Saints and Heroes
Folding the US Flag

Vaudeville - Motion Pictures
Radio - Television - On the Road: USO Shows


May 29, 1903 - July 27, 2003

To hear the Thanks For The Memories sung by Bob Hope
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 Name at birth: Leslie Townes Hope
Bob Hope was a triple-threat superstar of radio, film and television during the 1940s and 1950s. Primarily a comedian, Hope also acted, sang and danced a little, hosted his own radio and television shows, and carried on a famous comic feud with his friend and fellow star, Bing Crosby. Hope spent much of World War II traveling the world to entertain Allied troops, a service he also performed with gusto during later wars in Korea, Vietnam, and the Middle East; his entertain-the-troops tours became one of his enduring signatures. Though his superstar years ended in the 1960s, Hope continued to make appearances well into the 1990s. In May of 2003 he celebrated his 100th birthday with a typical wisecrack: "I'm so old they've cancelled my blood type." He died a few months later, in July 2003.

 Hope never won an Oscar for a film performance, but received five honorary Academy Awards for his contributions to the motion picture industry... He was a frequent host of the annual Academy Award ceremonies... Hope's love of golf was famous, and his annual golf tournament, the Bob Hope Desert Classic, became a regular stop on the PGA Tour... Hope was born in England but was raised in Cleveland, Ohio after his family moved there when Hope was four years old... Hope married Dolores Reade in 1934, and they remained married until his death in 2003; the couple had four children: Linda, Anthony, Nora, and Kelly.

Prompted by patriotism, and perhaps vaudevillian wanderlust, Bob Hope kept touring for more than fifty years. Returning to his professional roots, he took his variety show on the road to entertain U.S. troops wherever those soldiers were stationed. Hope's variety shows for the troops included comedy monologs, specialty acts, celebrity appearances, dancers, singers, and skits. His mildly irreverent humor, teamed with his variety troupe's beautiful women, provided a welcome respite for the U.S. forces, a reminder, in Hope's words, "of what they were fighting for." The fast pace, broad diversity, and informality of the overseas shows, with acts ranging in tone from brash to sentimental, gave U.S. fighting forces a supportive reminder of home, an essence of American life and values.

Fifty-eight years have passed since Bob Hope first entertained our country's men and women in uniform. Whenever there was a need, Bob Hope was there. Thanks to him, hundreds of thousands of soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines have had their spirits lifted.
In 1997, by an act of Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton, Bob was made an 'honorary veteran." Upon receiving the award, Bob said, "I've been given many awards in my lifetime - but to be numbered among the men and women I admire most - is the greatest honor I have ever received."

"The Spirit of Bob Hope"

In the naming of a C-17 for Hope, Widnall said, "We thought we'd give you, in a sense, an airplane -- an airplane which, like you, will go visit troops in some of the least enviable locations on the planet. After all, the folks crawling through mud and jungles don't really expect to see this plane any more than they expected to see you -- but the plane, like you, will show up. And this airplane will, like you, carry the spirit of American patriotism and freedom to the furthest reaches of the world."

McDonnell Douglas President and Chief Executive Officer Harry Stonecipher seconded Secretary Widnall's remarks, adding, "What could be better than to name a great airlifter after a great entertainer who -- going back to World War II and the Berlin Airlift -- has traveled far and wide in bringing the gift of laughter to millions of U.S. GIs around the world?"

The airplane named "The Spirit of Bob Hope" is the 31st production C-17 Globemaster III to roll off the assembly line in Long Beach. The Air Force has ordered 120 of the new-generation airlifters that are able to land in fewer than 3,000 feet, operate on runways and taxiways as narrow as 90 feet and can carry payloads up to 170,400 pounds with only a three-person crew. Since joining the operational fleet, the C-17 has performed humanitarian missions in Bosnia, Somalia, Rwanda and the Caribbean.


"A sense of humor is good for you. Have you ever heard of a laughing hyena with heart burn?"

