May 25, 2018 – February 10, 2019
The Joe W. and Dorothy D. Brown Foundation Special Exhibit Gallery
American entertainer Bob Hope began his career as an immigrant who came to the United States with his family as a young boy. In the early 1920s, he worked as a newsboy, a butcher’s assistant, a shoe salesman, and an amateur boxer to scrape by. In the decades that followed, Hope shaped his art on the vaudeville stage, and by the start of World War II, he was just emerging as one of America’s most popular radio and film stars.
When America went to war in 1941, Hollywood recognized the need for contributions and responded by entertaining troops, raising funds, and boosting morale. Hope’s work quickly took on new meaning when he was asked to perform his show outside of the studio, in front of a military audience at March Field, California. That day, he discovered what would become his most cherished audience: the armed forces. Hope later flipped the format of the show entirely and took his wartime programs on the road to military camps and bases across the country, inspiring other entertainers to join him. During the war, only nine of Hope’s 144 broadcasts were recorded in the studio—the rest were performed in front of troops.
So Ready for Laughter: The Legacy of Bob Hope, the Museum’s newest special exhibit, tells the story of Hope’s unique place in the history of World War II and beyond, and the contributions he made that still reverberate more than 70 years later. Using multimedia elements and captivating storytelling—including artifacts, films, photographs, and interactive displays—the exhibit highlights how Hope helped lift the human spirit during one of the darkest times in American history.
Supported by the Bob & Dolores Hope Foundation. With special thanks to the World Golf Hall of Fame & Museum.