photo is actress Veda Ann Borg.

[Contributed by Chris Koseluk - Actors Equity Association]

   

Photo of Sailor James Duncan (on left) was captured by an American Theatre Wing War Service photographer. Taken at the Stage Door Canteen of New York, September, 1944.

Note the extremely rare armband the photographer is wearing - "SDC PRESS".

[Contributed by Skye Wentworth - daughter of James Duncan] (Skye Wentworth Book Publicist)

   

 

ATW Stage Door Canteen Letter - October 13, 1945

"Dear Junior Hostess ... The Stage Door Canteen is closing ..."

(There is a nice list of committee members in the left margin)

[Courtesy of Pamela Whitaker (Daughter of Elynor Krings )]

   

ATW Souvenir Postcard #1

(Note the rare red, white & blue aprons worn by hostesses)

 

[Keith.W.Lillywhite Collection]

   

ATW Souvenir Postcard #2

 

 

[Keith.W.Lillywhite Collection]

   

 

ATW Souvenir Postcard #3

 

 

[Keith.W.Lillywhite Collection]