Backlot: 80 Years of The Hollywood Reporter

Issue 56 - Endpage: Bette Davis in 1942

Ten months after Pearl Harbor, the actress had the Hollywood Canteen up and running to entertain troops passing through Los Angeles.

The most glamorous and memorable moments from a storied history.

You can say this about the old Hollywood Reporter: It stayed focused on the industry. The day after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, the headline read, “War Wallops Boxoffice.” Admittedly, a 50 percent drop in some markets is quite a jolt, but The Reporter did see a bright side: Moviegoers stayed home listening to the news, so radio got a boost, with FDR’s “a date which will live in infamy” broadcast drawing the largest audience “ever clocked.”

The Reporter soon relayed that “Hollywood went all out in its efforts to build and maintain the morale.” Among the doings: Warners “feels it is in the groove with four anti-Nazi pictures,” Universal working on Hitchcock’s Saboteurs, and United Artists registering the title The Yellow Peril.

Immediately, the Hollywood war effort took off — from Davis opening the Canteen and Gene Autry enlisting on air to Marlene Dietrich renouncing her German homeland, and, of course, Betty Grable becoming the serviceman’s iconic pin-up.