Skip to comments.Celebrating a century of Hope
Posted on 05/20/2003 7:47:29 AM PDT by mikeb704
Bob Hope will turn 100 years old next week. Its said that hes made more people laugh than anyone in the history of the world, and whos to say that isnt so?
Guinness World Records lists him as the most honored entertainer in show business, having been awarded five Oscars and 44 honorary degrees. The Oscars were honorary ones, but they count nonetheless.
He was given a knighthood an honorary one, naturally by Queen Elizabeth. Congress designated him the nations only "honorary veteran." That recognition was particularly appropriate. Too old to serve on active duty in World War II, Bob Hope spent the next 50 years entertaining American troops.
Hope has always been able to adapt to the times. When vaudeville was in its heyday, he became a star and played at big time venues like New Yorks Palace Theatre. Radio soon became a major medium and he moved on to hosting one of its most popular programs for years.
Television came along and Hope jumped in with both feet, doing almost 300 shows for NBC. In a 1949 letter, the comedian wrote to a network executive: "Without a doubt television will really be going in a couple of years and we will have to put on our very best manners and do a nice little half-hour show every week. I dont think any less than that will do, as television will have to become a habit . . . maybe one of the nastier habits, but, nevertheless, an interesting one."
And then there were the movies. Teamed with Bing Crosby, another American icon, Bob Hope made seven "Road" pictures between 1940 and 1962. The two had a chemistry that lights up the screen. Most of the movies are pretty funny and employed features such as the actors speaking directly to the camera and ad libbing. Or so it appears.
My personal favorite is Road to Morocco." Some of the references to Pepsodent (Bobs radio sponsor) and the Kraft Music Hall (Bings radio program) may need explanation, but the story of two down and out performers trying to con everyone, including each other, has plenty of laughs. Theres even an infectious theme song sung by the duo on the back of a camel. They let the audience in on what to expect as they croon:
"Where they're goin, why were goin, how can we be sure?
I'll lay you eight to five that we'll meet Dorothy Lamour"
Anther favorite is "The Lemon Drop Kid." Playing a Florida racetrack tout whos touted the wrong guy, Bob needs lots of money quickly and heads to New York looking for it. Not dressed for the cold weather, hes reduced to swiping a dog sweater directly from Fido to use as a scarf. He plays the typical Hope character, a fast-talking, conceited, would-be Lothario willing to say or do anything to save his sorry self but who, at the finish, manages to end up OK despite all his failings. Hope and Marilyn Maxwell introduced the lovely song "Silver Bells" in this movie.
The last Hope film Ill mention is one you probably havent seen. 1941s "Nothing But the Truth" also starred Paulette Goddard, Willie Best and Edward Arnold. Bob plays a stockbroker. This time the character is a fast-talking, conceited, would-be Lothario known for his incapacity to tell the truth. Circumstances force him into wagering a huge amount of money that he wont lie for 24 hours. He ends up winning the bet and the girl while, as always, making us laugh.
The reason youve probably never seen "Nothing But the Truth" is that, unlike some of Bobs movies, this one is rarely shown on television. It was aired once that I know of, more than a dozen years ago. I happened to tape it.
My daughter Eileen watched the show with me and loved it. She wanted to watch it with me again. And again. And again. And again. I started to look for a 12-step program that would relieve her of her addiction. Ive never found one.
Eileens now in her early 20s. Shell soon be a married lady. She still loves Bob Hope.
She has custody of the tape and occasionally offers to bring it over so we can watch it again. So far, Ive been able to restrain myself. Its really unnecessary since Im able to recreate the script verbatim.
Bob Hopes appeal stretches across the generational divides. Even in another 100 years, people will still enjoy his talents and remember him for his contributions.
And not for the better unfortunately.
You're right. I grew up listening to Bob Hope and Jack Benny on the radio. My favorite quote of Bob's: "Where there's Hope, there's life!"
Easy. His selfless tireless, and heroic service and dedication to the Armed Forces of the United States. His USO tours brought laughter to countless numbers of our men and women for almost 50 years. Not only through the 'good' times, but the times when it was fashionanble to spit on someone in uniform. Unlike the fakes, phonies, and frauds in today's Hollywood, Bob Hope is the REAL thing!!! What a remarkable man! God bless you, Bob!!! Thanks for the memories!!!
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