John Garfield was feeling the need for a club for the servicemen who frequented Hollywood. He spoke with Bette Davis about this idea. With much interest she took the idea to a friend of hers. His name was Jules Stein.
It seemed that Davis had been represented by the Music Corporation of America since 1938. Stein was the president.
Bette Davis, "Jules Stein, up to this time, was seldom ever seen. Few people even knew what he looked like. He preferred to live this way. It was a big decision when he said he would head the financial committee. He would have to alter his way of life. Without his hard work, advice, and investments of our funds the Hollywood Canteen could not have been successful, to say nothing of the work of his wife, Doris, who I asked to be the head of the committee for the hostesses necessary for dancing partners for the servicemen. When the canteen was no longer needed after V-J Day, $500,000 remained in the canteen account. These monies were the result of Jules's ideas. A great source of revenue came from a film he urged Warner Bros. to make called Hollywood Canteen, a large percentage of which was allotted by Mr. Warner to the canteen itself. With the remaining monies a foundation was formed, and to this day contributions are made to worthy projects dealing with the armed forces."
The Canteen, a former livery stable and nightclub, the Old Barn, was located at 1451 Cahuenga Boulevard, off Sunset.
Materials for repairs and decorations and actual labor were donated by members of the fourteen guilds and unions of the industry, which included the board of directors of the Hollywood Canteen, with Davis as president and Garfield as vice-president. Artists and cartoonist painted murals on the walls.
"Chef Milani was in charge of the food at the canteen. Due to his energies a great deal was donated by different organizations, but much we had to pay for. Our average weekly food bill was $3,000."
The Canteen charged $100.00 dollars to sit in the bleachers for opening night, October 3, 1942.
Davis, "This also was Jules Stein's idea. The canteen made $10,000 that night from the bleacher seats. It seemed thousands of men entered the canteen that night. I had to crawl through a window to get inside."
On opening night Bette Davis made the welcoming speech. She remarked on the people involved, plus her lack of voice on the night,
"All concerned in making the canteen a success, and it would be impossible to name them all, were exhausted by the time we opened, including myself...thus the laryngitis."