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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Bob Hope came into our lives and hearts

Bob Hope was a master of the one-liner, and in the process of making fun of himself and world conditions, he became America's most beloved comic.

Hope earned a fortune as an entertainer, author and real estate tycoon, and he gave much of it to charity. But for decades he also gave himself to making the world a better place, and for that he was showered with honors. There were special Oscars, special tributes, special roasts for the man who helped blunt the horror of combat for U.S. troops from World War II to the Gulf War.

After entertaining the troops, he would visit the field hospitals. This anonymous message was posted on the Internet yesterday:

"I saw men and women cry as they recalled visiting hospitals. Decades later, their experiences moved them beyond words. One woman told of crying and being pulled aside by Mr. Hope and told that she needed to be stronger because they weren't there to cry for these boys but to make them laugh. Boys without limbs or faces. Boys dying, but one of their last memories would be of pretty girls and laughing with Bob Hope."

His traditional Christmas tours began in 1948, when he went to Berlin to entertain GIs involved in the airlift. "It's as if every one of them was his kid brother," wife Dolores Hope had said.

Another posted Internet message yesterday said: "Members of his troupe talked about the missed Christmases, and how their families dealt with it. The looks on their faces, the tone of their voices; there was something special about this. They looked upon it as a mission, a mitzvah, a holy work. These were true believers, in the good that is America's troops and what they do, and in Bob Hope."

He did it for the gag, never using malice or unsavory language.

One gag centered on former President Nixon and the Watergate scandal: "I bumped into Gerald Ford the other day. I said, 'Pardon me.' He said, 'I don't do that anymore.' "

Hope performed in so many war zones that he had a standard joke when interrupted by gunfire: "I wonder which one of my pictures they saw?"

Bob Hope was a uniquely American institution. Five generations of Americans watched him on stage, in movies and on television. "Audiences are my best friends," he liked to say. "You never tire of talking with your best friends."

And we never tired of you, Bob. Thanks for the memories.