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Hopelessly Nostalgic For A Bob Hope Who Didnt Exist
Was fondly remembered "funny man" and "family man" Bob Hope either one of those things? He never was very funny during my lifetime. Christopher Hitchens is one of very few media voices telling the unfunny truth about Bob Hope. Well, part of it. The other night on CNNs Larry King Live, Bill Maher alluded to the rest of the untold truth -- how Hope's media-manufactured legendary status as one of America's great family men covered up his legendary status as one of Hollywoods great dogs.

Heres a bit of Hitchens on Hope:

To be paralyzingly, painfully, hopelessly unfunny is not a particular defect or shortcoming in, say, a cable repair man or a Supreme Court justice or a Navy Seal. These jobs can be performed humorlessly with no loss of efficiency or impact. But to be paralyzingly, painfully, hopelessly unfunny is a serious drawback, even lapse, in a comedian. And the late Bob Hope devoted a fantastically successful and well-remunerated lifetime to showing that a truly unfunny man can make it as a comic. There is a laugh here, but it is on us.

Give a man a reputation as an early riser, said Mark Twain, and that man can thereafter sleep until noon. Quick, thenwhat is your favorite Bob Hope gag? It wouldn't take you long if I challenged you on Milton Berle, or Woody Allen, or John Cleese, or even (for the older customers) Lenny Bruce or Mort Sahl. By this time tomorrow, I bet you haven't come up with a real joke for which Hope could take credit.

Heres one of the rare mentions in print of Hopes infidelities:

"Though untrained in acting, Barbara Payton nabbed a starlets contract with Universal Studios in late 1948 and did a few bit parts, but the studio dropped her the following summer after word got around that she was having an affair with married man Bob Hope. She had met Hope in March 1949 at a hotel party in Houston, becoming something of a Hope groupie by following him around the country for several weeks as he made personal appearances. Upon their return to Hollywood, the actor allegedly set her up in a little love-nest on Cheremoya Avenue, for which he promptly purchased all the necessary furnishings, including, in the words of one tabloid, "...a king-size double bed that was the set for many rollicking good times." The couples sex fling, however, would last just six months ending abruptly when Payton began pressuring him for large amounts of money to help cover her living expenses. Hopes advisors reportedly paid her off with a handsome sum with the stipulation that she keep quiet and disappear."

Posted by aalkon at August 2, 2003 3:18 AM