The Hollywood Canteen as portrayed in the 1944 film “Hollywood Canteen.” And being a movie, this is a set, not the actual canteen.
For comparison, here’s an undated snapshot of the actual canteen. Notice that there’s no awning and no portrait studio next door.
As a junior hostess at the Hollywood Canteen, Georgette Bauerdorf was scheduled once a week on Wednesday nights. On the night of Oct. 11, 1944, she was nervous and anxious, according to her friend June Ziegler, 20, 1851 Linda Rose Ave., Eagle Rock, who also volunteered as a hostess on Wednesdays.
Georgette Bauerdorf, an Unsolved Murder:
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June told investigators that she found Georgette about 6:30 p.m., sitting in her green 1936 Oldsmobile parked near the canteen.
June Ziegler in a photo by the Herald-Express, courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library.
“She was knitting and appeared quite nervous,” June said. “I climbed in the car and we talked for about 30 minutes before we went inside. She told me she was nervous and asked if I would spend the night with her.
“At the time I did not pay much attention because I thought she was just nervous about the plane trip [to visit Pvt. Jerome “Jerry” Brown in El Paso], which I knew she had kept secret from everyone but myself.”
Georgette and June entered the canteen and for the next 3 1/2 hours went about their duties as junior hostesses, sitting and chatting with servicemen and dancing with them.
1851 Linda Rose, Eagle Rock, home of June Ziegler, via Google Street View.
June said a “jitterbugging” soldier had insisted on dancing with Georgette during the evening.
According to the Los Angeles Examiner (Oct. 14, 1944), the soldier kept “cutting in roughly” to “force Miss Bauerdorf to jitterbug.” June said: “She didn’t like him and resented his attitude but she told me she was dancing with him to avoid trouble.”
The Los Angeles Herald-Express (Oct. 14, 1944) said: “This soldier kept cutting in on Georgette all the time, no matter who she was dancing with,” according to June, who described him as an “older boy, about 28, in the Army, “about 5 feet 8 inches tall, very dark complexion and an olive skin.”
“Georgette didn’t like to jitterbug, but this man kept forcing her to do it,” June said.
According to the Examiner (Oct. 15, 1944), an unidentified sailor at the canteen said: “All evening he had been doing that and Miss Bauerdorf seemed a little annoyed, but she excused herself and danced off with him. Later another sailor and I looked around for them, but they were nowhere in sight. Then someone said they had seen Miss Bauerdorf leave alone.”
Subsequent investigation revealed that the jitterbugging soldier was Cpl. Cosmo Volpe, a professional dancer in civilian life who was temporarily assigned to the Lockheed plant in Burbank for training as a P-38 mechanic.
Cpl. Cosmo Volpe examines photos of Georgette Bauerdorf and her companion June Ziegler, Daily News, Oct. 17, 1944.
Volpe said: “When the dancing began I looked around and saw a nice-looking, black-haired girl and asked her to dance with me. She said she’d be glad to, so we did.” (Daily News, Oct. 17, 1944).
“I’ve danced professionally and when I started doing some fancy rug cutting she said she didn’t know how to follow but would like me to teach her. So I did — but I really would have liked to find a partner who could get in the groove.”
Volpe added: “The dark-haired girl I had as my partner was very nice to me. After we did the first dance she said she wanted me to dance more with her. She was vivacious and happy.
“She asked me my name and I told her and then she told me her name was Georgette. I never annoyed her like some of the papers said I did.
“Then we talked about my home town — New York. She said she had lived there, but that she had traveled around a lot because her father was in the oil business.
“Well that’s about all there was to it. We danced together three or four times — the last time she almost fell down. But she seemed to enjoy it and she took me over to where her friend, June Ziegler, sat with another GI. I chatted with them a bit and then went back to my pal [SSgt. James ] Driscoll.”
Volpe said that he and Driscoll left the canteen about 10 p.m. and hitchhiked back to camp, checking in about 11:30 p.m.
June and and Georgette left the canteen by a side door, but news reports vary on whether it was 10:30 p.m. or 11:30 p.m. Canteen rules required the hostesses to leave unaccompanied by a serviceman. Georgette drove away alone, June said.
Sunset and Vine to Sunset and Laurel Canyon, and on to the Bauerdorf apartment at 8493 Fountain Ave, courtesy of Google Maps.
Investigators later received a letter from Sgt. Gordon R. Aadland stating that on the night of the killing, Georgette picked him up about 11:30 p.m. on Sunset Boulevard five or six blocks west of Vine Street, where he was hitchhiking. (Daily News, Oct. 18, 1944). The Times reported that Aadland said Georgette picked him up between 11 p.m. and midnight.
According to the Herald-Express (Oct. 18, 1944), Aadland also said “All the while she seemed excited and talked about plans for a trip to Texas to visit a boyfriend. She said she had to hurry home because she was expecting a telephone call from him.”
Aadland said he hadn’t paid much attention to the woman driver because “the lighting wasn’t very good in the car.” Georgette dropped him off on Sunset, a block east of Laurel Canyon Boulevard, Aadland said.
Most curiously, Aadland said that after Georgette dropped him off, she turned right on Laurel Canyon, a main thoroughfare into the Hollywood Hills and the San Fernando Valley, rather than heading back to her apartment. (Examiner, Oct. 20, 1944).
To be continued.