Full Episode
This Is Bob Hope...

During his eight-decade career, Bob Hope (1903-2003) was the only performer to achieve top-rated success in every form of mass entertainment: vaudeville, Broadway, movies, radio, television, popular song and personal appearances, including his annual USO Christmas military tours and hosting the Academy Awards more times than anyone else.

A comedy innovator, Hope invented the topical monologue that later became a late-night TV staple and comedy tropes like talking while backing up. He refined a spontaneous, conversational, improvisational style of comedy as a vaudeville master of ceremonies that created a blueprint for acerbic standup comics.

Written, directed and produced by John Scheinfeld (The U.S. vs. John Lennon, Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary), American Masters: This is Bob Hope… presents a candid look at a remarkable life with unprecedented access to Hope’s personal archives, including writings voiced by Billy Crystal and clips from Hope’s body of work to reveal a gifted individual who recognized the power of fame, embraced its responsibilities and handled celebrity with extraordinary wit and grace, becoming a model for public service in Hollywood.

American Masters: This is Bob Hope… premieres nationwide beginning November 25 on PBS (check local listings). The unabridged director’s cut of the film, featuring over 35 minutes of additional footage, will be available to stream the same day via Passport for PBS station members (contact your local PBS station for details) at and on PBS OTT apps. This version premieres nationwide Friday, December 29 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings).

“Alongside an examination of Bob Hope’s extraordinary career achievements is a portrait of a gifted man with enormous personal contradictions,” says filmmaker John Scheinfeld. “Even in the longer cut, I barely scratched the surface of his huge impact and influence.”

American Masters: This is Bob Hope… features new interviews with Woody Allen, Dick Cavett, Margaret Cho, daughter Linda Hope, Kermit the Frog, film critic/historian Leonard Maltin, Conan O’Brien, Tom Selleck, Brooke Shields, Connie Stevens and biographer Richard Zoglin (Hope: Entertainer of the Century). Edited to evoke the fast, fun pace of Hope’s classic monologues, clips include highlights from numerous TV specials, his Pepsodent radio shows and classic films like The Cat and the Canary, My Favorite Blonde, his iconic Road pictures with Bing Crosby, and The Big Broadcast of 1938 featuring his signature song “Thanks for the Memory.”

The unabridged director’s cut also features Hope’s 1930s comedy shorts and delves further into his radio and TV career, USO tours and charity work. It will be available on DVD January 9, 2018, from PBS Distribution and is also available as part of Bob Hope: The Ultimate Movie Collection DVD box set on November 14 from Universal Studios Home Entertainment.

Launched in 1986, American Masters has earned 28 Emmy Awards — including 10 for Outstanding Non-Fiction Series and five for Outstanding Non-Fiction Special — 12 Peabodys, an Oscar, three Grammys, two Producers Guild Awards, a Critics’ Choice Documentary Award, and many other honors. To further explore the lives and works of masters past and present, American Masters offers streaming video of select films, outtakes, filmmaker interviews, the American Masters Podcast, the Inspiring Woman web series, educational resources and In Their Own Words: The American Masters Digital Archive: previously unreleased interviews of luminaries discussing America’s most enduring artistic and cultural giants. The series is a production of THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC for WNET and also seen on the WORLD channel.

American Masters: This is Bob Hope… is a production of Crew Neck Productions and American Masters Pictures. John Scheinfeld is writer, director and producer. Dave Harding, Richard Gurman, Richard Zoglin and James Hardy are producers. Peter S. Lynch, II is editor and co-producer. Michael Kantor is American Masters series executive producer.

Major support for This is Bob Hope… is provided in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities, National Endowment for the Arts, and Roslyn Goldstein. Major support for American Masters is provided by AARP. Additional support is provided by Rosalind P. Walter, The Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, Ellen and James S. Marcus, Judith and Burton Resnick, Vital Projects Fund, Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, The Blanche & Irving Laurie Foundation, and public television viewers.

The filmmakers and American Masters would like to thank our advisors for their time and expertise in making this documentary: James Baughman, Thomas Doherty, Michael Frisch, Kristine Karnick, Laurence Maslon, Clayton Koppes, Robert Snyder and Kathryn Fuller-Seeley.

Transcript Print

♪♪ The National Endowment for the Humanities bringing you the stories that define us.

[ Indistinct conversations ] [ Clack ] [ Cheers and applause ] [ Engine revs, horn honking ] [ Whistles, chatter ] [ Wolf whistle ] [ Cheers and applause ] -And there you go -- Bob Hope.

[ Crowd cheers ] -Thank you very much.

This is Bob 'Don't ask me where I am, because I don't know, and even if I did know, I couldn't tell, because it's a military secret' Hope.

[ Laughter ] I'm very happy to have the chance to tell you about our trip this summer, because it was really exciting.

And those troops in North Africa are doing their job, and they're all great guys over there, outside of one boy that I met while I was doing K.P.

This lad had been breaking all the rules, shooting dice, going AWOL, running around with women.

So I walked up to him, and I said, 'Son, what's the big idea?'

And he said 'Mr. Hope, did you give a pint of blood to the Red Cross last year?' And I said, 'Yes.'

And he said, 'Well, shake hands with the guy that got it.'

[ Laughter ] [ Cheers and applause ] -'In the summer of 1943, I signed up to play the European Theater of Operations for a new organization called The United Service Organization, the USO.

-I wasn't nervous, but I was shaking so hard, the pilot cut out both motors and my knees kept the plane in the air.

[ Laughter ] Halfway across, the stewardess tapped me on the shoulder and said, 'In case of trouble, the pilot is the last one to leave the plane.'

I said, 'Why tell me?' She said, 'Well, I don't want to make you nervous, but there he is down there.'

[ Laughter ] [ Engine revs ] -'It was around noon of a Saturday when we rolled into Palermo, Italy.

After lunch, my troupe and I played a large hospital.

I again had that realization of how marvelous all our guys are.

They thank you for being there, but there never will be enough that you can do to thank ♪♪ ♪♪ 'When we got back to the hotel, I hit the pad around 11:30.

All of a sudden, there was a distant 'Voom.'

I saw a tracer bullet go scooting across the sky.

Then all hell broke loose.'

[ Machine-gun fire ] 'The docks, which were naturally the target for the raid, were only about two blocks away.

One Nazi, obviously aiming for my room, also let go with all those machine guns on his way down.

After you've listened to a raid for a little while, you begin to be afraid that just the noise will kill you.

Then, after you've listened to it a little while longer, you begin to be afraid it won't.

That was the most frightening experience of my life.'

[ Explosions continue ] -It's hard to imagine today one of the nation's biggest stars putting himself in harm's way so often and so fearlessly to entertain the troops.

But that's what Bob Hope did, and he was almost killed a number of times.

On-screen, he portrayed a lovable coward, but in real life, he went where the action was.

In the movies and on TV, he was a breezy, light-hearted comedian.

But in real life, he was a man of many contradictions.

-Run! -Run?

Do you think I'm yellow?

[ Gunshot, glass shatters ] -[ Gasps ] -Shake hands with a lemon.

-Most people, if they know Bob Hope today, remember him in his later years.

What they don't realize is that he was arguably the most popular entertainer for decades.

He was a symbol of the American spirit during World World II.

And yet he became a symbol of the divisions in America during the 1960s.

-Can you imagine those peaceniks back home burning their draft cards?

Why don't they come over here, and Charlie will burn 'em for them?

[ Crowd cheers ] -Whenever I tell people how much I like Bob Hope, they say, 'You must be kidding.

He was that old Republican who would come out with a golf club.'

And they'll come up with the worst kind of appraisal.

And I understand where they're coming from.

-They can't do this to me. I'm an American citizen!

I pay taxes! Well, I'm an American citizen.

-But all I'm saying about Bob Hope is that he was an enormously talented comedian.

-I'm a regular Casablanca. -Casanova.

-When did they change that?

- Watching him work will make you laugh.

-You're lucky I haven't got a sword.


You keep out of this.

-Well, how much further we got to go before we're gonna get to the carnival?

-You're trying to tell me something.

[ Laughter ] [ Laughs ] Brother, would you care to try that line again?

I'll hold your teeth.

[ Laughter ] -I, for one, am speechless.

-Kermit the Frog speechless? -Mm-hmm.

-You must have a [ Laughter ] -What do I say to the younger generation who doesn't know Bob Hope?

'Google him! YouTube him!

Stream him! Download him.' Do whatever you got to do.

Just put more Bob Hope in your life!

Come on!

-Some fellas got it, and some fellas ain't got it.

[ Clicks tongue ] I got it.

♪♪ [ Siren wailing ] Please, no autographs.

-All right, Curly, what's the hurry?

- Officers, you didn't recognize me.

Take a good look at me. I'm Bob Hope.

-One crime at a time. Let me see your license.

-Oh, if my lawyer wasn't in the can, I'd fight this.

-Oh. So, your name's Lester Town Hope?

-Shh, shh, shh. My fans call me Bob.

-Sure, Lester.

♪♪ -'I was born in 1903 in London, England.

It was so foggy I could hardly see the doctor before my face.

My mother and father decided to name me Leslie Townes Hope.

At the time, I didn't care much about it one way or the other.

But when I grew up, I began to care, and it wasn't one way, it was the other.'

-His father was a stonemason who wasn't making a very good living.

He was an alcoholic.

When Bob was 4, his father went off to America to look for work, settled in Cleveland, brought the family over when Bob was about 4 1/2.

-It was a very tough life. They never had enough money.

They were always scrimping and saving.

In fact, my grandmother took in boarders, and dad was always scrounging around to get a few coins here and there.

-'I tried so many different ways of raising a dollar.

Any job that needed a strong back and a weak mind, well, that's where you'd find young Leslie Hope.'

-And the interesting thing about people that are truly poor when they're young is they don't find it romantic or funny or cute.

And I think Bob Hope hated his childhood.

He hated being that poor.

-Bob didn't finish high school.

In fact, he was sent to reform school when he was 15 years old for some small-time offense.

Not exactly clear what, but probably shoplifting.

And he spent a year and a half to two years in reform school, and that was the end of his formal education.

-'I grew up with six brothers.

That's how I learned to dance -- waiting for the bathroom.'

-One way to get attention in that family was to act out.

Bob had to learn to entertain.

He made himself the center of attention and he saw entertainment as the way to stand out.

-Dad used to go to the movies with my grandmother, who would single him out from the other boys 'cause she always felt he had kind of a talent.

She would take him to the movies, and they would then rehash the movies, and Dad would play the different parts.

He started going in front of the fire department and doing the Charlie Chaplin thing with the, you know, the cane.

And, uh, so I think that was his first taste of show business.

-'I took some of the money I earned and tried to improve my dancing by taking lessons from a black man named 'King' Rastus Brown, a former vaudeville hoofer.

I decided that the stage was my dish.'

-One of the most nostalgic chapters in the story is how I broke into vaudeville.

