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(May 2003)

Thanks For The Memories
Bob HopeWe read in the newspapers that, at age 94, Irving Foy died in Albuquerque. We’re sure he was beloved by his family but why do we here at The Toast care? Because Irving was the last survivor of that famous vaudeville group; Eddie Foy and The Seven Little Foys. His family hoofed across the stage and crisscrossed the country from 1912 to 1928. Their story was retold in the 1955 film The Seven Little Foys, starring Bob Hope as Eddie Foy, Sr. This was one of Hope’s few serious movies. And Bob Hope is, without question, one of the premier – if not The most popular - entertainer of the 20th Century. Bob Hope is 100 years old this year.

His career conquered every medium possible: vaudeville, Broadway, radio, television and movies. What endears Bob Hope most to us here at CinemaToast is his unflagging support for American servicemen and women. Our leader, sitting over there in the corner sucking his thumb, is a veteran, and when we watch a Hope movie he stops drooling and perks right up.

For The Troops
Hope in VietnamBob Hope’s career as “American’s No.1 Soldier in Greasepaint” began in 1941 when he and a group of Hollywood performers went to March Field in California to do a radio show for the airmen stationed there. But that was just the start. Throughout the Second World War, all of Bob’s radio shows were performed at a military base or in a theatre of war- either in Europe; Ireland, England, Sicily and Africa- or in the South Pacific. After the war, in 1948, he started what became his annual Christmas show by going to Germany to entertain the troops involved in the Berlin Airlift.

After the Vietnam War, Hope called his 1972 trip his “last Christmas show”. But every Christmas thereafter, he did a show at a military base or veteran’s hospital. In 1983 and 1987 Bob entertained service folk in the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans and in the Persian Gulf. The man has endless energy and enthusiasm, and in 1990 he toured and entertained the troops in England, Russia and Germany, and at Christmastime he and his wife Dolores were in Saudi Arabia putting on a show for the men and women of “Desert Storm”. In 1997, by an act of Congress, Bob Hope, this London born comedian, was made an Honorary Veteran- the first person so honored in the history of the United States!

The Silver Screen
The Ghost BreakersBut what about his movies you say? After all this is a movie themed web site. Well, all we can say is that he made a passel of them, many of them classics. His first feature film was The Big Broadcast of 1938 where he sang what became his signature song “Thanks For the Memory”. In 1939 he was in The Cat and The Canary with the beautiful Paulette Goddard. Here we first saw his prototypical character- the wisecracking scaredy-cat with delightful topical references despite the historical setting of the film.

On The Road
In 1940 Bob Hope and Paulette Goddard reprised their roles from the previous year’s Cat and Canary. A favorite movie of ours, with a plot full of zombies, ghosts and all kinds of supernatural mayhem, and the fastest one-liners in the west; and also starring the great Richard Carlson – well, The Ghost Breakers is one entertaining movie. This same year, Bob teamed up with Bing Crosby and the sarong-clad Dorothy Lamour in The Road to Singapore. All in all, these three made five more immensely popular “Road” movies: The Road to Zanzibar (1941) included the very funny Una Merkel as Lamour’s scatterbrained friend, The Road to Morocco (1942), The Road to Utopia (1945), The Road to Rio (1947), The Road to Bali (1952), and in 1962 The Road to Hong Kong with a very catty Joan Collins.

Bob Hope’s last feature film, he played an ice crème vendor, was The Muppet Movie in 1979. Happy Birthday Bob, and thanks for the memories!

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