From the Archives: Bob Hope entertains the troops
Over a 50-year span, Bob Hope entertained American troops overseas. Many of his USO tours occurred over Christmas. Los Angeles Times photographers often covered his departures and arrivals.
In the above image, Hope was embarking on his 13th annual two-week Christmas tour of U.S. military bases.
In 2003, Times staff writer Al Martinez reported in Bob Hope's obituary:
...His face was known to millions of Americans spanning three generations, perhaps especially those who served in the military during World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars.
The comedian began entertaining servicemen and women at U.S. bases in 1941—starting at California's March Field near Riverside — and in 1948 began annual Christmas shows at American bases overseas.
Hope was never a member of the military. But on Oct. 29, 1997, when he was 94, he became the first American designated by Congress as an "honorary veteran of the United States Armed Forces." .…
His shows for the troops — with an entourage of other comics, singers, dancers and pretty girls — lasted for half a century, often not far from the fighting, earning Hope praise for his patriotic efforts and criticism for his hawkish stance during the Vietnam War.
He once said — either exaggerating for effect or on the level — that he had traveled almost 10 million air miles entertaining American service personnel around the world. He ended his regular Christmas shows in 1972 during the difficult days of the Vietnam War.
The hiatus lasted 11 years. In 1983, at 80, Hope once more hit the road, this time traveling to Lebanon, where a peacekeeping force of U.S. Marines and ships of the 6th Fleet had gathered to attempt, without success, to stem the internal bloodshed in Beirut.
The comedian entertained first aboard the naval ships off the coast and then, to everyone's surprise, went ashore to give the Marines his special brand of humor. He got out a scant 30 minutes before the compound at which he appeared was shelled.
"If this is peace," Hope told the cheering troops, "aren't you glad you're not in a war? I was told not to fraternize with the enemy, and I won't ... as soon as I figure out who it is."
In 1990, the octogenarian Hope was in the Middle East cheering troops in Operation Desert Shield and then Operation Desert Storm, the first U.S.-led campaigns against Saddam Hussein. ...
Martinez’s full article Bob Hope, the master of the one-liner, dies at 100 is online.
This photo gallery includes a couple of Associated Press photos of Bob Hope performances overseas.
This post was originally published on Dec. 23, 2011.