It happened way back in 19, uh, 19... Oh, well, what's the difference? But it was quite a while ago.

And my girlfriend, Mildred Rosequist, and I would rehearse an act and then try it out.

Of course, her mother was against it, but we managed to play a few dates around Cleveland, and then we got our first out-of-town booking -- a one-night stand at a town called Ottawa, Ohio.

Now, with Janis Paige playing Mildred Rosequist, let's go back to that day when we got off the train at Ottawa.

Wait a minute, let's run through the act once before we go.

-Oh, that's a good idea. -Now, don't forget, I'm standing in the center of the stage.

Oh, I'm not here, I'm not here.

-You're off in the wings, and I say, 'How do you do, ladies and gentlemen?

A funny thing happened on the way to the theater.

A fella asked me for a bite, so I bit him!'

[ Laughter ] Oh, pardon me, miss. Your motor is running.

[ Laughter ] Tell me, what do you got in the bag?

-Mustard. -Mustard?

-Yeah, you can never tell when you're gonna meet a ham.

[ Laughter ] ♪♪ -'The word 'vaudeville' is very dear to me.

If it weren't for vaudeville, I might never have been in radio or pictures, because it's really place where I gained all my experience, such as timing and ducking, et cetera.'

[ Chuckles ] -Vaudeville was the major form of American popular entertainment, starting in the late 1800s into the 1920s and '30s.

It was traveling live shows that had a series of acts, usually one headliner and a variety of supporting acts, and it was a variety.

There were jugglers, magicians, singers, dancers, animal acts.

-Bob Hope was of the generation that came through vaudeville at a time when, in order to succeed, you had to be versatile.

You had to be able to do a little of everything.

And indeed, he could sing, he could dance, he could be comedic, and he could act.

[ Mid-tempo music plays ] [ Cheers and applause ] ♪♪ -Bob was especially talented as a dancer, so it was no surprise that, when he entered vaudeville, it was as part of a dancing team with a little comedy mixed in.

-Bob had such style and grace.

And when he danced, it seemed so effortless.

He just seemed to float onstage, and you cannot fake moves like that.

[ Chuckles ] Well, you can, but then it looks something like this.

[ Grunting ] [ Tap shoes clicking ] Ha! Take it away, Bob!

[ Mid-tempo music plays ] [ Crowd cheers ] ♪♪ [ Cheers and applause ] -But Bob was no overnight sensation.

He spent eight or nine years in vaudeville really learning his craft and honing his skills as a performer.

-'It was 1928. I was starving.

I was down to 130 pounds -- the thinnest man in Vaudeville.

I owed money for food, for clothes, for musical arrangements, and I couldn't pay my rent.

I was so desperate, I changed my name from Leslie to Lester.

Then decided I better get something more chummy.

I thought Bob Hope would sound more like a regular guy, and I still starved.

I was wondering whether to go back to Cleveland.

I was ready to admit failure.

Then, a friend of mine introduced me to a booker who gave me a date as a master of ceremonies, and from then on, I never stopped.'

-The old-style vaudeville comedians had set routines.

They'd make jokes about their wife, or they'd have ethnic jokes.

Bob's innovation in vaudeville was to get away from all that.

Bob had to be spontaneous every night, introducing the act, cutting the show if it needed to, stretching it where it needed to.

And that prompted him to develop a much more spontaneous, conversational, improvisational kind of comedy.

-They told me, when he first started, he came up with this shotgun, uh, style delivery -- you know, bang, bang, bang -- and he wouldn't wait for the laugh.

He'd just go to the next joke.

-Well, election day is almost over, and I'm pretty tired.

My uncle ran for office in Eagle Knob, California, and I've been voting all day. [ Laughter ] But it doesn't pay to be honest.

I voted 12 times today, and I only got paid for 10.

[ Laughter ] -No one was faster and funnier than Bob.

Yeah, his jokes came at you so fast, you had to duck so you didn't get hit by a punch line.

[ Chuckles ] Hmm. Who wrote that?

-Bob Hope really was the inventor of what we, today, think of as stand-up comedy.

♪♪ -Ladies and gentlemen, this is part of my first vaudeville act.

You see, I used to come out and want to do about 12 minutes, just murder the audience, then, for an after-piece I would introduce my band.

I'd say, 'Here, ladies and gentlemen, is one of the greatest musical aggregations of all time, featuring that well-known crooner, Bing Crosby's brother, Double Crosby.'

Hit it, one, two!

[ Band plays ] ♪♪ [ Saxophone plays ] [ Laughter ] ♪♪ -Working all those years in front of a live audience, where you lived or died, there was no filter.

The audience responded or they didn't.

I think it taught him an awful lot.

-Just a moment!

What's the idea of smoking in the theater?

-I always smoke during intermission!

[ Laughter ] -That's terrible.

I can't be listening to stuff like that.

-We've been listening to [ Laughter ] -What are you, a smart guy?

-If he was smart, would he pay to see you?

[ Laughter ] -That's enough for me. Ushers! Ushers!

Throw the bums out! No, not me!

[ Laughter ] [ Applause ] ♪♪ -'All my life, I had dreamed of appearing on Broadway.

From vaudeville, it was only a short step to musical comedies, but I tripped anyway and fell right into a show called, 'Ballyhoo of 1932.'

With the experience I picked up in that show, I began to be in demand.

Then came 'Roberta.'

It was a beautiful show, with a score of hits and a cast that included George Murphy and Sydney Greenstreet.'

-♪ Now that you got me going, what you gonna do? ♪ ♪ Is it up to me, is it up to you? ♪ ♪ What kind of game is this we've begun? ♪ ♪ Was it done just for fun?

♪ We have necked till we're wrecked ♪ ♪ Won't you tell me what you expect? ♪ ♪ Is this to be a case of fall and glad to tell? ♪ ♪ Kiss and never tell, folly and farewell? ♪ ♪ Which is it gonna be, love or gin? ♪ ♪ Wife or sin?

♪ Let's begin ♪♪ [ Applause ] -'Of course, the most important thing that happened to me during that time was a beautiful, charming, talented, intelligent lady.'

-When Mother and Dad met, Dad was in 'Roberta.'

The show was doing very well.

And George Murphy, one of the costars, said to Dad, 'Would you like to go out and hear pretty girls sing?'

So, after the show, they went to this little club.

My dad walked in and my mother was singing 'It's Only a Paper Moon.'

And as he said, it was love at first song.

-Her name was Dolores Reade, and she was a singer -- a very good singer.

She was a very nice gal, too, and very, uh, unassuming.

-And just a few months later, in February 1934, they were married.

At least, that's Bob's story.

In fact, there was a little complication.

Bob was actually already married.

Bob had married his vaudeville partner Louise Troxell a year earlier.

The divorce didn't come through until the fall of 1934, so Bob could not have been married in February of 1934.

But at some point, we have to assume, Bob and Dolores got married and stayed together for 69 years -- one of the longest marriages in Hollywood history.

[ Beep ] -'Now, about this time, I had an offer to do a screen test.

And after the test, I asked the director what he thought of my acting.

and he said 'Anything you do after this will be a comeback.'' [ Beep ] -[ Laughs ] -It's her!

-'It's she.' -Yeah, it's she.

She's over there with a big party.

-Which one is she?

-The one that gives you the duck bumps.

-You mean 'goose flesh.'

-No, no, no -- Bigger. Duck bumps.

-In the 1930s, Warner Bros. had a studio in Brooklyn called Vitaphone, and they made short subjects, one- and two-reelers.

And they took advantage of the fact of being in New York, where they could draw on Broadway talent, top vaudeville stars.

They could get them to come out and shoot a short in a day or two or three, and it wouldn't interfere with their nighttime performing schedules on the stage.

And Bob Hope was one of those performers.

-What are the weekly rates for this, Bob?

-Oh, I don't know. Nobody ever stayed here a week.

-Well, how are the other rooms? -Oh, you mean the 50-cent rooms?

Oh, they'll never do. No. This is one of the better rooms.

-Well, what do you pay for this? -Oh, this 75 cents.

This has a rat trap. [ Chuckling ] Bring your own cheese, yes.

-They were serviceable vehicles, but they weren't really crafted for him in any particular way.

-Bob's comedy shorts didn't open any doors in Hollywood as he'd hoped they might.

But his Broadway career was rolling along.

-Dad was in five different Broadway shows in five years.

His last show was 'Red, Hot and Blue.'

It was a big thing for him, because he was starring with Ethel Merman, who was a huge star, and Jimmy Durante.

-When Bob was in New York, he was very snobbish about Hollywood.

He was a Broadway actor, a sophisticate.

But, finally, by 1937, the Hollywood studios were getting interested in Bob Hope, and he got offered a contract by Paramount Pictures.

-There's another one says she's your wife.

-Hello, Buzzy Boy.

-I hope you're happy now that you've put me in this monkey cage just because I missed a couple of installments.

-Number three coming up!

-Hello, Buzz.

What is this, a convention? -Obviously.

-Oh, uh, Mrs. Fielding, uh, Mrs. Fielding and, uh, Mrs. Fielding.

Uh, one and two, Mrs. Fielding number three.

A mighty touching scene here.

-Are you expecting any more?

No, I know when had enough.

-His breakthrough came when he moved to Hollywood to appear in 'The Big Broadcast of 1938' with W.C. Fields, Martha Raye, and a number of guest stars.

-The highlight of the film was a song that was written expressly for Bob and his costar Shirley Ross, 'Thanks for the Memory.'

-♪ Thanks for the memory ♪ Of rainy afternoons, swingy Harlem tunes ♪ ♪ Motor trips and burning lips and burning toast and prunes ♪ -♪ How lovely it was -Later on, you'd see him on television appearances and you'd hear 'Thanks for the Memories,' but I didn't even know what 'Thanks for the Memories' was about.

I mean, people in my generation, you'd hear... ♪ Dun, dun, dun, dun, dun ...and Bob Hope would walk out, and I didn't know what that song meant, but his audience knew exactly why that was his song, because it was from this huge hit that he was in.

And to discover it, man, it's great.

-♪ Oh, well, it was swell while it lasted ♪ ♪ We did have fun, and no harm done ♪ ♪ So thanks for the memory ♪ Of crap games on the floor -♪ Nights in Singapore -[ Chuckles ] -♪ You might've been a headache, but you never were a bore ♪ -♪ I thank you so much -He showed something to the audience that he never, ever showed again, to my knowledge, in any medium, and that was a kind of vulnerability and a sweetness.

And it's incredible how wistful he is, how appealing he is.

-♪ No tears, no fuss -♪ Hooray for us ♪♪ -♪ Strictly ♪ ♪ Darling, how are you?

-♪ And how are all those little dreams ♪ ♪ That never did come true?

-♪ Awfully glad I met you -♪ Cheerio, toodle-oo -It was a wonderful song, it was an emotional song... -Thank you.

-...and it was the moment that made Bob Hope a star.

