Bob Hope's Wartime Correspondence with the G.I.s of World War II
An extraordinary collection of posts to and from the “G. I.s’ best friend” and incomparable entertainer
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.
"Dear Bob . . . gets you in your gut, your heart, your soul. Timing is everything, as Bob Hope would attest. ‘Timely’ is this important, deeply moving publication. Martha and Linda hit it! This should be required reading in our schools. It’s a labor of love—a treasured memorial to a true American and human being!"- Judith B. Feldman, former personal assistant/secretary to Bob Hope
"Showing up for our troops was very important to both Bob and Bing. During the war both men devoted their weekends to performing shows at military bases and hospitals, and they created competitive golf tournaments to raise money for what eventually became the USO. Bob was so beloved that he was made an honorary G. I."- Kathryn Crosby
"Martha Bolton has given America a precious treasure. These letters reveal the love and respect Bob Hope had for our country’s military men and women—a mutual feeling evident on these pages. You realize the true capacity of hope when you read about the impact Mr. Hope had on those facing war. These letters, written from the front lines, battleships, chow halls, and hospital wards, are a testimony to the power of selfless service—both of the military and Mr. Hope. "- Randy Curry, Chaplain (Lieutenant Colonel), US Army
"What a story. Bob Hope was a master of timing and so funny that it was easy to overlook his compassionate heart. On these junkets he understood that many of the boys in his audience would be laughing for the last time in their lives. It was almost a codependent relationship. They both knew what was going on. They were looking into the face of death, and they were laughing. Martha Bolton has captured a great story. "- Doug Wead, New York Times bestselling author and advisor to two presidents
"As a military officer and war veteran, I have witnessed firsthand the effect Bob Hope’s commitment to our troops had on wartime morale. Bob’s bond with the American soldier was undeniable, and his bond with the soldiers of World War II, in particular, was exceptionally strong and poignant. In writing Dear Bob . . . Martha Bolton has captured the essence of this bond and, more importantly, preserved it for future generations. It is clearly a work of historical significance. "- John Harbor, Lieutenant Colonel, US Army Retired
"Bob Hope was renowned for bringing laughter and a touch of home to the servicemen and women serving in battle-torn, remote, almost unpronounceable parts of the world. Martha Bolton’s emotion-packed Dear Bob . . . shows how much the troops enjoyed these visits. It also points out how much Mr. Hope appreciated the men and women who sacrificed so much to defend their country. His devotion to them extended far beyond his performances. "- Gene Perret, four-time Emmy-winning writer for The Carol Burnett Show and head writer for Bob Hope
"These heartfelt, funny, and inspiring letters are a wonderful tribute to the uniquely close relationship that Bob Hope had with all of his fans—especially those who found him a welcome reminder of home on the faraway battlefields of World War II. "- Richard Zoglin, contributing editor, Time magazine, and author of Hope: Entertainer of the Century
"Bob Hope, the legendary Hollywood entertainer began doing USO shows in 1941 and continued supporting and encouraging troops for the next fifty years. He became the figurehead of tribute from an entire grateful nation, setting the bar very high in his fifty years of entertaining and supporting our troops. The correspondence in Dear Bob . . . is further proof of his absolute and unwavering commitment to the American G. I."- Gary Sinise, actor, veterans' advocate, and author of Grateful American: A Journey from Self to Service
"During World War II, Bob Hope saw firsthand the efforts of the American Red Cross to support military service members. He worked alongside us to build morale and raise the spirit of those who served, and he witnessed how we connected military members with their loved ones back home through emergency messages. He saw our Red Cross volunteers hand out comfort kits and care to the wounded in hospitals. It was through Bob Hope’s compassion, commitment, and voice that the American Red Cross was able to make an even greater impact helping US service members during WWII. "- Gail J. McGovern, president and chief executive officer of the American Red Cross
"Hope set a precedent for all entertainers who followed in his path. Aside from Hope’s impact as a performer, the true testament to Hope’s influence can be seen in the number of actors, comedians, musicians, and athletes today who eagerly volunteer to join a USO show or tour. When these celebrities sacrifice their time to travel to places such as Iraq, Afghanistan, or South Korea and meet one-on-one with our nation’s military, they are joining the ranks of countless others who saw the selflessness and impact of Hope and his career that was almost entirely dedicated to those who serve. Bob Hope’s name has become synonymous with the USO, and there can be no greater honor. He displayed our organization’s most closely held values and was committed to the USO’s mission of connecting troops to home, bringing a moment of joy during challenging times and always going where our service members go. "- Jack Dyer (J. D.) Crouch II, president and CEO of the United Service Organizations