DON'T SHOOT, IT'S ONLY ME: Bob Hope's Comedy History of the United States by Bob with Melville Shavelson Hope
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DON'T SHOOT, IT'S ONLY ME: Bob Hope's Comedy History of the United States

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Unless Bob Hope and the US are synonymous (a reasonable notion, perhaps), this is a comedy history not of the US but of Hope, his friends, and his travels--a long-overdue sequel to his I Never Left Home. Incredibly, Hope is now in his ninth indefatigable decade. Starting in 1923, his professional career is coeval with almost a third of the nation's story since its founding. More than half a century ago, the hot new vaudeville comic began broadcasting for Pepsodent--and the rest, as they say, is history. This chronicle of the years from Pearl Harbor through Vietnam, from Willie Howard to Tuesday Weld, Frances Langford to Brooke Shields, has been assembled with the aid of longtime amanuensis Shavelson, but the voice is clearly Hope's. It's history as a set-up for one-liners and jokes culled from a huge cache of personal appearance and radio scripts. (The text will be educational for readers who never heard of Brenda and Cobina or Jerry Colonna; quick bios are even provided for FDR, Churchill, Tail Gunner Joe, and others.) Soon the fabled roadshows for troops around the world took over Hope's life. The danger was surely there, but, as he reports, ""I was determined to be appreciated if it killed me."" For 44 years, from WW II Europe to the Persian Gulf in 1987, Hope and his gypsies provided their own kind of voice of America with topical gags and hokey zingers. It all began to sour, though, when GIs in Vietnam began booing the jokes. The text, after all, turns out to be a bit of history. A touch maudlin? Naturally. Darned hokey? Absolutely. But does it work? You bet. And it's all vintage Bob (I Was There) Hope for loyal fans.

Pub Date: May 17th, 1990
Publisher: Putnam