-Thank -Oh, Buzz. [ Crying ] -[ Chuckles ] Darling. I know.

-[ Sobbing ] -I know, dear.

Ah, ladies and gentlemen, in just a few moments, we start our daily broadcast.

Now, I want you folks to sit back and relax and have a good time.

-In the 1930s, with the nation still slogging through the Great Depression, Americans wanted to laugh.

Radio was the dominant form of free entertainment.

Four out of five homes had at least one radio set, and the top stars were popular comedians like Jack Benny, Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy, and George Burns and Gracie Allen -- all well-established comics with familiar routines and characters.

[ Applause ] -Bob Hope had been on radio on several different adventures.

And in 1938, it was a year that was the making of Bob Hope, because that year, he started his 'Pepsodent Show.'

-'The Pepsodent Show Starring Bob Hope'! [ 'Thanks for the Memory' plays ] [ Applause ] -♪ We bid you all hello and welcome to our show ♪ ♪ May we present for Pepsodent a guy you oughta know ♪ -♪ Ah, thank you so much How do you do, ladies and gentlemen?

This is Bob Hope! -[ Laughs ] -No, no, not yet, Charlie. [ Clears throat ] [ Laughter ] Well, here we are with a brand-new sponsor, a brand-new program, a brand-new cast, and ready to tell some...jokes.

[ Laughter ] -When he got onto this radio show, he was not yet a household name.

He was younger, brasher, a little more irreverent, and more definitely topical than most of the other comics.

-And you know, the election has certainly done strange things.

I know one fellow who was broke before election, but he won so much money betting on the Democrats, he's now a Republican.

[ Laughter and applause ] -Will Rogers did topical material before Bob Hope, and he talked about what was happening in the news, but he was a folksy guy who told stories.

Bob took the topical material and added the fast-paced jokester kind of rhythms that he had developed in vaudeville.

And this topical monologue, we take it for granted today.

Bob Hope really invented it.

-The Democrats really put on a celebration last Tuesday night, but you can't blame them.

It's not every day that Roosevelt is elected president.

It just seems like it.

[ Laughter and applause ] -'Radio was a medium where, every week, more people would hear my jokes than had seen my vaudeville act in 10 years.

I had to deliver a new routine every show.

The radio season ran 39 weeks.

That meant I had to tell 39 times as many jokes.

Talented though I was, I knew I couldn't steal that many jokes in one year.

I would have to hire the best writers I could find.'

-Eight writers came out from New York to write the Bob Hope 'Pepsodent Show.'

None of us had ever written a radio comedy show before, and none of us knew what we were doing.

Especially Bob didn't.

-Now, ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to introduce one of the real geniuses of the theater, Mr. Orson Welles.

Here he is, right here.

[ Applause ] -Thank you very much. I presume you're Bob Hope.

[ Laughter ] -Well, yes, I am.

-Well, go sit down somewhere. I'll call you if I need you.

-Wait a minute, this is my show, I'm supposed to be right here.

What do you think Pepsodent is paying me for?

-Mr. Hope, there are some questions even a genius can't answer. [ Laughter ] -When we started the show, there was no Bob Hope.

We had to create a character for him.

-Bob was a braggart and was always chasing women, but he was the kind of guy who chased women, but when he caught them, he didn't know what to do with them, because he was a braggart.

That was his character!

-Bob was everyman.

He had all the characteristics of everybody around you -- uh, chasing girls, scared to death, would do anything to get a laugh, and so forth.

And we built that into a character that was based largely on Bob himself.

-This is dangerous. If this audience sees steak, they'll come right up here after it.

-Oh, I don't know.

They've seen ham all evening, and still here.

[ Laughter ] -Right now, I'm bacon [bakin']. [ Chuckles ] [ Laughter ] Alana... -He did represent a lot the audience in wanting to get the girl, wanting to be brave, wanting to come up with the answer, the solution, be the hero, and just wasn't quite up to it.

-Oh, pardon me if I'm a little nervous around you, Humphrey.

You're so tough, you know, when you walk down the street, the people run into their houses.


-And then you come on the air, and they run right out again.

[ Laughter ] Just a minute, Bogart. You can't talk to me that way.

-What's that? What's that? What'd you say?

-I don't know. I wasn't listening.

[ Laughter ] [ Up-tempo music plays ] -He had a series of comic foils and costars and regulars on the show.

One was Jerry Colonna, who had been a studio musician but who was a naturally funny guy -- and a funny-looking guy, which did no good on radio.

But he became known in his own right, and he worked with Hope for decades, and they were very close. [ Laughter ] -Now I'd like you to meet a member of our troupe.

The man who's been all over, a famous world traveler -- Professor Colonna right here.

[ Applause ] Oh, there he is.

-Oh, I've been to England, Russia, Australia, Africa, and Alaska.

-You've been to England, Russia, Australia, Africa, and Alaska?

-Yes. I'll get one of your checks cashed yet.

[ Laughter ] -[ Laughs ] -Bob's radio show was an almost-instantaneous hit.

He was in the top five after the first season.

He was the number-one show in radio in 1941 and continued through the World War II years and stayed in the top 10, certainly, through the entire 1940s.

[ Cheers and applause ] -Bob Hope, who was younger than other vaudevillians turned radio stars, he came along, and he was kind of this brash breath of fresh air, and America took to him.

-Join me, will you, Junior?

And let's sum this thing up musically.

-Yeah, wait a second. [ Ding! ] -You got a copy of it? Where the devil is it?

-I don't have it. -I don't have it.

I've been frisked. I've been rolled.

[ Laughter ] -Where the hell is it?

-I've been rolled -- -I don't have anything -- no talent, no script, I can't read.

[ Laughter ] You throw everything on the ground.

-What the hell is the matter with you?

[ Laughter ] -I never did have it. -Okay.

We're ready if you're through arguing back there.

[ Laughter ] -How does it go, now? How is the melody?

-♪ Chesterfield -- -Oh, yeah. -I'll show you how to sing.

-Take it from the last line on the commercial.

-Who the hell are you? [ Laughter ] -Come on, let's go. It's overtime, and it's on you.


-Join me, Junior. Let's sum it up musically.

-♪ Chesterfield, Chesterfield ♪ Always takes first place ♪ That mild, mild tobacco never leaves an aftertaste ♪ -♪ So open a pack, give 'em a smell ♪ -♪ Then you'll smoke 'em -Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen.

[ Applause ] -After a year or two, I think Paramount and Bob Hope, too, realized that he was establishing such a successful and likeable comedy persona on the radio, they should be exploiting that in the movies, and they started tailoring those movies to that personality.


[ Chuckles ] I'm not really frightened, I'm just naturally nervous.

-It just was this endearing quality he had -- that loveable coward.

He would be frightened just like would be.

So, again he was -- he was kind of walking in our shoes.

-You want to go first?

-Yeah. No. No. C-Certainly not.

Ladies always go first. -Oh.

-Go ahead. -Thanks.

-One of the turning points in his movie career came in 1939, when he was cast opposite Paulette Goddard in a very funny comedy-mystery called 'The Cat and the Canary.'

-You know, what this party needs is more drinks and more laughs.

I'll tell you, I'll bring a bottle of scotch from the dining room and we'll sit around here and drink scotch and make wry [rye] faces.

[ Chuckles ] You get it? Scotch and rye?

-[ Chuckles ] -Here.

I don't need a gun with jokes like that.

-And you really get a sense in this film of Bob, maybe for the first time, as the would-be ladies man whose agenda is full of holes, 'cause he can't quite make anything happen the way he thinks he can.

[ Clock chiming ] And she's hardly a damsel in distress.

She could handle herself pretty well, which was true of many of the leading ladies -- that they actually had more gumption than he did, which is part of the joke. -What is this?

-Don't talk, and especially don't scream.

If there's gonna be any hysterics around here, have 'em.

-He was like the guy next door, like the guy that you knew, except he had a kind of spectrum of tics and phobias and delusions that were hilarious, and he presented them so superbly.

-Mr. Percy?

-Yes. I... Haines. [ Chuckles ] That's not my real nose. This is it.

Well, I'll put it back on.

-We've all been afraid.

We've all been intimidated by a sexy woman, we've all been in over our heads and tried to talk our way out of it.

And then and no one does that in a funnier way than Bob Hope.

-Do you know what it feels like to be -- to be followed and hounded and watched every second?

-Well, I used to. Now I pay cash for everything.

-Look at me. -I'm looking.

-You've got to trust me.

-I'm not through looking yet.

-You can't really codify what it is about the person that's so great.

You know, some guy paints apples, and Cézanne paints apples, and his apples just are fantastic.

So, it's the same with Hope.

You can talk about it all year, there's just something inborn in Hope.

The tone of his voice, the timing, his physical appearance, the way he could kind of toss off those one-liners.

It just all came together in a way... -[ Screams ] ...that people just laughed at him, and they were well-earned laughs.

-We'll never get past that door alive!

-Oh, no? -No!

-Listen, baby, if I'm not out of that door in two seconds flat, my name's not Larry Haines.

-[ Gasps ] -Meet John Doe.

-All these films started building and shaping the Bop Hope character that became a top box-office star for the rest of that decade.

-[ Humming 'Thanks for the Memory '] ♪ Oh, thank you [ Telephone ringing ] Hello?

Oh, Madeleine.

[ Chuckling ] Oh!

Oh, no, I can't, Madeleine. Not tonight.

No, not tonight. I'm sorry.

Hedy asked me first. [ Chuckles ] Tomorrow night? No.

Well, that's Ann Sheridan's night, you know.

Well, that's fate. Yes.

Better luck next time, Madeleine.

Just... Well, I can dream, can't I?

[ Receiver clicks ] -My colleague. -My crony!

-My cohort. -My friend!

-Companion! -Confederates!

-Chums to the end.

-Like meat and potatoes.

-Or salt and tomatoes.

-♪ Boy, what a blend ♪ Don't put it in the paper ♪ Don't put it on the air ♪ Don't put it on the shelf ♪ Put it there [ Trombone plays ] [ Drum plays ] [ Bells play ] -Bob met Bing Crosby in 1932, when they appeared together onstage at the Capital Theater in New York.

Bing was a big star at the time.

He was a big recording star, he was in movies.

Bob was much less well-known, but he and Bing really hit it off, and they decided just to have a little fun onstage.

They would play around with some vaudeville bits and do some jokes.

The audience loved it, and Bob and Bing loved working with each other.

Five years later, when Bob went to Los Angeles, he met up with Bing again on the Paramount lot.

They appeared again onstage together at benefits.

At one of the benefits, a couple of Paramount executives were in the audience, and they said, 'Hey, we ought to put these two guys together in a movie.'

-[ Humming Paramount theme music ] -[ Humming Paramount theme music ] ♪♪ -Where I saw most of his work is the reruns of all of the 'Road to...' whatever, wherever, all over movies with Bing Crosby.

