The Quick 10: Thanks for the Memories

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It was this day six years ago that the world lost one of its greatest entertainers "“ Bob Hope. He had a good run, though "“ he was 100 years old when he died. In his honor, here are a few interesting facts about Old Ski Nose.

youngbob1. His first job in show business was for a dancer in Fatty Arbuckle's vaudeville show in 1924. He did the vaudeville thing for quite some time and was on a double bill with Violet and Daisy Hilton, conjoined twins who were rather famous in 1926. He and his partner would dance with them, back to back, and then get to do their own act afterward. One biography suggests he was quite repulsed by them and would make crude jokes about their anatomy.
2. He once won a Charlie Chaplin lookalike contest. Kind of hard to imagine, but I bet once you put the clothes, the hat and the mustache on, anyone could look like Charlie Chaplin if they did the walk well enough.
3. Bob was married before Dolores. Groucho Marx's son, Arthur, wrote a biography of Hope alleging that he had married his vaudeville partner, Grace Louise Troxell, in 1933. Hope denied it for years, for when a marriage certificate eventually surfaced, he admitted that he applied for the marriage certificate but never married her. Marx even went to far as to say that Troxell's daughter received a monthly support check from Hope for years, suggesting, of course, that he had a child with her that he wanted to remain secret. True or not? It remains a mystery to this day, so your guess is as good as mine.

4. He was born Leslie Towne Hope. He suffered a lot of abuse for his name as a kid - roll call in school would go something like this: "Hope, Leslie?" which mean kids quickly shortened to "Hopeless." When he decided to become an entertainer he figured "Lester" would at least let people know that he was male.

5. Before he decided to be an entertainer, he considered being a professional boxer and briefly pursued the career. His friend had decided to box and adopted the name "Packy West" after the legendary boxer Packey McFarland. Having a bit of a competitive spirit, Hope decided to try his hand at boxing as well. When asked what his boxing name would be, he spit out, "Packy East."

6. Al Capone's guys once threatened Hope. During his earlier vaudeville days, he had a joke in his act that went something like,

"My brother really slapped a gangster once."
"Really?" his straightwoman would respond, "That's so brave! I'd like to shake his hand."
"Oh," Hope said, "We're not going to dig him up for that."

When he played the Chicago Palace, though, he switched the neutral "gangster" to "Al Capone" to get bigger laughs. After a couple of nights, he got a call from an anonymous man who said, "You the comedian doing the Al Capone joke? Do yourself a favor. Take the joke out of your act. We'll be around to show appreciation."

He dropped the joke.

bobhope7. When President Truman was re-elected in the tight race against Dewey in 1948, Hope sent him a telegram that simply said "Unpack." Truman loved it so much he kept it visible under the glass top of his desk in the Oval Office.
8. One of his old golfing buddies was Prescott Bush, George Bush's father and George W. Bush's grandfather. Others included Spiro Agnew, Bing Crosby and Gerald Ford. In keeping with his accident-prone persona, Ford was so bad that Hope said, "It's easy to spot Jerry Ford on the golf course. He has the only golf cart with a red cross on top."
9. He once dotted the "I" when the Ohio State University marching band did their legendary routine of spelling out "Ohio" in cursive on the football field. It's a huge honor and is rarely awarded to a non-band member.

10. He has more than 1500 awards to his name and is in the Guinness Book of World Records with the "Most Honored Entertainer" record. Some of those honors include the Congressional Gold Medal, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Hasty Pudding Man of the Year (the first one ever), the Silver Buffalo Award (the highest award the Boy Scouts of America can give to an adult), an Honorary Knight Commander of the British Empire, and he was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of St. Gregory the Great by Pope John Paul II in 1998. He also has a naval vessel and an Air Force plane named after him.

An extra bonus fact for you: Bob Hope is the only person in the history of The Tonight Show to have a standing invitation to pop on and say hello any time he wanted to. Conan O'Brien recently made the joke that he's going to have one of those open invitations as well "“ and Paris Hilton promptly came out and dropped a couple of jokes. I hope Conan was kidding. Anyway, here's one of those famous moments "“ Bob dropped in to surprise guest host Don Rickles. And it's not just Bob "“ Bing Crosby pops out as well, and finally, John Wayne emerges from behind the curtain. Don is clearly

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July 27, 2009 - 11:24am
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