Bob Hope’s Daughter Reflects On His World War II Letters

Linda Hope (Illustration by Randy Glass Studio)

Linda Hope is the eldest daughter of legendary comic Bob Hope. A producer and author, she labored together with her father for a few years and produced the Emmy Award–profitable 1993 TV particular Bob Hope: The First 90 Years. With co-author Martha Bolton she not too long ago printed Pricey Bob: Bob Hope’s Wartime Correspondence With the GIs of World Struggle II, which obtained the 2021 Golden Scroll Award for memoir of the yr from the Superior Writers and Audio system Affiliation. Navy Historical past interviewed Hope concerning the ebook and recollections of her father’s experiences entertaining troopers of the “Biggest Technology” throughout World Struggle II.

Why did you assemble your father’s wartime letters right into a ebook?

What motivated me was the seventy fifth anniversary of World Struggle II. Dad was very concerned within the fiftieth, and I believed this may be a great way to symbolize not solely him, but in addition the women and men he corresponded with over these years.

Have been there any notably poignant letters, from him or to him?

One of many issues that involves thoughts was once I went with him on the Queen Elizabeth 2 to have a good time the fiftieth anniversary. There have been these great older males (of their 70s and 80s) who would carry previous, considerably light pictures with Dad within the very far distance to share with him. That individuals would preserve these pictures for all these years simply to have him signal them if and when the chance arose—Dad and I had been simply so touched they saved them and regarded them amongst their treasures and keepsakes. It’s extra affirmation of the depth of his connection to the troops.

Do you recall any of your father’s letters dwelling?

In truth, no, as a result of I used to be a toddler. I used to be born in 1939. Clearly, I actually don’t keep in mind letters to mom or us from him. I don’t assume he had a lot time for letter writing, to not point out I’m certain he was conscious of the time it took to get a letter to get again to the States in these days. It was a good distance from right this moment’s virtually on the spot communication by way of pc.

Did he ever categorical why he traveled the world entertaining U.S. troops in wartime?

Not in as many phrases. He by no means made a press release to me or the household. Nonetheless, he would say in all types of small methods what it meant to see the fellows, to be there with them and to exit to them the place they had been serving. He felt like a bridge between the troopers and their households or family members at dwelling.

Bob Hope (proper) and his household apply their golf swing at dwelling in Toluca Lake, California circa 1945-6. His daughter Linda, age 17, stands within the middle. (Courtesy of the Bob Hope Legacy)

Your father was often called the “soldier’s greatest good friend.” Why was he capable of relate so properly to troopers and their households?

It was as a result of his materials was so geared to them individually, in small teams and particularly to their space. He had a way of who they had been and what they had been going by means of, and he was by nature a pleasant man. He went to the mess halls and locations the place the troops would congregate. He would work together with them and trade tales and discuss their households and associates. The actual fact he was prepared to take some very huge dangers to be with them, in typically distant locations, made them really feel as if individuals again dwelling had been remembering them and their sacrifices. He was crucial to them as a morale builder, in addition to a reminder of dwelling and what they had been combating for.

Did he have a favourite tour or vacation spot?

I don’t assume so. Every was particular in its personal manner.

Did he ever check his comedy materials on the household?

Truly, that was his type. He would run monologue materials by the household at dinner all through his profession. I’m certain he did the identical to some extent throughout these World Struggle II days, although as a result of he normal every monologue to include as a lot native coloration as doable, he wasn’t capable of run all the pieces by the household. As well as, keep in mind, the army didn’t all the time let him know the place he and his troop of entertainers could be going.

Did you accompany your father on USO excursions? What do you recall?

Not throughout World Struggle II. I used to be a bit younger then. My brother and I did journey with him to Alaska within the Fifties. That was our first tour. It was Christmas, and he was invited by then Secretary of the Air Power Stuart Symington to entertain troops stationed there. We had been thrilled, as a result of as Californians the considered a “White Christmas” was very thrilling.

Do you have got any private memorabilia from these excursions?

Not anymore. Most of what I collected regarding my father and his journeys was donated to the Bob Hope Archives and given to museums and libraries throughout the nation.