-The comic acting in those films, the 'Road' pictures, as they're affectionately known, would have to be featured in any class on great, great screen comedy.

-Turkey, from now on, you're sacred.

-What do you mean, 'sacred'? -You just became a full-blooded American idiot.

-No, do it!

Who's gonna believe an idiot?

-The beauty of the 'Road' movies is that they gave the public the impression that they were seeing the real Bob Hope and Bing Crosby and that this was just them having fun, and the audience felt as if they were being let in on something.

-Oh! [ Spitting ] -The chemistry between them was legendary.

I mean, Hope and Crosby were tremendous because they were both two brash, wise guys.

Crosby had a unique style and Hope had a unique style, but basically, they were both guys teasing each other and insulting each other.

-Come on, get aboard.

-If I'm too heavy, I'll throw my hat away.

-Yeah, leave your head in it, huh?

-They played off against each other so well, they developed a couple characters that were consistent through all the 'Road' pictures.

Crosby was the schemer, Hope was the patsy.

-Here's a funny thing.

A guy I've never seen before in my life gives me 2500 Kolacs.

That's 200 federal diplomas. Are you listening?

-200 skins? Why, what for? -I sold him something.

-Well, you've got nothing to sell.

We've already hocked your pivot tooth.

-Well, it wasn't much, but it was all I had, and was he anxious to get it!

-What did you sell him?

-Look, uh, Orville, I want you keep very calm now and don't get excited.

-What did you sell him?


-Oh, well, for a minute, I -- Huh? Me?! -Wait! -Wait a minute, get that guy and give him those fish back!

What's the matter with you?! You can't do that to me!

You can't sell me! You don't own me!

-Well, no, not now. No, does!

-I would watch him, as a little kid, in the 'Road' pictures and just always loved him.

And when I see him and I see his expressions and those eyes, they just -- they were so funny.

[ Soft music plays ] ♪♪ He could do more with a look or a glance than most of us could do with a monologue.

-Hello, boys. You new in town?

-Yeah. -Yeah.

-Join me in a drink? -Don't mind if we do.

-What'll you have?

-Oh, a couple of fingers of rot gut.

-What's yours?

-I'll take a lemonade. In a dirty glass!

-Well, I worked on the 'Road' pictures.

Not as a regular writer of the script but in additional dialogue.

What Bob would do is turn the scripts over to his radio writers to punch them up.

So we would add jokes wherever we could.

And we were seven or eight guys, so everyplace in the script that looked like it could use another joke, he had seven jokes.

-And Bing did the same thing.

He had Bill Morrow under a piano, writing jokes on the set for him.

-When Hope and Crosby figure out what their routine is, it just becomes so fluid and they're so effortless.

They're taking shots at each other, and you can see it's just fun.

-See, I never thought I'd have the biggest end.

-Oh, you've always had the biggest end.

-Where do you keep butter. -Hmm?

-It was great while it lasted, wasn't it?

-Oh, what a combo -- barrel of fun, a lot of laughs.

-A lot of snickers.

-Chester, we had a couple of things that money couldn't buy.

-Yeah, and I usually got the ugly one.

♪♪ -'It was really another dimension, working with Bing.

We used to hurry to work in the morning just to be there, because we had a lot of fun together.

You don't find that.

You don't find two fellas working together where they mesh and the chemistry is that good.'

-There we go again, Junior.

-♪ We're off on the road to Morocco ♪ ♪ This taxi is tough on the spine ♪ -Beats the bus, huh, Junior? -Oh, beats me.

-♪ Where we're going, why we're going ♪ -♪ How can we be sure?

-♪ I'll lay you eight to five ♪ That we meet Dorothy Lamour Yoo-hoo! -Whoo-hoo!

-♪ Off on the road to Morocco ♪ Hang on till the end of the line ♪ -What you have to remember, looking back at these films, is how revolutionary they were.

And that's not an overstatement.

-Sort of an eye to the audience like, that smirk, um, that kind of like, 'You and I know this is a big joke,' and that was the joke.

-First, you sell me for 200 bucks, then I'm gonna marry the princess, then you cut in on me.

Then, we're carried off by a desert sheikh.

Now we're gonna have our heads chopped off.

-I know all that. -Yeah, but the people who came in the middle of the picture don't!

-You mean, they missed my song?

-The idea of breaking that fourth wall, talking to the audience, making asides to the audience, making in-jokes... -Why the dirty... [Mouthing words]. -I told you they wouldn't let you say that.

-...that was all very, very fresh.

-Come on, help yourself. This is no sailboat, you know.

-I'm doing my share. -Your share?

You look like an agent standing there.

-That fire's pretty important, isn't it?

-Yes, it is. -Makes the boat go, doesn't it?

-That's right. -Supposing it goes out?

-Supposing it does. -I'm ready.

-Oh, well, that's -- -Pardon me.


-Hey, what do you do around here?

-Nothing. -You in this picture?

-No, taking a shortcut to Stage 10.

-The first one was a hit. That's why there was a second and a third and a fourth and a fifth.

Because they were so successful. successful.

-Hey, wait a minute!

What are you gonna do with girls?

-That's, uh, my problem.

[ Sultry music plays ] -Hey!

Hey! Hey, come back! Wait for me!

Oh, no you don't! Stay right where you are, folks.

This picture isn't over yet. Stay right there.

Keep your seat. Hey! Come here!

Hey! Oh, no you don't! No, you don't. No.

Stay right there. Keep it.

Hey, George! Jane! Ahh!

Hey! Oh, no! No, stay right there!

George! Get the writers, get the producers, get my agent!

Get a girl!

[ Music ends ] [ Rain falling ] 10 seconds to go.

Remember, now, this is a one-way street.

Forward. You understand?

All right, gang, let's take 'em. Follow me.

It's loaded!

It's got bullets -- loud ones!

-John, this is supposed to be a battle!

We can't have a battle without bullets!

-'It was May of 1941.

The producer of our radio show asked if I'd take the program out of its Hollywood studio for one show at March Field, one of our air bases, in Riverside, California.

I said, 'What for? There's no war going on?

Why should we drag the whole show down there?'

I was resisting an idea that was to change my whole life.

We had no idea we were gonna discover an audience so ready for laughter.'

[ Telegraph beeping ] -We interrupt this program to bring you a special news bulletin.

The Japanese have attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, by air, President Roosevelt has just announced.

-'Hollywood went to war in a big way.

Some of its biggest stars enlisted, and those who were not in the armed forces were giving their time, talent, and resources on the home front.'

[ Applause ] -How do you do, ladies and gentlemen?

This is Bob Saluting-the-USO Hope.

A great movement that's lifting the morale of our boys, the USO sends actors to all the battlefronts.

In fact, it's sort of a Lowe circuit with foxholes.

[ Laughter ] ♪♪ [ Airplane flying ] -It was an incredible statement of supporting the troops.

You know, that's a big deal, for an entertainer to go into these spaces where we are at war.

That is an incredibly ballsy thing to do, as well as something that really speaks to the kind of man that Bob Hope was.

-For the troops, he brought a slice of home, a friendly face from home, a radio star that they knew.

At a time when Bob was just traveling with a tiny little troupe of entertainers, no big entourage, he was able to go to places where entertainers had never gone before.

That forged an amazing connection with the troops.

-♪ Thanks for the memories -♪ You boys at this here base -♪ You boys who set the pace -♪ 'Cause you're the guys ♪ Who are gonna go [Raspberry] in the Fuhrer's face ♪ [ Laughter ] -♪ We thank you so mu-u-uch -It's not just Bob Hope.

It's Bob Hope and a troupe of hardworking performers.

-Well, I really hope you enjoy our show today.

We have a nice show here with Frances Langford, Jerry Colonna, Tony Romano, Patty Thomas, and Barney Dean.

-They are saying, 'We love you, we believe in you, we care for you, and we are grateful to you for your service.'

-Had a great ocean trip. Didn't scare us at all.

We had a few drinks in Canada, flew blind all the way, and here we are. [ Laughter ] Halfway across, the pilot turned around to me and said, 'Are you a little nervous?'

I said, 'Yeah, that's only my third time up.'

He said, 'You beat me. This is my first.'

[ Laughter ] I said, 'It's a little rough.

Don't you think we ought to have parachutes?'

He said, 'Don't be silly, The guys with parachutes jumped an hour ago.' [ Laughter and applause ] -He wasn't a guy working for money anymore.

He was like a guy on a mission.

He found something that was bigger than money, bigger than anything, which was filling the need of those guys -- the desperate need they had to laugh.

-He did things in the Army that were very dangerous.

He could've been killed a number of times.

I mean, he was in foxholes with personnel.

And I think part of that is what made the audience love him even more.

Because he just wasn't telling jokes, he was out there.

Bob Hope was embedded with the soldiers, and America loved him for that.

And rightly so.

-From somewhere in the South Pacific, we present the 'Bob Hope Show'! [ Crowd cheers ] -Thank you.

How do you do, ladies and gentlemen?

This is Bob Mosquito-network Hope, thanking you boys from Guam sitting in Spam, for making the Japs take it on the lam.

[ Laughter ] Yes, sir, isn't it wonderful what you can do on Spam, huh?

[ Laughter ] -He invented the way you entertain the troops.

A lot of performers have done it since, but I know all the rules were invented by Hope.

-You had to be funny, but you also had to keep in mind that soldiers were dying and buildings were being blown up, all of that, and basically, he did it by taking the viewpoint of the average soldier.

-But I had a swell time and I slept right in the barracks last night with the boys.

You know what barracks are. That's 2,000 cots separated by individual crap games.

[ Laughter ] -There's all these accounts that have been confirmed where he'd go and he'd entertain the troops, and then he'd find out that, you know, one division or one brigade was 50 miles that way.

They'd had to miss the show because they had been assigned over there.

And he'd say, 'Well, where are they?'

And they would get in Jeeps and go and find those people that missed the show, and do a smaller show for them.

-You ready? One more.

Nothing to it. My hand just burned off.

[ Laughter ] Are we winning? [ Laughter ] -Kind of the home-front ambassador, you know?

He went there for everybody that couldn't go there.

He was your representative, and he was being kind to them.

He was cheering them up.

He was -- He was doing what would do if you could.

He gave them a good time in the worst of times.

[ Laughter and applause ] -Well, why didn't you say? How do you feel, Jerry?

-I feel fine. -You're fine.

-I'm in the pink. -You're in the pink?

-Yes, I left the blue ones in the laundry.

-Y-- [ Laughter ] The only man in the world who can kiss a girl and give her the brush-off at the same time.

There he is. [ Laughter ] Look at that jungle. Isn't that a beautiful thing?

Look at that.

-Careful, careful.

-Huh? -Snipers.

[ Laughter ] -He brought irreverence to a situation where they were not allowed any irreverence.

I'm sure it was a great release for a lot of those audiences.

[ Whistling ] -I just want you boys to see what you're fighting for, that's all.

