Dear Bob…Bob Hope’s Wartime Correspondence with the G.I.s of World War II, Martha Bolton and Linda Hope. University Press of Mississippi. Hardcover ISBN: 9781496832658, 328 pages, 278 black and white illustrations, March 2021
Dear Bob…offers a collection of letters sent to Bob as well has many pictures. Hope saved the letters he received from servicemen and women and kept them in black and white speckled boxes with orange spines. Also included in these boxes were carbon copies of his responses to the letters. This book gives great insight into the caring person Bob Hope was. “Thanks for the Memory”….Carol
For five decades, comedian, actor, singer, dancer, and entertainer Bob Hope (1903–2003) traveled the world performing before American and Allied troops and putting on morale-boosting USO shows. Dear Bob . . . : Bob Hope’s Wartime Correspondence with the G.I.s of World War II tells the story of Hope’s remarkable service to the fighting men and women of World War II, collecting personal letters, postcards, packages, and more sent back and forth among Hope and the troops and their loved ones back home.
Soldiers, nurses, wives, and parents shared their innermost thoughts, swapped jokes, and commiserated with the “G.I.s’ best friend” about war, sacrifice, lonely days, and worrisome, silent nights. The Entertainer of the Century performed for millions of soldiers in person, in films, and over the radio. He visited them in the hospitals and became not just a pal but their link to home. This unforgettable collection of letters and images, many of which remained in Hope’s personal files throughout his life and now reside at the Library of Congress, capture a personal side of both writer and recipient in a very special and often-emotional way. This volume heralds the voices of those servicemen and women whom Hope entertained and who, it is clear, delighted and inspired him.
“Anywhere we went, whenever we landed … we would always do an impromptu show. We’d go into one of our little bits. Then we’d go to the next place. The troupe was constantly on, constantly entertaining-whether it was three people in the commissary, or the entire unit.” – Bob Hope
Humanity, caring, commitment, support of the troops-that was the mission of the Bob Hope shows. When the USO was founded in 1941 and Hope began performing, he provided a crucial link to home for military families. Communication wasn’t instantaneous like it is today. In the 1940s and 1950s, Hope often did his radio show from military bases overseas.
“The people back at home loved hearing something from a base from where one of their loved ones was stationed,” remarked Hope’s daughter Linda, adding, “Handwritten letters were cherished. Dad received an average of 38,000 letters a week. He would dictate responses to be typed and mailed off by his secretary. The letters were amazing,” Linda said. “They had to deal with a variety of topics-asking when they were going to be coming home, and could they visit with him on the set or meet Lana Turner or Rita Hayworth.”
Some letters were more serious. Families of GIs who died would send a letter to Hope writing that the last thing they heard from their loved one was they had seen the Hope show and what a fun time that was, how grateful they were he had given them that respite from the awful conditions.
“Dear Bob” provides an intimate perspective on the WWII years for Bob and the service men and women as they fought, were entertained and attempted to sustain themselves. “Dear Bob” is engaging-sometimes emotional, sometimes humorous, and always memorable.
About the Authors: Martha Bolton was the first woman staff writer for Bob Hope, helping to write his television shows, personal appearance, and military shows for approximately for fifteen years. She is an Emmy-nominated writer and author of eighty-eight books of humor and inspiration. She has received nominations for a Dove Award and WGA Award.
Linda Hope is the eldest daughter of Bob and Dolores Hope. She is the producer of the Emmy Award-winning TV special Bob Hope: The First 90 Years. She also wrote Bob Hope: My Life in Jokes, a collection of jokes honoring her father’s one hundredth birthday. Linda produced his TV shows for over twenty years, ran Hope Enterprises, and has spent the last two decades perpetuating her father’s legacy.