Prompted by patriotism, and perhaps vaudevillian wanderlust, Bob Hope kept touring for more than fifty years. Returning to his professional roots, he took his variety show on the road to entertain U.S. troops wherever those soldiers were stationed. Hope's variety shows for the troops included comedy monologs, specialty acts, celebrity appearances, dancers, singers, and skits. His mildly irreverent humor, teamed with his variety troupe's beautiful women, provided a welcome respite for the U.S. forces, a reminder, in Hope's words, "of what they were fighting for." The fast pace, broad diversity, and informality of the overseas shows, with acts ranging in tone from brash to sentimental, gave U.S. fighting forces a supportive reminder of home, an essence of American life and values.
World War II Radio Broadcast for Armed Forces During World War II
Bob Hope began most of his radio broadcasts with the words, "This is Bob [fill in name of remote location] Hope." Hope continued to entertain U.S. troops, wherever they were stationed, for fifty years. In 1997 Bob Hope was designated an honorary veteran for his humanitarian services to the United States Armed Forces by Congress. He is the only individual in history to have earned this honor.
Radio broadcast, 1943. Copyprint. Bob Hope Collection, Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division, Library of Congress (150)
NBC Bob Hope Pepsodent Show Sponsor Card Showing Remote Radio Broadcasts
Bob Hope's first radio show for the U.S. Armed Forces was broadcast from March Field in Riverside, California. During World War II Hope was sufficiently moved by the sacrifices the U.S. troops made on behalf of the U.S. public that he and his radio troupe traveled nearly every week to perform The Pepsodent Show at a military training site. Of the 144 episodes of the radio program aired during the war, only nine originated from NBC's studios.
Sponsor card for Bob Hope's Pepsodent Show, February-June 1942. NBC Collection, Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division, Library of Congress (152)
I Never Left Home
In 1944 Bob Hope wrote a book, I Never Left Home, about his work entertaining members of the armed forces during World War II. Over 1.5 million copies of the book were sold. It was adapted for radio for the Lux Radio Theater and recorded as an album for Capitol Records.
I Never Left Home, June 1944. 78-rpm record album. Bob Hope Collection, Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division, Library of Congress (153)
First Overseas Visit to the Troops
Nine months after the United States's entered World War II, Bob Hope made his first overseas trip to entertain members of the armed forces. His travel to Alaska, then a U.S. territory, required a special permit.
Application for Permit to Enter Alaska, 1942. Bob Hope Collection, Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division, Library of Congress (153A)
World War II Photo of Bob Hope and Company
In the summer of 1944 Bob Hope hopped from island to island in the South Pacific to entertain the troops. It was an emotional, as well as dangerous, journey for Hope and his colleagues. He logged over 30,000 miles and gave more than 150 performances. Accompanying Hope on the trip were guitarist Tony Romano, singer Frances Langford, dancer Patty Thomas, and gag-writer and Hope chum, Barney Dean.
Guitarist Tony Romano accompanies Frances Langford in an impromptu performance, 1944. Copyprint. Bob Hope Collection, Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division, Library of Congress (154a)
On the Road to Vietnam
This LP includes excerpts from Hope's monologs during his 1964 tour of Vietnam and Southeast Asia. The performers' royalties from the sales of the disk were dedicated to the United Service Organizations (U.S.O). The record received only limited distribution.
On the Road to Vietnam. Chicago: Cadet Records, 1965. Bob Hope Collection, Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division, Library of Congress (156)
Delivering "Home" for the Holidays
In December of 1948, Bob Hope and other performers traveled to Berlin, Germany, to entertain members of the armed forces participating in the Berlin Airlift. This was his first Christmas tour to entertain troops and the beginning of a Hope tradition that lasted until1990. Nine of Bob Hope's Christmas tours included Vietnam, from 1964 until 1972.
Carl Hubenthal. Merry Christmas to GI Joe. Oil painting, 1968. Courtesy of Bob Hope Archives (156b)
Bob Hope in Vietnam
The U.S.O. established a tradition of sending Bob Hope on tour to entertain members of the armed forces during the Christmas holiday season.
A Bob Hope U.S.O. show in Vietnam, 1968. Copyprint. Bob Hope Collection, Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division, Library of Congress (156a)
Bob Hope's Packing List, 1969
Bob Hope's life on the road continued well past the era of vaudeville. Throughout his professional life, his commitment to entertaining members of the armed forces and raising money for charitable organizations kept him traveling, bringing variety entertainment to millions. Hope traveled so frequently that a list of travel necessities was prepared for use by his staff.
Bob Hope's Packing List for a U.S.O. tour, 1969. Typed manuscript. Bob Hope Collection, Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division, Library of Congress (157)
"Around the World with the U.S.O."
The 1969 "Around the World with the U.S.O." tour was the most ambitious of Hope's career, with performances in Germany, Turkey, Thailand, Korea, and Vietnam. The first performance of the tour was for President Richard M. Nixon and guests at the White House.
Hope scrapbook from U.S.O. tour, 1969. Page 2 - Page 3 - Page 4. Bob Hope Collection, Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division, Library of Congress (158)
Bob Hope's Trademark Golf Club
Bob Hope never stopped being a vaudevillian. Throughout his 1969 U.S.O. tour he carried on stage a symbol of his life-long love for golf-a golf club-using it as a vaudeville song-and-dance man would use a cane. This is the wood used by Bob Hope on the 1969 World Tour.
Golf club that Bob Hope carried on stage during his 1969 U.S.O. tour. Courtesy of Bob Hope Archives (160)
Artillery Shell Mug
Throughout his career, Bob Hope has been methodical about keeping records, objects, and memorabilia that document his extensive career. Among the memorabilia in Hope's archive is this mug made from a shell casing, given to him during the 1969 U.S.O. tour. This item is one of thousands of such handmade gifts given to Bob Hope by his admirers.
Mug made from an artillery shell casing, 1969. Copper plate reads "Mr. BH Code 124 From #88 TFW Korat RTAFB December 1969." Courtesy Bob Hope Archives. (162)