[ Cheers and applause ] Well, you know, all these boys out here have a plenty rugged time, Frances, but I still wish that I was one of these boys out here.

I want to tell you.

[ Crowd cheers ] -You know, Bob, I really don't think you could take it.

-You don't think I could take it, huh?

-No, you see, you have to forget all about fear.

-Well, that's for me.

-And you have to forget all about comfort.

-That's for me.

-And you have to forget all about women.

-That's for them.

[ Laughter ] -Frances Langford was going to sing to some of the wounded soldiers.

They were in a small army field hospital, and she said she just felt herself overwhelmed and brought to tears by the fact this young man was dying.

And Dad called her outside and said, 'This is not what this is about. It's not about you, Frances.

It's about this young man, and he needs you for this moment.

You're gonna see a lot of really tough stuff, and you've got to get past it.

This is a performance that you have to do.

You can feel sad on your own time, but you got to suck it up and do it.'

In order to do what he had to do with the troops, and deal with real life-and-death situations, he steeled himself, that distance and not allowing himself to really feel emotional.

It was something like -- You know, it was... It colored his life in a lot of ways.

-He just felt, you know, a lot of the guys he was doing the show for would never come home.

And he felt that very deeply.

And the fact that, in the middle of a battle, he could do a show and make them laugh, that was the important thing.

There weren't many who would or could do what he did.

-I want to congratulate all you fellas for being such a wonderful audience.

And I want to tell you, we hope the next time we see you, you'll be all sitting right in your neighborhood theater.

Good luck, and God bless you. Goodbye.

[ Cheers and applause ] -His shows are beamed back to the United States.

Parents are listening to the cheers of their sons.

So even though you're not seeing your son, you're hearing the voices of people his age, and you're hearing them laugh.

[ Laughter ] When you think of war, all you think about is death and destruction and sadness and loss.

But for a moment, you're hearing them laugh.

[ Guitar plays note ] -♪ If I had my way, dear ♪ Forever there'd be-e-e-e -And for the troops, he's a reminder of a world that they're actually fighting for.

He is a reminder of parents and girlfriends and wives and maybe even children.

He reminds people of a world that is so very far away.

And perhaps for some of them, he reminds them of a world that they are not sure they're gonna see again.

-♪ Just for you -♪ Just for you -♪ Just for you -[ Throaty voice ] ♪ Just for you [ Laughter in distance ] -♪ Just for you-ou -♪ -[ Growls ] -♪ If I had ♪ My-y-y ♪ Way -Whoo!

[ Cheers and applause ] ♪♪ -If we could be time travelers and we could go back to London in the late spring of 1944 and sit with General Eisenhower, who commanded Allied forces on the Western Front, he would've shamed us into understanding that the invasion of France was gonna be close.

This was gonna be close and it was gonna be tough, and it wasn't certain that D-Day would be successful.

♪♪ -This is Bob Hope speaking from a P-38 airfield.

What's happened during these last few hours, not one of us will ever forget.

How could you forget? We sat up all night by the radio and heard the bulletins, the flashes, the voices coming across from England, and it seemed that one world was ending and a new world beginning.

The sun came up, and you sat there looking at that huge, black headline.

That one, great, black word with the exclamation point -- 'Invasion!'

The one word that the whole world has waited for, that all of us have worked for, the word in which America has invested everything, these 30 long months.

Now the investment must pay for this generation and all generations to come.

And, folks, what a wonderful thing it is, and no matter the price, the reward will be greater than the sacrifice.

We hope that thought can go along with a prayer tonight -- the prayer of a whole nation.

God bless those kids across the English Channel.

♪♪ -The level of fear, the level of danger for four years.

Imagine that.

From Pearl Harbor until V-J day.

From December 1941 to August 1945, this country was fighting a huge, difficult, painful, costly war.

And then, suddenly, it was over.

[ Crowd cheers ] [ Heroic music plays ] ♪♪ -He was there, certainly when the country needed him.

And for every man and woman who wore the uniform, I mean, he was a hero.

-'I saw your sons and your husbands, your brothers and your sweethearts.

I saw how they worked, fought, and lived.

I saw some of them die.

I saw more courage, more good humor in the face of discomfort, more love in an era of hate, and more devotion to duty than could exist under tyranny.

I could ask for no more.'

♪♪ -This next, uh, gentleman, um, is, uh, is certainly one of my great idols.

I mean, I spent my whole childhood seeing his movies over and over and over again.

And then you'll notice, if you watch 'Bananas,' how much I've secretly copied and have been influenced by him.

He's certainly one of the greatest comedians.

I think, has done some of the greatest comedy films we've ever seen.

Welcome Bob Hope.

[ Applause ] [ 'Thanks for the Memory' plays ] -I read a quote by Woody Allen that he said 'Bob Hope is one of my favorites.'

Well, I revered Woody Allen.

Woody Allen was one of my heroes, because, you know, he started as a writer, like me, and then he got into performing.

-So, I loved Woody Allen, and Woody Allen says, 'Oh, I love -- Bob Hope really influenced me.'

And I thought, 'What are you talking about?

How did Bob Hope influence you in any way?'

Then I went back and I started seeing some of the movies, and you see it.

-Will you be all right? -All right?

This is my type of work! [ Growls ] Line up against the wall. Hurry up. I got ya covered.

Back up, all of ya!

[ Dramatic music plays ] I said, back up!

♪♪ Okay. Then back up.

Now, come on, fellas. Be sensible.

The least you could do is put your hands up!

Oh! Ha-ha! -Bob Hope is the guy who invented talking while backing up, smiling, uh, complimenting, trying to get out of the room.

'Good, nice, fella.'

You know, talks big and then is confronted by the reality.

So, the guy who is like, 'If I see him, I'll kill him!

That's what I'll do! I'll -- We kill him!'

And then, 'Aah! Ha! Nice! With the muscles!

And the sword is pointy!'

That whole thing, which I love and I've been doing since I was a kid, and I first thought I got it from Woody Allen and then realized, you know, it's Bob Hope.

-Are you quite through, gentlemen?

For if you are -- Beaucaire!

What is the matter with you tonight?! -Oh, I'm sorry, sir. I-I -- Oh! [ Blows ] I'm sorry.

-When you see him, of course, in a picture like 'Monsieur Beaucaire,' you know, he's just fabulous.

He's just knocking off those one-liners in a way that is, uh, you know, makes comics like me so jealous.

-But he doesn't even speak Spanish!

-Oh, don't worry about him. He'll make himself understood.

-Shut up, you idiot. -He didn't say anything.

-And his asides are so funny. I mean, he's such a funny guy.

-He had a charisma when he spoke, the tone of that voice, which is not matched by any other comic that I know of.

The very sound of his voice started to make you laugh, no matter what he was saying.

-You're fencing with a master now!

Take that, you swine! And that! And that!

Aha! Gotcha, huh?! That'll teach you, you scrounging cutthroats.

Gang up on me, will ya?

Retire. Four down, two to go.

[ Laughs ] Whoop! That did it.


[ Dramatic music plays ] -Your Grace, are you all right?

-Oh, it was nothing, just six of them and an evening sport.

[ Crashing ] Took him a long time to fall.

-I was so smitten with him when I was young that I felt if I, in my personal life, if I adopted his personality, his screen persona, I could get through all the tribulations of my life in the way that he seemed to.

I could go into any kind of social situation, and I would think to myself always beforehand, 'Okay, tonight you're Bob Hope.

Don't get rattled. Just keep that Hope attitude.'

-[ Sighs ] When you got it, you got it.

There's nothing you can do about it.

-And then, when I was working in movies, sometimes I could feel myself doing him.

-If you so much as come near the countess, I'll see that you never see the light of day again.

-If a man said that to me, I'd break his neck.

-I am a man.

-Well, I mean a much shorter man.

Of course, you think you're doing him, but it doesn't come out the same.

My stuff is not comparable to his.

He was just more gifted.

-Four fingers of red-eye.

Always feel like a drink before a killin'. The thumb, too.

[ Coughing ] [ Growls ] Nothin' stronger, huh?

-You know, one of the keys to being a great comedic actor is timing, and Bob sure had great timing.

He was quick with a joke, but, uh, he didn't have to say a word.

He just gave you that Bob Hope look, and you were rolling on the floor with laughter.

-You know, he's one of the best verbal comedians ever, but I can watch him with the sound off, and I'm laughing because he's constantly... He's constantly up to something.

-[ Laughing ] [ Tooth pops out ] -[ Laughing ] What do you know?

I pulled the wrong tooth!

[ Both laughing ] Got the one with the nugget in it.

[ Both laughing ] -I saw you pulled the wrong tooth.

[ Both Laughing ] -How about that?

[ Both laughing ] -I'm gonna give you just 15 minutes to get out of town!

[ Both laughing ] -The last town, they gave me minutes!

[ Both laughing ] -[ Laughing ] -[ Giggles ] [ Thud ] [ Indistinct conversations ] -And I get money, too! -[ Laughs ] [ Laughter ] [ Indistinct shouting ] [ Laughter ] -Bob wasn't just a great movie star.

He was a great businessman.

He was a great entrepreneur of his own stardom.

-Bob! -There's not a day goes by that Bob Hope doesn't get up in the morning, look in the mirror, and say to himself, 'How do I promote Bob Hope today?'

And he was the greatest marketer I have ever seen in my life.

-He got in the oil business with Bing Crosby.

He bought the Cleveland Indians.

-Of course, we're in a tough league.

You know, you wouldn't understand about that.

-What's tough about your league?

That's where the boys throw overhand.

-I didn't know. I never knew.

-And he started buying real estate in the San Fernando Valley and other parts of California.

In a few short years, he was one of the richest men in Hollywood.

-An article came out saying, Bob Hope, he has $800 million.'

And he panicked.

He said, 'They'll never laugh at me again.

Nobody likes anybody who has $800 million.'

Then his head writer said, 'Bob, do jokes about it.

You got to get this out of your head.'

-Do you mind? -Oh, me?

-Do you always fight over girls?

-Well, what else can we fight over?

We've never had any money.

That's for Washington.

-And you know, these things you hear about my money has been, oh, just blown out of proportion.

Really. -Yeah.

-Now, I am wealthy. I am wealthy.

I've got quite a bit of money, you know, considering, but I'm nothing like they print in these magazines.

That's a true story. -Why do they do that?

-I don't know. They do things for sensational copy, you know?

-Yeah. -And, uh -- -You don't need any, do you? -No. No, but, huh?

-You don't need any money, do you?

-Yes, yes, Dick. Yes. [ Laughter ] I'd like to get back to the hotel, Dick.

-[ Laughs ] -Bob Hope is kind of a cipher. He's hard to read.

You're not gonna ever watch an interview with Bob Hope -- I doubt you'll find an interview with Bob Hope where he opens up about anything emotional.

-Ever been tempted to be psychoanalyzed?

-Not up till now.

[ Laughter ] -Is this helping?

