I recently read Radio Romance by Garrison Keillor. In the book he puts a story about Bob Hope into the mouth of one of his characters. After telling a tale about Bob Hope’s gags bombing bombing after he had to follow a moving rendition of the death of Lincoln and the battle of Gettysburg by Uncle Albert(!), Keillor has his chacacter say:
‘[L]ike most of the disasters of the great, this one went unreported. The press is always afraid to stray too far from what the reader expects, so they wrote about the event that should have taken place – Ole Bob laying them out in the aisles, a few local performers also on the bill – but Ole Bob knew what had happened. Up until that night, he had been a Fabian Socialist and one of the Paramount Seven, the elite core of the Hollywood left wing, but Uncle Albert showed him the power of the flag and Ole Bob has been wearing it ever since. He became a Republican that very night, Tailgunner Bob, the fighting man’s favorite.’
Now, while taking this with the pinch of salt I think it deserves, I also recall a TV discussion of Hope aired just after he died, if I recall correctly. One of the panellists was Dick Cavett, and he told an eerily similar story about someone (might have been him, but I don’t think so) who used to ferry Hope to speak to big audiences at university stadia in the States. Cavett said that such gigs were a drug to Hope, because he’d got addicted to speaking to audiences of soldiers who’d laugh at every word he said.
So any truth in Keillor’s take on the politics of the man from Eltham?
I never heard of the “Paramount Seven”, and my searches have brought up zilch. Searching for “Bob Hope” and “Fabian” bring up either the singer or the composer. “Bob Hope” and “Fabian Society” brings up several versions of an “on this day…” notice in which Hope and the society have nothing to do with each other.
Lotsa sites talk about Hope’s conservativism, and one site complaining about media bias is annoyed at the way this was covered. But I can’t find anything on the 'net that even suggests that HJope was ever a liberal, let alone a flaming liberal.
My suspicion meter on the story is high, in any case. Such sudden, revelatory momenty conversions are rare – changes in one’s political outlook tend to be drawn-out processes.
Have no idea if that is true…I know two Bob Hope stories:
A woman at work was in Palm Springs at a Dennys with her family and her youngest son, about 5 years old at the time, was anything but shy. After eating his breakfast, he suddenly decided to break out in song and stood in the aisle and sang away. The woman was mortified but the patrons applauded. The boy decided to sing another and the mother said, “that’s enough now…” at which point a man sitting behind her said, “let him sing another. The kid’s good.”
That man was Bob Hope.
The other story is from a friend who was in the Vietnam War in the late 60’s, many of the guys stationed there were very much anti-war. Bob Hope was making his annual tour and most of the guys didn’t want to go to some gung ho war rally led by Bob Hope. The brass found out they were all going to skip the show and suddenly they were ordered to go and threatened with a court martial if they disobeyed the order. So next time you see footage from one of those Vietnam shows, look in the back rows for some sullen audience members. BTW, my friend said Bob did a good job and they didn’t have anything against him, but they simply didn’t want to be portrayed as happy little soldiers for the propaganda at home.