Georgette Bauerdorf: An Unsolved Murder, Part 5

Oct. 3, 1942, Hollywood Canteen

Oct. 3, 1942: Abbott and Costello outside the Hollywood Canteen at the opening ceremony, in a Times photo.

Cahuenga Boulevard south of Sunset Boulevard, former location of the Hollywood Canteen, via Google Street View

One of the important locations in the Georgette Bauerdorf killing is the Hollywood Canteen, a club for enlisted men at 1451 N. Cahuenga Blvd., where she volunteered as a hostess. When Bauerdorf was killed, investigators initially focused on a “dark, husky soldier” who insisted on jitterbugging with her “against her wishes,” according to The Times. (More about that later).

Georgette Bauerdorf, an Unsolved Murder:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12 | Part 13 | Part 14 | Part 15 | Part 16 | Part 17 | Part 18 | Part 19 | Part 20 | Part 21Part 22 | Part 23 | Part 24 | Part 25 | Part 26 | Part 27 | Part 28 | Part 29 | Part 30 | Part 31

At the time of her death in 1944, Bauerdorf was one of about 100 hostesses at the canteen, which served about 3 million servicemen during World War II and immediate postwar era.

Hollywood Canteen
Servicemen line up to get into the Hollywood Canteen in an undated snapshot.


A bit of research shows that there were actually two Hollywood canteens. The first was operated by the U.S.O. and got underway January 1942, at Hollywood and Cahuenga boulevards.

The more familiar Hollywood Canteen, headed by Bette Davis and staffed  by members of the Hollywood guilds, opened Oct. 3, 1942, at Cahuenga and Sunset boulevards in what had been a nightclub known as the Barn. In a previous incarnation, the club had been the Gay White Way (1938).

Oct. 29, 1938, Gay White Way
The Gay White Way, 1938.


The canteen offered meals and shows by popular bands of the day such as Kay Kyser’s orchestra and entertainers such as Bob Hope and Jack Benny. The canteen provided a chance for servicemen to rub shoulders with Hollywood stars like Marlene Dietrich and Deanna Durbin, and an opportunity to chat or dance with hostesses such as Bauerdorf.

And jitterbugging at the canteen could apparently be dangerous. In 1944, junior hostess Florida Edwards sued the canteen for $17,250, alleging that she injured her spine in a fall after being tossed by a “jiving Marine.”

April 21, 1944, Jitterbugs

Actress Lorraine Krueger’s Hollywood Canteen ID card.


What’s important for our purposes is that every employee was photographed and fingerprinted.

Georgette Bauerdorf Hollywood Canteen
Georgette Bauerdorf’s Hollywood Canteen ID card, published by the Los Angeles Mirror, May 16, 1949.

Bauerdorf was fingerprinted, photographed and given a laminated ID card. And despite the claims in “Severed” that Elizabeth Short also volunteered at the Hollywood Canteen, no photo, fingerprints or ID card was ever produced.

And recall that the canteen was for servicemen – no officers allowed, despite the claims in “Severed” that Elizabeth Short met Matt Gordon there. In addition to all the other impossibilities (Elizabeth Short arrived in Los Angeles in mid-1946, the canteen closed in 1945) as  an officer, Matt Gordon would not have been admitted. This is why I say “Severed” is 25% mistakes and 50% fiction.

A little more than a year after Bauerdof was killed, the canteen closed Nov. 22, 1945. Harry Fitzgerald, who managed the canteen’s stage performances, said of its closing: “We have had some great performers here, but we have had some greater sailor, soldiers and Marines. They proved it — and now that the war is over and the boys and girls are coming home the purpose of the canteen has been fulfilled and we are closing our doors.”

After World War II, the Hollywood Canteen was the Hollywood Auditorium (1949) and Le Grand Comedy Theater (1959).

July 12, 1959, Le Grand Comedy Theatre

Le Grand Comedy Theatre, 1959.

Dec. 21, 1966, Hollywood Canteen

The Hollywood Canteen was demolished in December 1966, as shown in this Times photo.

To be continued.

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
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5 Responses to Georgette Bauerdorf: An Unsolved Murder, Part 5

  1. Eve says:

    Poor Florida Edwards! Don’t pout, honey, I don’t think you’re an icky. No one wants to be tossed on their spine by some jiving Marine.

    Well, not on the floor, anyway . . .


  2. Benito says:

    Apparently employees could sue their employers for premises liability in 1944. In 2014, Miss Icky could only get workers compensation, even as a volunteer. PS That judge was no hep cat. PSS Where have all the singing waiters gone?


  3. Joe Vogel says:

    These crazy kids with their “jive” and their “jitterbugs!”

    I fear for the future of America!


  4. Pingback: Bette’s War | Taking Up Room

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