You know, when he goes on a talk show, you never hear anything, really, about And there was always the question, because of this dazzling personality and great, skilled performer, and all that stuff, 'Is there a real Bob Hope?: -Bob loved being famous.

A lot of stars today complain about fame, the loss of privacy, the press who hound them.

Bob Hope loved being out there. He loved his fans.

-He was gregarious.

He loved people, never turned down an autograph.

-He would have people come up to him and stop him.

And it was usually, 'Hi, curiously, and it sort of signified their relation.

They felt a personal kind of connection with him.

-He was amazing in that he responded to so many of his fan letters with personal replies, so his fans felt they knew him intimately.

The irony is, that in real life, Bob Hope was known by very few.

-He was entertaining all the time, and it wasn't even just 'the show must go on.'

The show keeps going on all the time, everywhere.

[ Chuckles ] -They said this.

He was addicted to applause, adulation, and laughs.

As soon as he got out onstage, he was transported into another world where he was happiest.

-He was a person who was always on the stage.

Whether he was really on the stage or not, he was always 'on,' and he was difficult to get to know.

Even his best friends didn't feel they really knew him.

-It was hard, on a personal level, I think, for those people around him, because he didn't always give in to emotional feelings.

He had a persona that eventually became part of who he was, and it was hard to get through that.

-He built this persona.

He built Bob Hope. He created Bob Hope.

And he was not interested in dismantling him for anybody.

-Keep that on.

You're gonna have to sleep in that.

-But that's not healthy. I'd like a nightgown, please.

-You'd like a nightgown?

What do you think you are, on Park Avenue?

You'll sleep in that or sleep raw.

-'Sleep raw'? What does that mean?

-Well, that's when you... I'll find something for you.

-''Sorrowful Jones' -- Now, that was memorable.

It was my first time out in a semi-serious role.

The script called for me to play a hard-bitten bookie who gets stuck with playing babysitter for a little girl.

The director insisted that I play it straight -- no gags this time.

-And you'll notice the level of commitment is really there.

And he stays in character, He's responding to things around him in the appropriate, believable way.

He's not acting like a bad actor and doing too much or doing too little.

He -- He's really acting.

-Hey, you better give me this book, and I'll buy you a new one, huh?

-Buy your own book, tightwad.

-Aw, now talking like that ain't nice.

I've been meaning to speak to you about that.

That's okay for you and me, but no telling who else might be listening.

-Do you mean God?

-Yeah. Yeah.

-He was a better actor than he let himself be.

I don't think he tested himself enough.

What he did was so surefire that I don't think he deviated from it much.

He could be touching.

He could be very appealing in another way.

-Daddy said there's nobody named God.

-When did he say this?

-When my mommy went away.



Well, I guess your old man did get kind of a tough break, but...what he said wasn't right.

Not right.

I mean, there is somebody named God.

[ Soft music plays ] ♪♪ -'No matter how strongly I feel about the word 'family,' Dolores feels even more deeply about it.

When we found out that she couldn't bear children, she began to bend my ear about adoption.

That's how we got our Linda.'

♪♪ -Brother Tony came along the next year.

And then, about eight years later, Nora and Kelly came along.

There's no question that Dad had probably more frequent-flier miles than anybody you'd know, and he was away from home a lot, growing up.

I think my mother tried to do as much as she could to sort of normalize things and have us not miss him so much.

He had a great habit.

He would send postcards from wherever he was, a lot, so that if he was gone for a week or 10 days, you'd have two or three postcards.

While we missed his presence, when he was home, he was very present.

I remember we'd have breakfast with Dad early, 'cause we were getting ready to go to school, and he was getting ready to go to Paramount.

And at the end, Dad would always leave before we did, and he would do a tap dance for us and then kind of shuffle off to -- to his car into Paramount.

So we used to look forward to that all the time.

♪♪ -To the outside world, Bob had an almost perfect marriage and family life.

He was married to Dolores for 69 years and had four adopted children.

In fact, most of those 69 years, Bob was not a faithful husband.

-Um, I don't think [Chuckling] Bob would want to talk about that much.

-Forgive me, Bob.

-And Dolores deserves some kind of medal for his Olympic philandering.

-I get a big kick out of introducing the very lovely Marilyn Maxwell.

[ Sultry music plays ] [ Cheers and applause ] ♪♪ -Bob had a series of girlfriends over the years.

Some were long-term. Some were short-term.

Probably the best known was the actress Marilyn Maxwell.

He was in a couple of movies with her, and he toured with her for several years and appeared on TV.

-Would you consider going out with a fellow a little older than yourself?

-Well of course, Bob. Why? Do you have a son?

-Yes. Uh -- [ Laughter ] How can you say those things?

-Well, you know, Bob, after all, let's face it, there is a big difference in our ages.

-I know, but I'm willing to overlook that.

I think that, uh... [ Laughter ] -One time, we were in London.

They had a big party. The wine was flowing.

We got to talking and reminiscing.

And Dolores was telling me about what it was like when they first met each other.

He had a reputation of dating all the starlets, Broadway actresses and chorus-line gals and all that.

And she said, 'I was very hesitant to even date him, and, of course, he'd call and call.

I kept turning him down, turning him down.'

And she said, 'Finally, he just wore me down.

And I knew what kind of life he was gonna have.'

And she had to weigh that.

'Is that worth what I'm gonna pay for it?'

But she said to him, 'There are a couple of ground rules.

And one is, don't bring anything home with you.

I don't want to know about anything.

And, number two, you raise our children Catholic.'

She was a devout Catholic.

So Bob said, 'Okay. Fine by me.'

♪♪ -I don't know how I felt.

In a way, I felt... You know, he's... I guess that's what guys do.

And you know, it just happens, he's a celebrity and it just happens that he's my dad.

Do I wish it hadn't happened? Yeah, I do.

But I think that my mother clearly knew what was going on.

And she had made her choice.

She loved him, and I think that he loved her till the very end and that he had a great respect for her.

Being Mrs. Bob Hope had a lot of strings attached.

I saw them together, and I saw how they were, and I knew that there was a special place in his heart for her.

[ Soft music plays ] [ 'Thanks for the Memory' plays ] [ Cheers and applause ] ♪♪ -Thank you very much!

That's, uh... television.

Well, they finally got me.

[ Laughter ] I want to tell you, it's a great -- Which camera is working? [ Laughter ] As far as the real reason I'm wearing this little outfit is the fact that a lot of performers die on television, and if that happens to me, I want to be prepared for it.

[ Laughter ] You're so anxious.

-Bob was one of the first radio stars to make the jump into television.

He was also the only major movie star to really start doing television on a regular basis.

The studios didn't want their stars to do television, because they thought television exposure would damage their value on the big screen.

But Bob didn't care.

He saw the audience moving into television, and he wanted to be there.

-Of course, you know, a lot of, uh, people have to bribe the cameraman -- a lot of newcomers -- so they look good. But of course, I've been in the business so long, it hardly seems necessary.

How's the new watch running, Joel?

All right, I want to tell you... -When TV came along, he decided he did not want to become a weekly television star.

You know, radio was a much easier medium.

You didn't have to do anything visually.

You didn't have to put on makeup or costume or build sets.

TV involved a lot of work, and he wasn't afraid of hard work, but he was afraid of overexposing himself, and he was still maintaining an active movie career.

-And this is one of Bob's great strokes of genius.

He realized that television could burn you out very quickly.

Most of the major comedy stars from the early '50s, they didn't last very long.

Sid Caesar, Jackie Gleason, Milton Berle -- they had their few years of heyday, and then they faded pretty fast.

Bob was the only one that lasted.

-I'd better get out of here.

Bob Hope's on television tonight.

-Oh, I like him much better on television than in the movies. -Why?

-On television, you can turn him off.

-That's the last time I'll come in this joint.

[ Laughter and applause ] -So, instead, he did a continuing series of specials.

-Incidentally, this show is a special.

Special -- That's the show that comes on instead of the program you stayed home to see.

-And they became part of the television landscape.

It was just something you always knew was coming up -- the next Bob Hope special.

[ Cheers and applause ] [ Up-tempo music plays ] ♪♪ ♪♪ -I think I watched all those early TV shows, and Bob Hope specials with my dad and my mom.

♪♪ They held him in a special place.

They'd seen his movies. More importantly, you know, my mom worked at Fisher Body during the war.

My dad was in the Army Air Corps.

We just didn't miss it. It was one of the highlights.

♪♪ [ Cheers and applause ] -Kiss me, darling!

[ Laughter ] -You got a line, you know.

[ Laughter ] -Say, uh, pardon me, bud.

-Oh, got a line!

[ Laughter ] -Of course, in the early 1950s, all the TV variety shows were done live.

And Hope was just so confident. I mean, he is.

He's so confident, and he's so smooth that if something goes off the rails, he's not worried.

-All the girlies call me Curly.

I kiss 'em quick and get home early.

♪ Hold you in my When I kiss a girl, she flips, 'cause I've got, I've got -- I've got -- I've got muscles in my lips!

[ Laughter ] -Every week was a high-wire act.

Bob could do the scripted monologues.

He could do the sketches.

And when things went wrong, Bob could ad-lib.

-[ Groans ] -Hurry up!

-♪ Someone took you I've got it.

♪ Someone took you -Get my agent!

-♪ Out of my arms ♪ Still I feel the thrill of your charms ♪ -A girl like you, I like a heap.

Will you get up? My foot's asleep!

[ Laughter ] -Bob Hope knew that mistakes are gold, that the written sketch is there as, uh, I always think, kind of the jungle gym that you're supposed to play on, but then it's what you do with it that is ultimately the magic, and something going wrong can obviously be fantastic.

-Hey, I'm gonna blow your brains out.

[ Laughter ] [ Applause ] -[ Clears throat ] Let's not do any jokes we didn't plan on, huh?

[ Laughter ] -You can screw up a line. You can make a mistake.

You can laugh when you're not supposed to laugh.

And people will just be with you because you look like you're having the best time in the world.

That fun, it's infectious. It's contagious.

-Rosie! -Fingers!

-Jellyroll! -Finger!

-Rosie! -Jellyroll!


[ Laughter ] -Fingers!


[ Laughter continues ] -Jellyr-- -Fingers!

-[ Laughs ] -Rosie!


We sound like a bunch of long-playing idiots.

So, the minute my back's turned... [Laughs] -Yeah? make a pass at my Rosie, huh?

-[ Laughing ] Fingers, please.

-This is the lousiest thing I've ever been in.

[ Laughter ] [ Applause ] -'I honestly think that the secret of TV is to be relaxed, casual, and easy.

I used to work very fast on the radio because I found out when I was working for service audiences, they wanted it fast.

They didn't want situation comedy.

They wanted jokes, and they wanted them right now.

The truth is, when you're right in the room with those who watch you and listen to you, as you are on TV, it's as much the way you say it as what you say.

I've slowed down for television, especially with my monologues.'

