You’ve probably at least heard of Bob Hope. You may already be a fan of Bob Hope. But do you have any idea just how amazing that man was? In a career lasting almost eighty years, he performed on vaudeville and radio, acted in over seventy films/shorts, did fifty-seven USO tours (prompting Congress to deem him an honorary veteran in 1997), and still holds the record of hosting the Oscars the highest number of times (nineteen, more than double Billy Crystal’s number). He also somehow found time to write fourteen books, have a happy enough home life to be married for 69 years, and take such good care of his health that he lived to be 100. I mean, dang.
One of the things people know and love most about this incredible man is the part he played in their Christmas traditions with his annual holiday special. Now out from Time Life comes Bob Hope: Hope for the Holidays, a DVD compilation which includes his first holiday special (Dec. 24, 1950) along with material from Bob Hope’s Bag Full of Christmas Memories, a holiday retrospective filmed at his home with guest stars and his family in 1993. A fair amount of content is packed into this DVD, including humorous sketches (featuring Jack Benny, Bing Crosby, Red Skelton, Robert Cummings, Redd Fox, and others), a selection of Hope’s USO tour monologues, musical performances by Lily Pons and Naomi & Wynonna Judd, a Christmas message from Eleanor Roosevelt, holiday bloopers, and (my favorite) Bob and his wife Dolores singing his signature holiday song, “Silver Bells.”
At a run time of 110 minutes, this DVD obviously only covers a fraction of the great material from the holidays portion of Hope’s career, but it’s a good way to give those who love him (or would like to get to know his work) a taste of the television magic that he and his team created. (And at a current price of only $8.99 on Amazon, it’s a pretty good deal, too!)