Bob Hope in his joke vault.
Photograph, July 17, 1995.

To comedians, "material" -- their jokes and stories -- has always been precious, worthy of protecting and preserving. On stage, a good vaudeville routine could last years as it was performed on tour across the country. In radio, a year's vaudeville material might be fodder for one week's broadcast. Bob Hope used new material not only for his weekly radio series, but also for the several live charity appearances he made each week. In the beginning of his career, Bob Hope wrote his own material, adapted jokes and comic routines from popular humor publications, or commissioned segments of his vaudeville act from writers.

Over the course of his career Bob Hope employed over one hundred writers to create material, including jokes, for his famous topical monologs. For example, for radio programs Hope engaged a number of writers, divided the writers into teams, and required each team to complete an entire script. He then selected the best jokes from each script and pieced them together to create the final script. The jokes included in the final script, as well as jokes not used, were categorized by subject matter and filed in cabinets in a fire- and theft-proof walk-in vault in an office next to his residence in North Hollywood, California. Bob Hope could then consult this "Joke File," his personal cache of comedy, to create monologs for live appearances or television and radio programs.

The complete Bob Hope Joke File -- more than 85,000 pages -- has been digitally scanned and indexed according to the categories used by Bob Hope for presentation in the Bob Hope Gallery of American Entertainment.


Beautiful blonde spy (Madeleine Carroll): "Do you know how it feels to be followed and hounded and watched every second?" Hope: "I used to. But now I pay cash for everything." — My Favorite Blonde, Paramount 1942.


Hope, overcome at the sight of a glamorous Dorothy Lamour: "How did you get into that dress — with a spray gun?" — The Road to Rio, Paramount 1947.


Hope, boasting to heiress Paulette Goddard: "The girls call me ‘pilgrim’ because every time I dance with one, I make a little progress." — The Ghost Breakers, Paramount 1940.


Martha Raye as tourist in Europe, describing the merits of her boyfriend back home: "He’d do anything for me. When we were kids he ate a beetle just because I asked him to." Bob: "Sounds like a handy guy to have around the garden." — Never Say Die, Paramount 1939.


Michael, heir to a Rorutanian throne (Bob Hope), menaced by foreign spies, grabbing a phone: "Help! Get me the FBI — I’ve been kidnapped by three mad characters and a dame. Get me the manager! Get me the mayor! Get me the police! Get me Dick Tracy!"

Ruritanian spy: "Run, Michael, run!" Hope: "Run? Do you think I’m yellow?" (Gunshot) "Shake hands with a lemon!"

— Where There’s Life, Paramount 1947.

Ham actor, Sylvester The Great (Bob Hope) to Princess Margaret (Virginia Mayo): "I always work better with an audience — especially when they don’t outnumber me. My act is known all over Europe. That’s why I’m going to America."

Mayo: "You seem to have done quite a lot of traveling."

Hope: "Yes, with an act like mine. It’s safer."

Mayor: "Are you sure they’ll hire you?"

Hope: "Oh, it’ll be easy. They’ve probably heard of me. And if they haven’t, it’ll be easier."

Hope, threatened by a villainous pirate: "Don’t just stand there! Get me a lifeboat! He’ll make me walk the plank and I’ll get my notices wet!" Then as Bing Crosby makes a walk-on: "How do you like that? I knock my brains out for nine reels and a bit player from Paramount comes over and gets the girl. This is the last picture I do for Goldwyn!" — Both quotes from The Princess and The Pirate, RKO/Samuel Goldwyn, 1944.

Gentle Hope, impersonating a tough-as-nails Yukon prospector, bellying up to the Golden Rail Saloon bar: "I’ll take a lemonade" (adding hastily), "in a DIRTY glass!" — The Road to Utopia, Paramount 1945.