-Thank you very, very much.

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.

I'm happy to be back on television, a new season.

And I want to tell you I can't shoot a gun, I can't ride a horse, and I'm not a private eye.

[ Laughter ] But here I am, ladies and gentlemen.

Welcome to 'Frontier Coward.'

[ Laughter ] -Bob Hope's pride and joy was always his monologue.

-Of course, most of the comedy shows go off television for the summer, except that one in Washington. [ Laughter ] -It was an incredible achievement to go and talk about the news and talk about it in a very confident way and sort of be out there and doing that.

So, this very new medium of television, you know, it's very modern.

-There was no other comedian that came out at that time and did topical monologues, and Hope just dealt them off, you know, the big, grinning personality he had.

-Ike wanted some peace and quiet, and La Quinta is the perfect place for him.

It's the perfect hideaway.

The Russians can't find it. The Democrats can't afford it.

[ Laughter ] -He would read the room and feel it, so it was like it was a live organism, his monologue.

-No, did you read, they're installing a direct teletype between Moscow and Washington?

Isn't that nice?

If there's a war, we'll be the first to know.

[ Laughter ] And you know how we sold the Communists on the idea?

We told them it was a party line.

[ Laughter ] -His timing is absolutely pitch-perfect.

-He was born with it. He never missed.

He never mistimed a joke. -I suppose you read where Elvis Presley passed his Army physical.

I feel a lot safer now, don't you?

[ Laughter ] [ Cheers and applause ] Yes, sir, the doctors have okayed Elvis for the Army.

Now the Army is checking the doctors.

[ Laughter ] -Well, here's a secret of his. He would finish a joke, and then he'd say, 'And I want to tell you...' -But I want to tell you... [ Laughter ] And I want to tell you... [ Laughter ] But I want to tell you... But I want to tell you... I want to tell you... [ Laughter ] I want to tell you... -But he didn't want to tell you anything!

He just wanted you to know the joke was over.

It was his own personal kind of timing.

It was extraordinary.

-When word got out that President Johnson was leaving the country, everyone was so helpful.

Bobby Kennedy rushed right over to help him pack.

[ Laughter ] And LBJ is gonna visit all our allies over there.

He may be back the same day.

[ Laughter ] -He preceded Johnny Carson. He preceded Jay Leno.

He preceded the kind of people we think of as doing that kind of daily, topical humor, if you want to bring it up to Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and people like that.

Everyone we think of today who does that on a nightly or a weekly basis owes some debt to Bob Hope.

-Thank you very much.

[ Applause ] Never wear blue when I wear blue.

-I didn't know... [ Laughter ] 21-02 pick-up.

-[ Mouthing words ] -'I do love television.

And I don't want anyone to get the impression that I'm the longest-running one-man show in history.

Nothing could be farther from the truth.

I've had more help in my career than a starlet with a stuck zipper.

And I don't know how to thank all the stars I've worked with over the years.

I've worked with most everybody.'

-We're the Happiness Boys. I'm Ernie.

-And I'm...confused because I didn't see it.

I'm sorry.

They say my feet are naturals.

-Yeah. A size 7 and a size 11.

-[ Laughs ] They tell me my feet are naturals!

[ Laughing ] ♪♪ [ Laughter and applause ] -♪ Thanks for the memory -♪ Ah, but strictly ♪ -♪ Darling, how are you?

♪ And how are all those little dreams? ♪ -♪ That never did come true?

-♪ Awfully glad I met you -♪ Cheerio, toodle-oo-oo-oo!

[ Laughter ] -♪ And thank you so much [ Cheers and applause ] ♪♪ [ Cheers and applause ] -That's just perfect!

[ Cheers and applause ] -Aw! Aw! I can't go on!

Aw! No food! No water!

Aw! It's all my fault!

We're done for! It's got me!

Ha-ha, ha-ha, ha-ha-ha!

I can't stand it! No food! No nothing!

No food! No water!

Ha-ha-ha-ha! No food!


[ Laughs ] -What's the matter with you, anyway?

There's New York.

We'll be picked up in a few minutes.

-You had to open your big mouth, ruining the only good scene I got in the picture.

I might have won an Academy Award!

-When Bing got his Oscar for 'Going My Way,' I think Dad was a little bit jealous, maybe.

-Bing Crosby got an Academy Award.

He says, 'I've got to get an Academy Award.'

So I brought him several stories that I thought were good enough that he could do it.

He would always turn them down 'cause he couldn't see enough jokes in them. You know?

He wanted to do it both, and you can't do that.

-Judge, I don't know anything show business.

I've been on the stage all my life.

I didn't think there was anything wrong in wanting my kids up there with me.

If I was a carpenter, I could bring them up as carpenters, and nobody would drag me into court.

Maybe your father was a judge.

This is all I know.

I'm a song-and-dance man.

-So if we did a serious scene, the first thing he did when the camera stopped, he'd make a joke to break up the crew so he could get a laugh and go one, 'cause if he didn't get a laugh he felt he wasn't getting across.

-When he wanted to be, he could be a good actor.

I don't know how much he wanted to stretch himself, but he was willing to do other types of things than his routine, formula comedies.

'The Seven Little Foys' is one of the most successful.

And I think he must have felt at home because it's about vaudeville.

-Watch this!

[ Joint creaks ] [ Laughter ] Let's see the theater's oldest boy wonder match that.

-Clear the table. Make way for the main course.

[ Dishes clinking ] Don't let that frighten you.

Come on, Pops. [ Laughter ] -Great entertainment is timeless, is ageless.

Watch him dance with Jimmy Cagney if you want to put a big smile on your face.

-Now, do you know any of my soft-shoe routines?

-I know every routine you ever did.

I did 'em first. [ Laughter ] -And I did 'em right. [ Laughter ] Marissa, a little 'Mary'? [ Piano plays 'Mary' ] [ Applause ] ♪♪ [ Applause ] -Shh.

♪♪ [ Applause ] ♪♪ [ Applause ] ♪♪ [ Applause ] ♪♪ [ Applause ] ♪♪ [ Applause ] ♪♪ [ Laughter ] ♪♪ [ Cheers and applause ] [ Laughter ] ♪♪ [ Cheers and applause ] ♪♪ -This is the big night that everyone has waited for, here in the motion-picture industry.

-Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Bob Hope.

[ Cheers and applause ] [ 'Thanks for the Memory' plays ] -I think he was the ideal Oscar host because, first off, he was part of Hollywood.

He was the movies, part of the Hollywood community.

He already had a reputation for being flippant, so nobody was surprised when he took that pose.

-And keep your eyes on the losers tonight as they applaud the winners.

You'll see great understanding, great sportsmanship, great acting.

[ Laughter ] -He did the first Oscars back in 1940.

That was the year that 'Gone with the Wind' swept everything.

And at that time, the Oscars were broadcast live, on the radio.

-The next introduction is the Rhett Butler of the Year, Bob Hope.

[ Applause ] -Thank you, ladies and gentlemen.

Really, I think this is a wonderful thing, a benefit like this for David Selznick, and I want to tell you... [ Laughter ] -The first year the Oscars were televised, in 1953, they approached Dad and asked him if he would host, and of course, that was the beginning of many more televised Oscars for him.

♪♪ -I used to be in the dressing room with him before he went on, and I would be talking to him, and he wouldn't hear one word.

And he would be babbling -- literally babbling -- before he went on.

And I would take him out on the stage and up behind that curtain, and he'd be hanging on to me like I was a life preserver.

And my arm would be black-and-blue by the time I left there.

And then 'Thanks for the Memory' would start to play, and another human being would walk out on that stage who was the most magnificent performer you ever saw in your life.

[ Laughter ] -But it seems to me, Jimmy, that they just give awards like, for, uh, for dramatic pictures and musical epics... while I, of course, do comedy.


[ Laughter ] [ Applause ] -And, of course, he also used it as comic fodder, that he never won an Oscar, and that was a joke he extended for decades with great success.

-And, of course, I like to be here just in case.

[ Laughter ] You can never tell.

Some year, there might be one left over.

[ Laughter ] I've had a speech in this pocket for 14 years.

[ Laughter ] Anyway, ladies and gentlemen, here we are once again.

Welcome to the Academy Awards, or, as it's known at my house, Passover.

[ Laughter ] [ Applause ] -I would like to take a personal moment to, uh, say hello to someone who inspired me to host this show.

I've done it four times now. He did it 17 times.

Ladies and gentlemen, sitting right over here, Mr. Bob Hope.

[ Cheers and applause ] -Please help me.

-Here he is, one of the great laugh-makers of America and the life chairman of cerebral palsy, Mr. Bob Hope right here. -There he is!

[ 'Thanks for the Memory' plays ] [ Applause ] -Thank you very much.

Thank you.

I'm very, very thrilled to be here.

This is going on for 25 hours, ladies and gentlemen.

It'll be on -- You'll see so many stars here tonight.

You never know who's gonna come out here.

Just keep your sets on, run next door, call your relatives, everybody you know has a TV set, tell them to tune in to this show.

-Probably the most important legacy of Bob Hope was his public-service work.

He was really the model for public service in Hollywood.

What he said to his fellow Hollywood stars was, 'You're famous. You have an obligation to use your fame to do good, to work for causes.'

-I've been associated with Community Chest drives for the past 10 or 12 years, and I know the importance of this particular project.

I know it embodies many, many charities, and I know you can't do a nicer thing in your life, ladies and gentlemen.

Just contribute to this Community Chest and also enrich your own community.

There's nothing better. Thank you very much.

-That work he did, that obligation he felt was an excellent example for people in our business.

Where he stood, he made it very easy to understand that, and he made us all very conscious that that was there as part of this gift you've been given of success.

-Many years, he did from 100 to 150 benefits a year, and they were benefits for all kinds of things.

He used to always say to us, you don't have to be a comedian, you don't have to be anybody special.

You can always give back.

-The United States Government gave the USO the duty of serving the boys in our armed forces.

Your share, though contributed impersonally in dollars and checks, is transformed by the USO into an unforgettable service.

I don't say you must give until it hurts.

I say give until it wouldn't hurt you to look a bedridden veteran in the eye.

-Synonymous with Bob Hope, when I was growing up, was USO and entertaining the troops.

[ Cheers and applause ] -What the hell do you mean, 'Get out of the way'? [ Laughter and applause ] I'm the star!

-Everybody in my generation knew that he entertained the troops and he invented entertaining the troops.

What I didn't know was how of his career he devoted to it.

-After World War II, Bob thought his mission to bring laughter to the armed forces was over.

But in December 1948, President Truman asked him to return to Germany to entertain airmen taking part in the Berlin Airlift.

Two years later, he visited troops during the Korean War, and by the mid-1950s, he had started an annual tradition of traveling somewhere in the world to entertain U.S. forces every Christmas.

-This is very nice. Somebody gave me this.

Would you like to play the back 9 in Beirut?

