The Talented Bob Hope Part Four
With Dorothy Lamour in Road to Bali
Hope had a reputation as a womanizer and continued to see other women throughout his marriage. Zoglin wrote in “Hope: Entertainer of the Century” — “Bob Hope had affairs with chorus girls, beauty queens, singers and showbiz wannabes up into his 70s. He had a different girl on his arm every night. He was still having affairs into his 80s. …
As just one example among many, in 1949 while Hope was in Dallas on a publicity tour for his radio show, he met Barbara Payton, a contract player at Universal Studios, who at the time was on her own public relations jaunt. Shortly thereafter, Hope set up Payton in an apartment in Hollywood. The arrangement soured as Hope was not able to satisfy Payton’s definition of generosity and her need for attention. Hope paid her off to end the affair quietly. Payton later revealed the affair in an article printed in July 1956 in the tell-all magazine Confidential. “Hope was … at times a mean-spirited individual with the ability to respond with a ruthless vengeance when sufficiently provoked.” His advisors counseled him to avoid further publicity by ignoring the Confidential exposé. “Barbara’s … revelations caused a minor ripple … and then quickly sank without causing any appreciable damage to Bob Hope’s legendary career.”
According to Arthur Marx’s 1993 Hope biography, The Secret Life of Bob Hope, Hope’s subsequent long-term affair with actress Marilyn Maxwell was so open that the Hollywood community routinely referred to her as “Mrs. Bob Hope”.
From left to right: Spiro and Judy Agnew, Bob and Dolores Hope, Richard and Pat Nixon, Nancy and Ronald Reagan during a campaign stop for the Nixon-Agnew ticket in California, 1971
Hope, who suffered from vision problems for much of his adult life, served as an active honorary chairman on the board of Fight for Sight, a nonprofit organization in the United States which funds medical research in vision and ophthalmology. He hosted its Lights On telecast in 1960 and donated $100,000 to establish the Bob Hope Fight for Sight Fund. Hope recruited numerous top celebrities for the annual “Lights On” fundraiser. As an example, he hosted boxing champion Joe Frazier, actress Yvonne De Carlo, and singer-actor Sergio Franchi as headliners for the April 25, 1971, show at Philharmonic Hall in Milwaukee.
His later years
Bob Hope and his wife, Dolores Hope, on Capitol Hill as he receives an award in 1978
Hope continued an active entertainment career past his 75th birthday, concentrating on his television specials and USO tours.
Although he had given up starring in movies after Cancel My Reservation, he made several cameos in various films and co-starred with Don Ameche in the 1986 TV movie A Masterpiece of Murder. A television special created for his 80th birthday in 1983 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., featured President Ronald Reagan, actress Lucille Ball, comedian-actor-writer George Burns, and many others. In 1985, he was presented with the Life Achievement Award at the Kennedy Center Honors, and in 1998 he was appointed an honorary Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Queen Elizabeth II. Upon accepting the appointment, Hope quipped, “I’m speechless. 70 years of ad lib material and I’m speechless.”
At the age of 95, Hope made an appearance at the 50th anniversary of the Primetime Emmy Awards with Milton Berle and Sid Caesar. Two years later, he was present at the opening of the Bob Hope Gallery of American Entertainment at the Library of Congress. The Library of Congress has presented two major exhibitions about Hope’s life — “Hope for America: Performers, Politics and Pop Culture” and “Bob Hope and American Variety.”
Hope celebrated his 100th birthday on May 29, 2003. He is among a small group of notable centenarians in the field of entertainment. To mark this event, the intersection of Hollywood and Vine in Los Angeles was named “Bob Hope Square” and his centennial was declared “Bob Hope Day” in 35 states. Even at 100, Hope maintained his self-deprecating sense of humor, quipping, “I’m so old, they’ve canceled my blood type.” He converted to Roman Catholicism late in life.
Illness and death
At a USO show
In 1998, five years before his death, a prepared obituary written by the Associated Press inadvertently was released, resulting in Hope’s death being announced on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. However, Hope remained in relatively good health until late in his old age, though he became somewhat frail in his last few years. In June 2000, he spent nearly a week in a California hospital being treated for gastrointestinal bleeding. In August 2001, he spent close to two weeks in a hospital recovering from pneumonia.
