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Dear Bob - Bob Hope's Wartime Correspondence with the G.I.s of World War II

Dear Bob

Bob Hope's Wartime Correspondence with the G.I.s of World War II

By Martha Bolton & Linda Hope
Hardcover : 9781496832658, 328 pages, 278 b&w illustrations, March 2021

An extraordinary collection of posts to and from the “G. I.s’ best friend” and incomparable entertainer

Description

Winner of the 2021 Golden Scroll Awards for Memoir of the Year and Christian Market Book of the Year awarded by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association

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.

Reviews

"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

"Martha Bolton and Linda Hope remind us why people across the globe loved Bob Hope. He loved freedom and the men and women in uniform who worked to preserve and expand it. What a delightful and uplifting read!"

- Marsha Blackburn, US Senator

"Martha Bolton and I have been good friends for about twenty years. I have read many of her books and from personal experience find her to be one of the greatest writers alive. I also must say as a comedy writer, she is the funniest lady on the planet!"

- Darrell Bledsoe, recording producer/music arranger/songwriter/author/publisher, former head of the Commercial Music Industry program, West Texas A & M University

"I was honored and privileged to have known Mr. Hope and worked with him on some of his television specials for our military. He was also a guest on my TV series, Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters. He was so kind, and because of his enormous talent the world loved him!"

- Barbara Mandrell

"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

"During World War II, Bob Hope dedicated himself to live performances that brought his show to troops in the field where he saw the power of comedy lift the human spirit even in the most desperate of times. Hope’s unique and powerful connection with those serving our nation is beautifully illustrated in the words of those servicemen in letters to Hope. Likewise, his replies demonstrate the energy and care he gave to the US troops in World War II and the decades beyond. "

- Stephen Watson, president and CEO, World War II Museum

"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

"College history profs take notice—you don’t become ‘the entertainer of the century’ without depth of character and love for others. Dear Bob . . . will prove that and make history live for your students. Dear Bob . . . will move you between laughter and tears as you read letters sent by service members Bob entertained over five decades. When they heard him, they knew they could connect with him personally. Dear Bob . . . opens a window into their lives, our quiet national heroes, as they open their hearts to the man who had proven he cared about them. This glimpse into an unheralded facet of Bob Hope’s care for others completes the picture of an amazing man. "

- James R. Lytle, president, Clarks Summit University

"For a half century, Bob Hope entertained our men and women serving in uniform across the globe, bringing laughter, joy, and a bit of home to those standing the watch and safeguarding our American ideals. The Coast Guard is forever grateful for his service. "

- Admiral Karl Schultz, 26th Commandant of the US Coast Guard

"Of the twenty-seven Bob Hope shows in which I participated, the most heartwarming and powerful ones were those spent entertaining the men and women of our armed forces. We traveled all over the globe, and Bob never stopped entertaining. We were his sidekicks, performing spontaneous skits and singing songs whenever and wherever we were greeted by a group of servicemen and women. We would deplane the C-130 Fat Albert or land atop an aircraft carrier and begin cracking our rehearsed jokes, customizing them to the current location. Bob even risked sneaking out to the front lines alone, via a SEAL boat at the crack of dawn to visit and share a laugh with those who missed our shows. The love and appreciation Bob expressed energized our entourage and filled us with a beautiful sense of purpose. "

- Brooke Shields

"This story is not just about Hope but about all those individuals and groups he sought out and who relied on him to visit them. It is this sense of reciprocity that makes Dear Bob . . . a moving and essential volume. "

- Carl Rollyson, biographer

"It was said of Britain’s inspirational wartime prime minister, Winston Churchill, that he marshaled words and sent them into battle. Thanks to the painstaking research efforts of Bob Hope writer Martha Bolton, with assistance from his daughter and producer Linda Hope, we are now privy to the words of some who participated in battle. Bob Hope not only praised America’s military, he put his suitcase where his mouth was by traveling thousands of miles over the years to entertain troops in numerous theaters of war. We know about these classic and historic shows, but until this book we have not known, in their own words, about the bonds forged between this iconic entertainer and many of those who went in harm’s way in service to our country. How Hope not only eased their sacrifice with laughter but touched their hearts in enduring ways is beautifully presented in this treasure trove of history. "

- Doug Gamble, member of the Bob Hope writing team from 1983–93 and writer of humor for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush

"As a child of the 1950s and ’60s, I grew up being entertained by Bob Hope. I loved his TV specials and movies. I thought he was the funniest man alive. Hope’s USO Christmas shows were especially enjoyable. I went on to spend over twenty-two years on active duty in the US Army as a paratrooper and Green Beret. My service included multiple overseas and combat tours. Unfortunately, I never saw Hope in person. However, I was able to watch films of his shows and knew several fellow soldiers who Hope touched personally. Martha Bolton’s book is a long-overdue homage to the great service Hope provided to the troops. Even though this book concentrates on the G. I.s of WWII, it reflects the appreciation of the troops to whom he meant so much. Hope never forgot the G. I.s after WWII. He continued to visit troops in Korea and Vietnam, and during the Cold War and the First Gulf War. I heartily recommend this book. The letters truly reflect how multiple generations of G. I.s loved Bob Hope. "

- W. A. “Tony” Funderburg, Lt. Colonel, US Army (RET)

"Bob Hope lit up the stage as our Oscars host nineteen times. He is the gold standard! We remember him not only as one of the world’s greatest entertainers, but also among the most giving in our industry. "

- Dawn Hudson, CEO, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

"My dad, Jerry Colonna, was on a lot of these tours and was impressed with Bob’s interest in the personal lives of the servicemen he spoke to. Jerry said that years later a guy in civvies might come up and introduce himself, and Bob would say something like, ‘Okinawa! Hey, did that boy of yours make it into law school?’ One of a kind. "

- Robert Colonna

"Bob Hope was a consummate entertainer, an iconic personality, and a reassuring presence on television for decades, receiving an Emmy and a Television Academy Governors Award in the process. Most notably, Hope used his immense celebrity for good. His television specials connected military families with loved ones serving around the world. "

- Maury McIntyre, president and chief operating officer, the Television Academy