|About this Recording
BOB HOPE - Thanks for the Memories
Simply put, Bob Hope (1903–2003) was the most famous entertainer of the 20th century. That statement is no exaggeration because who was more well known, in every corner of the world, than Bob Hope? For most of his professional career, it seemed as if Hope was everywhere: on radio, television, in films, on records, and, of course, his multitude of personal appearances, both at home and with the troops abroad. It was his pervasiveness before the public that made Hope famous, notwithstanding his unique versatility and likeability. Yet as good as Bob Hope was, Jimmy Stewart was a better actor, Jack Benny was funnier, and his ol' pal Bing Crosby was a better singer (and golfer, for that matter). But what made Hope 'spring eternal' was the simple fact that he was the hardest working entertainer in show business, knew his audience, and above all, knew his craft. For over sixty years, he remained relevant; his jokes, popular culture references, and even the guest stars on his programs were always au courant.
Of the many roles that he played, the one of 'recording artist' was his least successful. Despite having a pleasant voice that came across well on a record, Hope never made it to the Hit Parade. Even his theme song, "Thanks for the Memory", wasn't a big seller. As a result, in putting together an album of 'Hope's Greatest Hits', one could not ignore his personal appearances, since that aspect of his career is what made him, more than anything else he did, a legend of American show business.
Hope didn't make his first commercial records until November 1938, when he recorded Thanks for the Memory for Decca with Shirley Ross, his co-star in his breakthrough appearance in The Big Broadcast of 1938. Hope and Ross reprise this song on the earliest track on this CD; a segment from a special 15-minute Paramount recording made for radio broadcast in conjunction with the release of the film. Hope also inserts obviously canned questions to a pre-recorded interview with W.C. Fields, another star from the film.
We've included one of the four duets he recorded for Decca with Shirley Ross: the Frank Loesser–Burton Lane song, The Lady's in Love with You, from the film Some Like it Hot. Another radio preview, this one for another Paramount film, The Road to Morocco, was recorded in 1942, featuring his longtime friend and comic foil, Bing Crosby. Crosby had cut a solo version of the song on a Decca record that year, but it couldn't compare with the rollicking duet version he made with Hope two years later (backed with Put it There Pal from Road to Utopia). It is on that record that the unique chemistry between Hope and Crosby was exhibited; the duo's ability to ad-lib, unfettered by the sterile recording studio atmosphere.
Of course, no Hope tribute would be complete without one of his monologues to U.S. servicemen. A Bob Hope monologue changed only in its content. Whether it came from 1940 or 1990, they had their own unique rhythm. With an ever-present golf club propped casually over his shoulder, Hope transitioned effortlessly from one joke to another, whether they bombed or left his audience helpless with laughter. Hope delivered his rapid-fire monologues like he was double-parked.
From an undated wartime broadcast at the Great Lakes Naval Training Station in Chicago, we hear Hope tailoring his jokes to the enthusiastic troops. On this track, one marvels at Hope's impeccable timing; he never steps on the audience's applause, proceeding to the next gag at just the right moment, like a seasoned surfer riding the waves (in interviews, Hope always said that timing was his greatest asset). Another segment is part of a broadcast to the U.S. Marines stationed at Camp Pendleton in California. Both recordings were issued as part of a 1946 Capitol 78 album, I Never Left Home.
Hope's commercial recording career was steadiest between 1946 and 1952, when he recorded for Capitol Records in Hollywood. The songwriting duo of Jay Livingston and Ray Evans was responsible for many of Hope's songs during this period; they had been hired to write for Hope's films, beginning with Monsieur Beaucaire in 1946 and also including favorites such as The Paleface, Son of Paleface, and Fancy Pants. In 1948, Hope recorded Livingston and Evans' Buttons and Bows, which won an Oscar that year for Best Song. It was Dinah Shore's version, however, that topped the charts, becoming one of the biggest hits of the year. Hope's recording was not as convincing as Shore's; he used an overly affected western accent that didn't come across well on record while Dinah, thanks to growing up in Winchester, Tennessee, had no trouble at all.
Possibly looking back to his success with Shirley Ross, Capitol paired Hope off with a variety of female singers, including label stalwarts Peggy Lee and Margaret Whiting, and screen stars Jane Russell, Betty Hutton, and Dorothy Lamour, the latter the sultry heroine of the 'Road' comedies. Lamour, featured with Hope on My Favorite Brunette, had been making records since the mid-'30s, on Brunswick with her bandleader/husband Herbie Kay, and then on Bluebird.
Lucky Us showed Livingston and Evans repeating the Thanks for the Memory formula of a musical conversation, this time between Hope and Capitol's popular songstress Margaret Whiting. We've also included a brief spoken introduction by Hope that disc jockeys could play on the air (Since the intro and the song were on opposite sides of a 78, radio stations had to have two copies in order to play them consecutively!).
Finally, we've included several tracks from the soundtrack to The Seven Little Foys (1955), in which Hope played vaudeville star Eddie Foy in a surprisingly good performance that departed from his usual wisecracking n'er-do-well. Nobody, was, of course, the signature song of the legendary Bert Williams, who first recorded it in 1906. It's a shame that Hope didn't do more serious acting. Performances such as this showed off his all-around talents as not just a reader of one-liners but a superb singer, dancer, and actor as well.
Television journalist Hugh Downs once said, 'Bob Hope cuts across every strata of America and reaches everyone with a TV set or a GI dog tag'. But comedian Steve Allen condensed Bob Hope's status even further: 'He is a social institution'.
Put It There Pal (Johnny Burke–Jimmy van Heusen)
Road to Morocco (Johnny Burke–Jimmy van Heusen)
The Big Broadcast of 1938: Radio Preview (Excerpts) introducing Thanks For The Memory (Leo Robin–Ralph Rainger)
The Lady's In Love With You (Frank Loesser–Burton Lane)
Bob Hope Broadcasts to the US Navy from Great Lakes Naval Training Station, Chicago Illinois
My Favorite Brunette (Jay Livingston–Ray Evans)
Sonny Boy (Al Jolson–Buddy DeSylva–Lew Brown–Ray Henderson)
Buttons and Bows (Jay Livingston–Ray Evans)
Bob Hope Broadcasts to the US Marine Corps from Camp Pendleton, California
Bob Hope introduces 'Lucky Us'
Lucky Us (Jay Livingston–Ray Evans)
Blind Date (Sid Robin)
Home Cookin' (Jay Livingston–Ray Evans)
Anchorage Monologue from Chesterfield program,Anchorage, Alaska
Wing Ding (Jay Livingston–Ray Evans)
Nobody (Bert Williams–Alex Rogers)
I'm Tired (William Jerome–Jean Schwartz)
Chinatown, My Chinatown (William Jerome–Jean Schwartz)
Road To Morocco: Radio Preview (Excerpts) introducing 'Road to Morocco' (Johnny Burke–Jimmy van Heusen)
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