When the Luce Auditorium opened in 1942, sailors and their dates crowded the theater to listen to famous big bands and see popular comedians. The most famous performers of the day including Nat King Cole, Bob Hope, Jack Benny, Tommy Dorsey, Edgar Bergen, and Lawrence Welk took special pride in performing for the troops. The 2,200-seat theater, which was one of the first military theaters equipped with CinemaScope, also featured Hollywood blockbusters in the evenings. Tickets were only 25 cents and that included popcorn.
By day, the auditorium showed training movies about life, health, and hygiene, as well as Navy structure and protocol. Recruits who stood outside and marched into the auditorium, received their training, and marched out with a new group right behind them.
Did you know?
NTC goes Hollywood! Several movies were filmed here including Hey Sailor produced in 1932, starring James Cagney and Pat O’Brien. Buster Keaton appeared in Tars and Stripes in 1935. Tom Cruise filmed scenes here in 1986’s Top Gun.