NEW ORLEANS (May 22, 2018) – The National WWII Museum today announced the opening of its newest special exhibit So Ready for Laughter: The Legacy of Bob Hope. Supported by the Bob & Dolores Hope Foundation and with special thanks to the World Golf Hall of Fame & Museum, So Ready for Laughter tells the story of the entertainer’s unique place in WWII history and beyond. Using multimedia elements and captivating storytelling—including artifacts, films, rare photographs and an interactive display—the exhibit highlights how Hope helped lift the human spirit during one of the darkest times in American history.
Bob Hope came to the United States as an immigrant with his family in the early 1920s, initially working as a newsboy, butcher’s assistant, shoe salesman and amateur boxer. Hope went on to eventually shape his art on the vaudeville stage, and by the start of World War II, he was just emerging as one of America’s most popular radio and film stars. When the nation went to war in 1941, Hollywood recognized the need for contributions and responded by entertaining troops, raising funds, and boosting morale. Hope’s work quickly took on new meaning when he took his wartime programs on the road to military camps and bases across the country, inspiring other entertainers to join him.
“We had no idea we were going to discover an audience so ready for laughter, it would make what we did for a living seem like stealing money,” Hope wrote in his 1990 book “Don't Shoot, It's Only Me,” describing a performance at March Field, California in May 1941.
Exploring Hope’s major tours and travels during World War II, the So Ready for Laughter exhibit features nearly 50 artifacts, which draw from the unique collections of the World Golf Hall of Fame & Museum and The National WWII Museum. Highlights include photographs of Hope taken by 8th and 9th Air Forces photographer Charles W. McCracken, which have not been previously published or displayed before this exhibit; wartime correspondence between Hope and servicemembers; WWII-era relics engraved to Hope; videos of his traveling, wartime troupe and Hollywood Victory Caravan programs and scrapbooks.
“I am so pleased that the public is getting a chance to understand the role my dad played in keeping up morale both overseas and here at home during those difficult times,” said Linda Hope, Bob’s daughter and Chair/CEO of the Bob & Dolores Hope Foundation.
The exhibit, which is on display in the Museum’s Joe W. and Dorothy D. Brown Foundation Special Exhibit Gallery from May 25, 2018 through Feb. 10, 2019, will also include an original 10-minute documentary produced by award-winning filmmaker John Scheinfeld. Fabricated as a mini-theater within the larger exhibit to screen the film, the documentary is inspired by the actual settings where Hope performed during the war, giving visitors the feel of being among the troops during one of Hope’s actual shows.
To commemorate the exhibit’s opening, the Museum will host a free reception and presentation on May 24 in the Louisiana Memorial Pavilion. Joined by Linda Hope, the Museum’s Assistant Director for Curatorial Services Kim Guise will explain the process of creating So Ready for Laughter.
Additionally, the Museum will host a series of public programming events throughout the exhibit’s run, including a free film series on select Monday evenings in BB’s Stage Door Canteen that will feature classic Bob Hope films from 1939 to 1955. For more information on the So Ready for Laughter: The Legacy of Bob Hope special exhibit, or to reserve your place at the exhibit opening reception, visit www.nationalww2museum.org.
What: So Ready for Laughter: The Legacy of Bob Hope Special Exhibit Opening Reception
When: Thursday, May 24, 2018; 5:00 p.m. Reception | 6:00 p.m. Presentation
Where: The National WWII Museum; Louisiana Memorial Pavilion, Andrew Higgins Drive between Camp and Magazine Streets
The National WWII Museum tells the story of the American experience in the war that changed the world—why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means today—so that future generations will know the price of freedom and be inspired by what they learn. Dedicated in 2000 as The National D-Day Museum and now designated by Congress as America’s National WWII Museum, it celebrates the American spirit, the teamwork, optimism, courage and sacrifices of the men and women who fought on the battlefront and served on the Home Front. The 2017 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards ranks the Museum No. 2 in the world and No. 2 in the nation. For more information, call 877-813-3329 or 504-528-1944 or visit nationalww2museum.org.
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