Graves of Bob and Dolores Hope, on the grounds of the Mission San Fernando Rey de Espana
On the morning of July 27, 2003, two months after his 100th birthday, Hope died of pneumonia at his home in Toluca Lake, California. His grandson Zach Hope told TV interviewer Soledad O’Brien that, asked on his deathbed where he wanted to be buried, Hope told his wife, Dolores, “Surprise me.” He was interred in the Bob Hope Memorial Garden at San Fernando Mission Cemetery in Los Angeles, joined in 2011 by Dolores when she died—four months after her 102nd birthday. After his death, newspaper cartoonists worldwide paid tribute to his work for the USO, and some featured drawings of Bing Crosby, who had died in 1977, welcoming Hope to Heaven.
Hope’s Modernist 23,366-square-foot (2,171 m2) home, built to resemble a volcano, was designed in 1973 by John Lautner. It is located above Palm Springs, with panoramic views of the Coachella Valley and the San Jacinto Mountains. It was put on the market for the first time in February 2013 with an asking price of $50 million. Hope also owned a home which had been custom built for him in 1939 on an 87,000-square-foot (8,083 m2) lot in Toluca Lake. That house was put on the market in late 2012. His house at 2466 Southridge Drive in Palm Springs, CA, sold in November 2016 for $13 million to investor Ron Burkle, far below its 2013 asking price of $50 million.
Awards and honors
Nancy Reagan prepares to present Hope (age 94) with the Ronald Reagan Freedom Award, 1997
Hope was awarded more than 2,000 honors and awards, including 54 honorary university doctorates. In 1963, President John F. Kennedy awarded him the Congressional Gold Medal for service to his country. President Lyndon Johnson bestowed the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1969 for his service to the armed forces through the USO. In 1982, he received the S. Roger Horchow Award for Greatest Public Service by a Private Citizen, an honor given annually by Jefferson Awards. He was presented with the National Medal of Arts in 1995 and received the Ronald Reagan Freedom Award in 1997. On June 10, 1980, he became the 64th—and only civilian—recipient of the United States Air Force Order of the Sword which recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to the enlisted corps.
Several buildings and facilities were renamed for Hope, including the historic Fox Theater in downtown Stockton, CA, and the Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, CA. There is a Bob Hope Gallery at the Library of Congress. In memory of his mother, Avis Towns Hope, Bob and Dolores Hope gave the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC, a chapel called the Chapel of Our Lady of Hope. USNS Bob Hope (T-AKR-300) of the U.S. Military Sealift Command was named for the performer in 1997. It is one of very few U.S. naval ships that were named after living people. The Air Force named a C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft the Spirit of Bob Hope.
In 1978, Hope was invited to dot the “i” in the Ohio State University Marching Band’s “Script Ohio” formation, an honor only given to non-band members on 14 occasions from 1936 through 2016. He also sang a version of his classic song “Thanks for the Memory” after the final Cleveland Indians game in Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium on October 3, 1993.
In Hope’s hometown of Cleveland, the refurbished Lorain-Carnegie Bridge was renamed the Hope Memorial Bridge in 1983, though differing claims have been made as to whether the bridge honors Hope himself, his entire family, or his stonemason father who helped in the bridge’s construction. Also, East 14th Street near Playhouse Square in Cleveland’s theater district was renamed Memory Lane-Bob Hope Way in 2003 in honor of the entertainer’s 100th birthday.
In 1992, Hope was honored with the “Lombardi Award of Excellence” from the Vince Lombardi Cancer Foundation. The award was created to honor the football coach’s legacy, and is awarded annually to an individual who exemplifies his spirit. On May 28, 2003, President George W. Bush established the Bob Hope American Patriot Award.
Although he was never nominated for a competitive Oscar, Hope was given five honorary awards by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences:
* 13th Academy Awards (1940): Special Award in recognition of his unselfish services to the motion picture industry
* 17th Academy Awards (1944): Special Award for his many services to the Academy
* 25th Academy Awards (1952): Honorary Award for his contribution to the laughter of the world, his service to the motion picture industry, and his devotion to the American premise
* 32nd Academy Awards (1959): Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award
* 38th Academy Awards (1965): Honorary Award for unique and distinguished service to the industry and the Academy
“Thanks for the Memory” (A-side) (Bob Hope and Shirley Ross)
“Two Sleepy People” (B-side) (Bob Hope and Shirley Ross)
“(We’re Off on the) Road to Morocco” (Bing Crosby and Bob Hope)
“Blind Date” (Margaret Whiting and Bob Hope)