BOB HOPE: A Life in Comedy by William Robert Faith

BOB HOPE: A Life in Comedy

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By a longtime Hope PR man who was given access to the files: a massively detailed, highly unilluminating chronicle of the long Hope career. After a numbing, moment-by-moment reconstruction of a big London appearance in '70 (""Bob woke up, got out of his seat and went to the toilet""), Faith goes back to the beginning: English birth, Cleveland youth, vaudeville wanderings--with sometime support from girlfriend Louise and key advice from old-pro Bob O'Donnell in Fort Worth (""Slow down""). Then: an Orpheum Circuit contract, arrival at The Palace at last (somewhat disappointing), Broadway shows, radio (the only Sunday night comic doing monologues). And Hollywood--where ""easygoing"" Hope managed to make movies and create a new radio show simultaneously (the topical Pepsodent Show). Faith does mention one flaw: thoughtless behavior during Hope's ""first flush-of-success period."" (""Hope craved the material rewards of success to make up for all he didn't have as a child, for those years of struggle as a hoofer."") But mostly this is tribute pure and simple--through the wartime touring (""Beyond the laughs there was always the danger""), the move into independent film production and television, marriage and adopted children. (""Dolores and Mildred MacArthur helped the cook and two maids prepare dinner for 15. . . roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, five vegetables, two salads and the strawberry shortcake."") As for Hope's increasing involvement--both implicit and explicit--in politics, Faith tries, halfheartedly, for balance: Hope sometimes ""appears to have assumed the mantle of presidential apologist"" for Eisenhower; his usual unerring perception of public sentiment eventually failed him re Vietnam--so his ""efforts to lighten the grimness of the war"" went largely unappreciated. No surprises, a hint of philanderings, lots of trivia, a few amusing anecdotes, and documentation galore: an un-gushy but utterly bland rundown, only for insatiable fans.

Pub Date: May 25th, 1982
ISBN: 030681207X
Publisher: Putnam