This week Time Life is releasing a collection of DVD’s from one of the most iconic and beloved figures of our time. From making Americans laugh to taking care of our soldiers funny bones abroad, everyone now has a chance to remember why the song Thanks for the Memories rings true by the man who made it popular, Mr. Bob Hope.
Leslie Townes “Bob” Hope was a combination of talent as a comedian, actor, singer, and dancer just to name a few. In the 80 years that America embraced him, Hope made seventy films and many with co-star Bing Crosby. That was only part of what made this man an icon. Born in England, the Hope family came to Cleveland, Ohio where his career began in the 1920s.
Soon after he took on a radio career until he finally made it to films by 1934. Television wasn’t far away when in 1950 he could be seen on television and in 1954 hosted his own television specials. Let’s not forget that he also hosted the Academy Awards more times than any other host — 19 times!
There are six DVDs in the “Thanks for the Memories: The Bob Hope Specials” that contain 13 Comedy-Variety specials from five different decades. Guests that included Jack Benny, Bing Crosby, Desi Arnaz, Lucille Ball, James Cagney, a very young Tony Bennett, and equally young Barbara Streisand, Dean Martin, George Burns, Sammy Davis, Jr., Don Rickles, John Wayne, Johnny Carson and one of my very favorites Mr. Groucho Marx. If that isn’t impressive enough, Bob Hope also had U.S. Presidents on his show including Truman, Kennedy and Clinton.
“Thanks for the Memories: The Bob Hope Specials” include 13 digitally restored and unedited specials including: The Bob Hope Chevy Show (1956), A Bob Hope Comedy Special (1963), A Bob Hope Comedy Special (1965), Chrysler Presents A Bob Hope Comedy Special (1966), Chrysler Presents A Bob Hope Comedy Special (1967), The Bob Hope Christmas Special (1968), Highlights of a Quarter Century of Bob Hope on Television (1975), Joys – A Comedy Whodunit (1976), Bob Hope’s World of Comedy (1976), Texaco Present The Bob Hope All-Star Christmas Comedy Special (1977), The Hilarious Unrehearsed Antics of the Stars (1984), Bob Hope: The First 90 Years (1993) and Bob Hope…Laughing with the Presidents (1996).
That is a world of laughter but the best part is that it includes Bob’s first studio comedy special ‘in living color” with Jack Benny, Bing Crosby and Janet Leigh. Even Lucille Ball got in on the fun when the I Love Lucy cast with Desi Arnaz, Vivian Vance and William Frawley paid Hope a visit. That same hour includes James Cagney and Diana Dors. Hope also extended his humor to films when he spoofed STAR WARS, and who doesn’t love a good spoof about the galaxy far, far away!
In the Joys (A Comedy Whodunit), Hope enlisted over fifty stars to pull that one off including Charo, Milton Berle, Dean Martin, Don Rickles, George Gobel, Alan King, Don Knotts, Freddie Prinze and another icon in the horror genre Mr. Vincent Price. My favorites are always the bloopers and Bob Hope had some of the very best with George Burns, Sammy Davis, Jr., Phyllis Diller, Elizabeth Taylor, John Wayne and the uber-hot-for-hit-time Burt Reynolds.
Hope would also become beloved by the U.S. military for his constant and continual support for the USO entertaining troops with over 57 tours covering the years 1941 to 1991. The DVD’s include Hope’s 1967 USO tour to 22 bases around Vietnam, Thailand and the South Pacific all done in fifteen days. It doesn’t hurt to have the stunning Raquel Welch joining the group either.
Finally, there is a Bonus Feature that is a salute to golf with Shanks for the Memory. This includes clips of Bob Hope playing golf with Bing Cosby, President Gerald Ford and pro golfers on courses all around the world including Arnold Palmer, Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus.
Time Life has brought this never before released anywhere classic collection of the series to fans. For more of what Time Life has to offer fans of classic television visit www.timelife.com.
TUBS OF POPCORN: I give “Thanks for the Memories: The Bob Hope Specials” five tubs of popcorn out of five. These six DVDs are non-stop laughter and I enjoyed every side splitting moment. Once again seeing the ‘greats’ of politics, film and television truly did bring a smile to my face.
I grew up watching television specials and trust me when I say the word ‘specials’ is spot on perfect. That’s what Bob Hope brought to families, something brilliant, amazing and very special. It was a time for families to come together and forget any problems that may be going on for an hour of silliness and laughter.
Time Life brings back not only the best of Bob Hope for everyone who remembers the zaniness of this beloved icon but memories of our own. Hope was nice enough to invite a few friends to join in the fun as well. It is a chance to once again be part of the best specials to ever happen to television.
Excelling at providing beautiful collections, Time Life not only honors Bob Hope and the shining era of television but comedy everyone can enjoy!