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Tip: 'Canteen,' a snapshot of a WWII photographer

During World War II, Toni Frissell was one of America's best shooters. Frissell, the official photographer of the Women's Army Corps, brought the conflict home with her poignant photos of soldiers, nurses and children. She volunteered her services during the war even though she had a successful career as a fashion photographer beginning with Vogue in the 1930s.

Ward Melville Heritage Organization is holding a rollicking musical tribute to Frissell at the Educational and Cultural Center in Stony Brook Village. "Stage Door Canteen" will transport the audience to the days of GIs, Big Bands and war bonds. Performances at 11 a.m. March 17, 18, 23, 24, 25 and April 6, 7, 8. Tickets are $20 or $18 for seniors 60 and older.

If you enjoy opening nights, there's a special premiere package Tuesday for $55. The event begins at 6:30 with a wine and food reception featuring typical war canteen cuisine, such as corned beef on rye and the ubiquitous Spam. Performance starts at 7:15 p.m. Attending the premiere will be Frissell's daughter, Sidney Frissell Stafford, a Brookhaven-based photographer, and Col. Edward Monroe, one of the Tuskegee Airmen, who lives in Freeport. Frissell flew with the Airmen for two weeks during the war and chronicled the heroism of these African-American pilots in a series of unforgettable photos.

After the war, Frissell resumed her fashion photographer career, shooting, among other high-society events, the 1953 wedding of Sen. John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier for Harper's Bazaar. She was given the assignment by Harper's powerful editor Carmel Snow, and while the photos have become famous, they weren't initially published. Stafford says, "Because the Kennedy wedding was so highly publicized, Carmel Snow said, 'We're not going to use any of these.' "

Frissell, a longtime Long Island resident, died in 1988 at age 81.

Along with the show, the center is holding an exhibit featuring Frissell's photos. Admission to the exhibit is free. For a complete schedule of "Stage Door Canteen," go to wmho.org or call 631-689-5888.

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