John Garfield

All Categories John Garfield Signed Photo from “Destination Tokyo”

John Garfield

Signed Photo from “Destination Tokyo” - 1943

Beautiful vintage sepia studio photo from the 1943 Warner Bros. film Destination Tokyo, starring Cary Grant and John Garfield. Dressed as his submarine naval character, “Wolf,” Garfield patriotically signed “For Victory! Johnny Garfield” in fine black fountain pen. In excellent condition with just minor fold marks on three corners. Early death at 39.

The back of the photograph is stamped “John Garfield as Wolf in Destination Tokio.” Posters incorrectly advertised the film as “Destination Tokio” despite Tokyo’s proper spelling appearing in the film’s on-screen title.

John Garfield (1913-1952) was an American actor adept at playing brooding, rebellious, working-class characters. He grew up in poverty in Depression-era New York City and in the early 1930s became an important member of the Group Theater. In 1937, he moved to Hollywood, eventually becoming one of Warner Bros.’ major stars. Garfield is acknowledged as a predecessor of such Method actors as Montgomery Clift, Marlon Brando, and James Dean.

At the onset of World War II, Garfield immediately attempted to enlist in the armed forces, but was turned down because of a heart condition. Frustrated, he turned his energies to supporting the war effort. He and actress Bette Davis were the driving forces behind the opening of the Hollywood Canteen, a club offering food and entertainment for American servicemen. He traveled overseas to help entertain the troops, made several bond selling tours and starred in a string of popular, patriotic films like Air Force, Destination Tokyo (as depicted in this photo) and Pride of the Marines, all box office successes.

Like many in Hollywood at the time, Garfield was caught up in the Communist scare of the late 1940s and early 1950s. He supported the Committee for the First Amendment, which opposed governmental investigation of political beliefs. Called to testify before the U.S. Congressional House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC), he denied Communist affiliation and refused to “name names”, effectively ending his film career.

Some have claimed that the stress of this incident led to his premature death at 39 from a heart attack. Garfield’s funeral in New York was mobbed by 10,000 distraught fans, a sight not seen since the death of silent screen idol Rudolph Valentino over two decades earlier.