 7 Presidents Ribbed

Hope joked with, and about, 11 presidents, beginning with Franklin D. Roosevelt. A sampling of his typically gentle presidential jibes:

•Dwight Eisenhower. "I played golf with him yesterday. It's hard to beat a guy who rattles his medals while you're putting. Ike uses a short Democrat for a tee."

•John F. Kennedy. "Have you heard about President Kennedy's new youth Peace Corps to help foreign countries? It's sort of Exodus with fraternity pins."

•Lyndon Johnson. "How about President Johnson meeting with Vietnam's Gen. Ki in Hawaii? They've made a decision about Vietnam that should please everybody — they're going to close it down."

•Richard Nixon. "It appears that the president taped all his conversations in the Oval Office. I just hope that 18 minutes of missing tape included some of the bad jokes I told him."

•Gerald Ford. "It's not hard to find Jerry Ford on a golf course — you just follow the wounded."

•Ronald Reagan. "Nancy had some trouble with him in rehearsing their first dance for the (Inaugural Ball). It's not easy to follow a partner who keeps circling to the right."

•George Bush. "The Los Angeles Times gave George Bush a C on his 100 days in office. No one knows what Dan Quayle got. He claims he lost his report card on his way home from the White House."

10 USO highlights

Hope entertained for the USO every year from 1942 to 1990, appearing at military and veterans hospitals from 1973 to 1982. Highlights of his 30 overseas tours:

•1944. South Pacific tour logs more than 30,000 miles and 150 performances. Includes Frances Langford, Jerry Colonna and a young dancer named Patty Thomas. Standing next to a skimpily clad Thomas, Hope would crack, "I just want you boys to remember what you're fighting for."

•1948. A visit to troops operating the Berlin Airlift kicks off the first of 24 consecutive Christmas tours. Along for the ride: Doris Day and Jinx Falkenburg.

•1954. While performing with William Holden and Anita Ekberg (replacing an ill Marilyn Monroe) in Thule, Greenland, Hope begins filming the shows, then selling them as specials to NBC.

•1957. With bombshell Jayne Mansfield, who inspired this story: "Once in the Yukon, I asked an audience, 'Would you like to hear Jayne Mansfield sing?' And a GI shouted back, 'I'd be satisfied to see her breathe!' "

•1964. First visit to Vietnam, with Jill St. John, Anita Bryant and Miss World.

•1967. Raquel Welch dances for the troops in Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, Guam and Midway Island.

•1969. His most ambitious tour: Berlin, Italy, Turkey, Vietnam, Thailand, Taiwan and Guam. Also along: astronaut Neil Armstrong, Connie Stevens, Teresa Graves and The Gold diggers. Hope's 1970 NBC special based on this tour still ranks among the 15 highest-rated TV programs.

•1972. Last Vietnam trip. Along: Lola Falana, Redd Foxx and Miss World.

•1983. Overseas trips resumed with Navy ships in the Middle East. He brings along Brooke Shields and Vic Damone.

•1990. Hope's last tour is his most low-key: a hand-shaking tour in Saudi Arabia, where U.S. troops prepare for Operation Desert Storm. A quip from his appearance: "Stealth bomber, that's a big deal. Flies in undetected, bombs and flies away. Hell, I've been doing that all my life."

  "Thanks for the Memory"
From Bob Hope, Jan. 1999

Thanks for the memory
of forty years of fun
beneath the desert sun
in the Classic, that's a winner –
never less than number one,
I thank you so much.

Thanks for the memory
of a week of fun each year
that's brought me so much cheer;
exchanging jokes
with gallery folks
who come from far and near,
I thank you so much.

Many-a-star have we hosted
and many pros we have boasted.
my form and my scores
have been roasted.
We've withstood the test;
been entertained by the best.

So, thanks for the memory
of golf with Ink, Bing and Dino,
Ford, Palmer and Trevino;
a walrus, shark and golden bear
and the classic Ball extraordinaire,
and especially for you and me
what we've done for charity.
I thank you. So much.


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