FROM THE CHAIRMAN’S DESK: Remembering World War II – Final”Dear Bob Hope”

In the 2018 Winter edition of The National World War II Museum Newsletter, there was a spotlight story entitled “Dear Bob Hope” which told of one mother’s letter to Hope. It captured her son’s treasured moments of laughter not unusual with any of Hope’s United Services Organization (USO) tours during WW II. Hope was often recognized as the Home Front Ambassador to the troops fighting overseas during the War.
Leslie Townes Hope, later known as Bob Hope, was a British born American in 1903. He changed his name to Bob Hope when he began his show business career in the 1920s. His movie career blossomed in the 1930s headlined by his multiple “Road” comedy movies. His TV shows added to his notoriety and popularity. But he was probably most admired for his 57 USO tours between 1941 and 1991 entertaining the overseas troops. The Newsletter describes his performances as like letters from home “come to life.” Hope’s “connection to his fans did not end when he left the stage. Dear Bob Hope was the opening line of millions of letters sent to Hope by fans during his career. In 1944, he received an estimated 38,000 letters a week.” His fans felt “compelled to write Hope to thank him for being there, for recognizing them and for not forgetting them”.
One such letter was from Mrs. A. A. Stumpf, dated November 27, 1944. It began: “I know you get plenty of fan mail, but this may be a little different. In August, I received a letter from my son, a Marine, then at the little island of Pavuvu in the Russell Islands in the Solomons group. It said- This morning we saw Bob Hope. Jerry Collona, Frances Langford and Patty Thomas. They flew right over us in these little cub airplanes and landed. They really put on a show and I still can’t figure out why they would come to a weather beaten hole like this. We had a very crude stage and set on the ground. Frances sang a lot and the other girl danced. I was all eyes on her, as I have never seen anybody that stacked up asnice as she was; she was really beautiful. And between Hope and Collona , they were a scream, and how we enjoyed! Both the girls were beautiful, and you can imagine a bunch of guys that hadn’t seen a girl for a year or so. It was the most enjoyment we’ve had – in fact it was the only one. They are touring the south Pacific and they stopped in for about two hours. I wish they’d stayed all day, as you never got tired of listening to Hope and Collona, to say nothing of the girls”.
“Soon after this letter was written, this boy was killed in his first battle, at Peieliu. He was only nineteen, had never been away from home before and was lonely and homesick as most of the boys are, and I can never thank you enough for having brought him those two hours of fun”.
Artifacts from Hope’s work during World War II can be seen in the National WWII Museum located in New Orleans, Louisiana.