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In favor of changing names

From this vantage point, any and all efforts to rename public

facilities in Burbank after the late, great Bob Hope are a good idea.

Hope, who died July 27 at the age of 100, officially made his home

in Toluca Lake, but unofficially was Burbank’s favorite son. His ties

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to the local community were due partly to his long and productive

film career, much of it through studios based in Burbank, and partly

because of his decades-long relationship with NBC, where he got his

big break in radio and which aired all of his television specials

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over four decades.

But Hope’s ties to Burbank were stronger than simply those between

entertainer and audience. He is Burbank’s favorite son mostly because

he cared deeply about the people who live in Southern California,

contributing millions of dollars and thousands of volunteer hours to

charitable and service organizations and hospitals, especially

Providence St. Joseph Medical Center.

And, of course, his reputation as an entertainer, friend to U.S.

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troops stationed overseas, and confidant and friend to world leaders

is almost unprecedented.

Everyone knows about Hope’s 70-plus movies, hundreds of television

programs, and his Broadway and radio successes, but a list of his

achievements and honors is even more telling:

* 1959, Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, Academy of Motion

Picture Arts and Sciences.

* 1965, Screen Actors Guild: Life Achievement Award.

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* 1984, Emmy Governor’s Award.

* 1985, Kennedy Center Honors Lifetime Achievement Award.

* 1994, American Comedy Award for Lifetime Achievement.

* 1995, National Medal of Arts, presented by President Bill

Clinton.

* Four stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

* Has four adopted children: Linda, Anthony, Kelly, and Nora.

* Entertained the troops overseas in every war from World War II

to the Gulf War.

* In 1998, Queen Elizabeth conferred honorary knighthood upon him.

* Holds two entries in “The Guinness Book of World Records.” One

is for having the distinction of being the entertainer with “the

longest-running contract with a single network, spanning 61 years.”

The second is for being the “most honored entertainer,” with more

than 1,500 awards.

* Received 54 honorary degrees.

* Entertained U.S. troops starting May 6, 1941, and became the

first “honorary veteran” designated by Congress.

* Entertained 11 different presidents.

* Was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1990.

It’s quite a legacy to attach to a community, and Burbank was

Hope’s favorite. It’s only fitting that the proposals to rename

Burbank-Glendale-Airport “Bob Hope Airport,” and to designate the

Olive Avenue branch of the post office as the “Bob Hope Branch,”

become reality.

And it isn’t out of line to suggest a school and a few other

places in Burbank and its environs be named in honor of the

entertainer.

It’s the kind of recognition Hope himself probably would have

eschewed, but the kind his memory more than deserves.


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