Saturday, January 14, 2017

Stage Door Canteen

74 years ago tonight, January 14, 1943, Cleveland's Stage Door Canteen formally opened. The Canteen was located on the second floor of the Loew Building at 1515 Euclid Avenue above Loew's State Theatre. This space was originally occupied by the Carlton Terrace, which later became Tucker's Terrace and then the Music Box Cafe. Following the war the second floor was occupied by an Arthur Murray dance studio which lasted until the end of 1972. The canteen ran mostly on donations, the space was donated by Loew's Inc, the entertainment by local theatres and niteclubs. On Mondays the stage show from the neighboring RKO Palace was recreated on the tiny canteen stage. Local restaurants donated food and kitchen help, with dozens of volunteers doing everything else. This was one of eight canteens in the country, all operated by the American Theatre Wing, they were places for servicemen to go when in a strange city. They provided food, entertainment and companionship, all for free. The canteen remained open until late 1945, unsure of the actual closing date at this time.
A general view, undated photo from the New York Public Library.
From The Plain Dealer, January 14, 1943.
From The Plain Dealer, January 15, 1943.
 From The Plain Dealer, January 15, 1943.
From The Plain Dealer, January 15, 1943.
The opening came after months of planning and work.
From Variety, October 21, 1942. Much of this is incorrect. The building didn't exist in pre-World War 1 days. Sophie Tucker did invest money into the failing Carlton Terrace, which was renamed Tucker Terrace before it went bankrupt. Niki Burnette's wife was named Helen, and his first name is spelled several different ways. He later became a program director at CBS in New York. And the mid-November preem was overly optimistic.
 From The Plain Dealer, December 29, 1942.
From The Plain Dealer, December 29, 1942.
From The Plain Dealer, January 10, 1943.
From The Plain Dealer, January 31, 1943.
From Motion Picture Herald, March 6, 1943.
Bob Hope and Jerry Colonna on the Canteen stage, undated photo from the New York Public Library.
From Motion Picture Daily, June 16, 1943.
From Variety, June 14, 1944.
From The Plain Dealer, August 3, 1944.
Undated postcard from the Cleveland Memory Project.

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