Which fellow entertainers did he most prefer to tour with?

Dad really liked all of the women and men prepared to provide of their time and expertise to assist him entertain the troops. I do know he had a very enjoyable time with Phyllis Diller, who made many journeys with him. And, in fact, throughout World Struggle II there have been Frances Langford, Jerry Colonna, Patty Thomas and Tony Romano, his one-man band. They had been those who went to all the recent spots on small planes, spending hours within the air. Bear in mind, it was 1942, and journey was not remotely like it’s right this moment, to not point out their lodging had been tents and swiftly put-together areas for them to loosen up. The ladies who entertained had a very troublesome time, because the army at the moment was not arrange in any respect for girls. 

Did you meet any of these entertainers? Did you acquire autographs?

Sure, I met most of them, and a number of them signed scripts for charity auctions.

How did your loved ones, notably your mother, really feel about him touring to battle zones?

Like several army spouse, she was very involved for his security, and since she was an excellent Catholic, she lit a number of candles and stated a number of prayers. Nonetheless, she realized and emphasised with all her kids that what Dad was doing was crucial, and that it was one thing he was uniquely gifted to do. My mom all the time informed us after we would complain about Dad’s absence that a minimum of I knew he could be coming dwelling within the subsequent few weeks, whereas so many different girls and boys had no thought when their fathers or brothers would return. 

Your father was born in England, and his father and different family members lived there in the course of the Blitz. Did he categorical fear about their security?

I don’t keep in mind. My dad and mom made a visit to the UK in 1939 to introduce mom to his household. He liked his U.Ok. family members and used to go to them typically and invited them to go to right here within the U.S. many occasions.

In 1997 Congress made your father an honorary veteran of all U.S. armed forces. How vital was that honor to him?

He used to say that to be included among the many women and men who gave a lot for the nation he liked was probably the most vital honors he ever obtained.

Did any relations serve in uniform?

Sure. Dad was certainly one of seven sons, and a few of his brothers served throughout World Struggle II, and his son Tony served within the Air Power, and his son Kelly served within the Navy.

Pricey Bob

Bob Hope’s Wartime Correspondence with the G.I.s of World Struggle II
by Martha Bolton & Linda Hope, College Press of Mississippi, 2021

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Did he ever categorical remorse at not having served in uniform himself?

Initially he did. He needed to enroll. However when he entertained the army for the primary time—at March Discipline, Calif., on Might 6, 1941—it was clear from the expertise how starved the army viewers was for leisure and what an distinctive viewers they had been. It was wonderful and thrilling for him. He was used to smaller studio audiences. Out of the blue, right here had been 1000’s of men, and as soon as he heard the roar of their laughter, he was hooked. He additionally realized he had been given a present, and he felt it was one thing he was meant to do. This was confirmed to him by President Franklin Roosevelt. 

Why is it vital to recollect your father’s wartime legacy right this moment?

Greater than ever the spirit of that era, aka the “Biggest Technology,” is one thing we want in our nation right this moment. The willingness to provide of ourselves for the nice of others sadly appears to have been misplaced. The generosity of spirit of these World Struggle II days is one thing that, if we might even get part of it again, would assist us by means of these troublesome and divisive occasions.

The influence my dad had on the households of the servicemen and servicewomen is in some methods much more important right this moment. It wouldn’t really be understood till years later when the youngsters, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren of the troopers proudly associated tales of their dad or mum or grandparent having met Dad. These moments grew to become a part of their very own household historical past. Folks have proven us framed letters from Dad and nonetheless have them on show of their houses.

One of many extra important legacies the households share even right this moment is about how Dad would relay messages to family members on returning to the States. Particularly at a time when listening to something from family members within the army was not solely uncommon, but in addition typically inconceivable, Dad would relay messages that grew to become often called “the day Bob Hope referred to as.”

Do you have got another recollections of your father you’d prefer to share with our readers?

I’d simply encourage them to learn the ebook, Pricey Bob, as a result of they may study concerning the spirit of the women and men who sacrificed, together with my Dad.


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