-[ Laughs ] -From Vietnam to his last Christmas show, in 1991 during Operation Desert Storm, wherever our fighting men and women were in the world, Bob Hope and his troupe were there.

-This is the first stop on our Christmas tour -- the Panama Canal Zone.

I just thought I'd drop in and rinse out a few things.

[ Laughter ] Well, here we are, ladies and gentlemen, at Nouasseur Air Force Base here in French Morocco.

'Nouasseur' -- That's an Arabian word meaning 'Overseas Alcatraz.'

[ Laughter ] Very thrilled to be here.

I am in Alaska, ladies and gentlemen.

So much for your early-warning system.

[ Laughter ] Ladies and gentlemen, we're here at Gitmo.

Guantanamo's a Navy term meaning 'I hear ya knockin', but you can't come in.'

[ Laughter ] -Once you were on that stage, it was like a light switch came on.

[ Mid-tempo music plays ] He would become energized and complete -- a different type of an energy.

[ Crowd cheers ] ♪♪ And he wanted every single member of the troop to feel that he was doing this show just for them so that they got the feeling that he really got it, that they mattered to him.

[ Cheers and applause ] -'In 1964, the Defense Department sent me and my troupe to Vietnam.

Our exact destination was kept secret even from us, as I was deemed a prime target for the Vietcong.'

[ Cheers and applause ] -Hey, you.

[ Explosion ] [ Indistinct shouting ] 'When we pulled up to our hotel in Saigon, police were holding back a crowd we thought was waiting for A few minutes before this, a hotel across the street from ours was bombed.

Several people were killed, and dozens were wounded.

Later, the reported this, 'It was discovered today that the Vietcong leadership has rebuked some of its Saigon terrorists for failing to kill Bob Hope and his entertainment troupe.'' [ Cheers and applause ] And I want to thank General Westmoreland for that wonderful welcome yesterday.

[ Laughter ] Oh... [ Laughter ] We opened with a bang, I want to tell ya.

[ Laughter ] -There's been some criticism of him in the Vietnam era.

[ Cheers and applause ] -Hello, advisers.

[ Laughter ] Here we are in Bien Hoa. That's Vietnamese for 'Duck.'

[ Laughter ] -But those specials were enormously popular.

-It's nice to be here at President Johnson's operation.

[ Laughter ] I forgot to burn my draft card, and here I am.

[ Laughter ] -It would not be an exaggeration to say that Bob Hope's World War II tours had seared images in his mind of the sacrifice of those servicemen.

Bob Hope knew that he'd seen men who didn't come back.

And now, 20 years later, to be a citizen of a country which was not sure that a war that it's government felt it needed to fight was worth fighting didn't make any sense to Bob Hope.

-This is a very difficult war we're in here, Bob.

It's a complicated war, a sometimes frustrating war, but I think it's a war that we must win.

-In Vietnam, he began to be associated with the side in this country that was intolerant of dissent and completely committed to victory in Southeast Asia, whatever the costs.

-I wan to tell you guys, the country's behind you 50%. [ Laughter ] The Defense Department was very sporting.

This year, they gave me my choice of either combat zone -- Vietnam or Berkeley.

[ Laughter ] -In his early career, Bob was really a rebel.

Suddenly, in the 1960s, he's the older generation.

Comedians in the 1960s, Lenny Bruce and that generation, they were anti-establishment.

Bob Hope the establishment.

-Hey, did you read about that rock festival in upstate New York that was attended by 400,000 hippies?

It was held in a cow pasture.

[ Laughter ] I can't think of a better place for it.

[ Laughter and applause ] -I think there was a little bit of truth to the fact that Dad got out of touch with what was going on.

I think, just as the people in the White House tend to lose contact with the people that voted them into office, that very much happened to Dad.

-American support for Vietnam is relatively strong until 1968, and then more Americans disagree with the war than agree with it.

Americans are against this war, but Bob Hope's commitment to the war never flagged.

There's no evidence that he began to doubt it.

And as opposition grew, he got more militant.

-History will have to decide what criticism is valid.

But, yes, he hurt his career.

He couldn't believe that anybody would be in an audience who didn't like him, and the war caused that to happen.

-Now, men, I bring you great news from the Land of Liberty.

It's still there. [ Laughter ] You may have to cross a picket line to see it, but it's there. [ Laughter ] [ Cheers and applause ] -It changed everything for me.

'69, I grew up.

I grew up a lot.

[ Cheers and applause ] I was in Vietnam.

I was with a lot of young boys who didn't want to be there.

I was with a lot of young men who were the bravest I had ever seen.

[ Crowd cheers ] ♪♪ That day that, uh, he said, uh, 'The President's doing everything he can to get you home,' they did not like that.

They didn't feel it was truthful.

And, uh, there was a lot of discomfort and talking.

And a few boys booed, and it was just getting out of hand.

[ Crowd booing ] He was shocked by it.

Like, 'What?'

And he hollered for me.

And he said, uh, 'Sing 'em a little something.'

-[ Laughs ] And I looked around. [ Gasps ] And I said, 'Well, it's Christmas Eve.

And, uh, I know your families would love to be here and hold you real tight and squeeze ya,' and just talked to them like that, like I would.

And I started to sing 'Silent Night.'

[ 'Silent Night' plays ] ♪♪ ♪ Silent night ♪ Holy night All of a sudden, way in the back, some of the boys started singing with me.

♪ All is bright And pretty soon they all started singing.

-♪ Round yon virgin ♪ Mother and child ♪ Holy infant ♪ So tender and mild ♪ Sleep in heavenly ♪ Peace ♪ Sleep in heavenly ♪ Peace And I just remember standing there, realizing the enormity of that, and I just burst out crying.

[ Sniffles ] -Bob Hope was someone who spoke to -- or, at least, in Nixon's mind -- to the silent majority, to the people that Nixon felt he needed to connect with, to continue the war in Vietnam.

Bob Hope was their entertainer.

And -- And being with Bob Hope was reassuring to Nixon.

What's remarkable about this, besides the fact that Richard Nixon is talking about the military situation in Vietnam with an entertainer, is the way they ratchet each other up.

They are both so angry with the fact that the American people are not completely behind this effort.

-I know that it bothered him, and I know that he got annoyed when people would say that he was a hawk.

-Well, it's very good to see you.

And I want to wish you as Merry a Christmas as you can have.

You understand? Very proud of you.

-'I was a hawk in Vietnam, as long as there was a chance to win the war.

I don't think that anyone who's right-thinking would give me a bum rap on the fact that I entertained troops.

The fact that it wasn't a popular war, our kids were still there.

If I hadn't gone, I wouldn't have been able to look in the mirror.

I had to go for those kids.'

[ Cheers and applause ] This is my ninth trip to Vietnam and my last.

It has to be.

The chicken with my blood type died.

[ Laughter ] [ Applause ] And I'll miss Saigon.

[ Aircraft flying overhead ] It's such a friendly city.

I'll never forget the time a total stranger walked up to me and handed me a grenade.

Are those ours? [ Laughter ] -I think the great lesson that came out of Vietnam is we must never blame our troops for a mission that is unpopular.

That has lasted. And I hope it stays.

For us, in the Vietnam era, it wasn't so much fun.

But Bob Hope was just steadfast in his support of troops.

That meant so much to us, in that time, when we weren't accepted, when traveling in your uniform meant a certain amount of abuse, a certain amount of negative reaction.

Bob Hope was like a beacon for us.

It -- It just meant so much, meant so much to me, anybody I know who served.

Um, but that was him.

I mean, he was there... all the time.

♪♪ -And if they don't stop this meat inflation soon, a cow is gonna be worth as much as college basketball player.

That's a hell of a funny nothing, isn't it?

'Oh, it's gonna be worth as much as much as a college basketball player!'


The last thing they agreed on was Mamie Van Doren.

[ Light laughter ] Do you remember Mamie Van Doren?

Huh? Anybody?

-People often said that Dad stayed around too long, that maybe he outlived his -- his time.

And I have to say, as somebody that worked with him up till the very end, I -- I -- I knew that it was time for him to go.

-The Bob Hope that I was introduced to was the Bob Hope on television specials in, I'd say, the mid-'70s, so I got to know him at exactly the wrong time.

'Saturday Night Live' comes on in 1975.

And it's this revolution, and, uh, comedy is suddenly dangerous and it's filled with these young, you know, bad boys, and it's -- the whole attitude about comedy has changed.

The whole culture has changed.

And Bob Hope is doing sketches you probably could've done 30 years earlier.

People of my generation weren't that interested.

-You don't know how lovable I am.

When I walk down the street, dogs follow me and kiss my hands.

-Well, you should try eating with a knife and fork.

-Toward the end of Bob's television career, it was very difficult to write the shows.

We would write the material and submit it like we always did, but I -- I got the feeling often that I was like a cornerman for a heavyweight champion who had been at the top, but now he'd taken maybe a fight or two too many.

-Being part of 'Bob Hope's Young Comedians Special' was a very big deal, and Bob was so old by the time we were doing the show, he couldn't hear very well, he couldn't see very well.

The fact that he was just there was amazing.

-I can't say that there was a time he should have or shouldn't have.

I mean, he was gonna go kicking and screaming.

And why the hell not?

You're Bob Hope.

[ Chuckling ] Do what you want.

-In the show in which I got Bob Hope to talk like a person, and not a comedian, I said, 'Can you think of anything you've missed in life?'

He said, 'You know, Dick, I don't know how my life could've gone any better.'

How many of us can say that with conviction?

-It's quite possible that no one in history has gotten more laughs than Bob Hope.

[ Applause ] -I think Dad would love to be remembered as someone who made people laugh, particularly as somebody who embraced a country that was not the country of his birth and who loved it enormously and wanted to give back to those people that were willing to put their lives on the line for their country.

-Sergeant John J. Hoolihan, United States Marine Corps, Guadalcanal, 1944.

Bob, I remember you asking the officers to move out of the first few rows so us fellows in wheelchair and on crutches could see your great show.

Bob, thanks for the memory.

[ Applause ] -Judy Holman, American Red Cross, Cu Chi, South Vietnam, Christmas, 1967.

When you came onstage, Bob, you made us feel safe.

Thanks for the memory.

-Bob, I was just out of high school.

But you gave this 18-year-old a Christmas Eve on Freedom Hill I'll never forget.

Thanks for the memory.

-You dropped out of the sky near Eniwetok, Bob, and landed on our carrier.

You brought many memories and laughs from back home for us.

You also managed to stop the war -- at least, for a few minutes.

Thanks for the memories, Bob.

[ Applause ] -♪ So thank you ♪ We thank you so much [ Orchestra plays finale ] [ Cheers and applause ] [ 'Thanks for the Memory' plays ] [ Applause ] ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ -'This is Bob Hope' is available on DVD.

To order, visit or call 1-800-PLAY-PBS.

♪♪ ♪♪ [ Dramatic music plays ] -Go on home. You've seen it all.

[ Music swells ]