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home : blogs_old : ability and accountability August 28, 2014

Ability and Accountability
By Richard Haddad, Prescott Valley, AZ
"[Children] don't remember what you try to teach them. They remember what you are."
"Please watch out for each other and love and forgive everybody. It's a good life, enjoy it."

-- Two of my favorite quotes by Jim Henson

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Bob Hope: a character, and a man of character

 By Richard Haddad

Top Photo: Bob Hope in the 1940 film, The Ghost Breakers.
Bottom Photo: Hope and Bing Crosby in Road to Bali.

I miss Bob Hope.

Millions of men in and out of uniform felt a connection to Bob Hope unlike that with any other performer of his time.

Actor/Director Carl Reiner described Hope as a charming coward -- a character he played on stage and in many of his films that I think personifies a lot of us men.

Truth be told, most men struggle with feelings of inadequacy and worry about living up to the expectations we place on ourselves, influenced by family, society, or Hollywood. We want to be brave and get the girl, but we don't always feel like we have what it takes to be a hero or a knight in shining armor. Hope's humble characters showed us that we could.

But as he entertained soldiers and movie-goers across the world, it wasn't just the characters he played that connected us to him, it also was his good character -- the integrity and respect he showed shined through that famous smile.

As a young father, I had taken my children to see an animated film featuring the voice of a popular comedian. Some time after the film was released I happened to see that same comedian on television performing his stage act. I was shocked to hear this man -- who my children considered a hero -- spewing out a continuous stream of sex jokes and filthy humor. I wondered why someone so talented would feel the need to drop so low for a laugh, especially when comedians like Bob Hope, Red Skeleton and Dick Van Dyke proved that true performers didn't need filth to entertain. I started using these comedians as a standard by which to measure true comedy, knowing that I could share any of their films with my children. Whether he was aboard a ship at sea with pirates, or atop a camel in the desert, I knew Bob Hope would be true to his good character.

After Bob Hope passed away on July 27, 2003, President Bush said, "The Nation lost a great citizen." But Hope showed us we could all be great citizens, and have fun doing it. For that, I will always be grateful.

There are a lot of good men out there who quietly strive to live their lives with integrity and humility. They may never stand on the grand stage of life, but their example and influence is needed more today than ever before.

Many of these men are from Bob Hope's generation - men who may now be reflecting on a long life of toil and wondering if they made a difference. Please don't make them wonder.

May we all set a good course and endure with dignity.

"I've always been in the right place and time. Of course, I steered myself there." - Bob Hope

Thanks for the memories.

A few of my other favorite Bob Hope Quotes:

You never get tired unless you stop and take time for it.

If you haven't any charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble.

When we recall the past, we usually find that it is the simplest things - not the great occasions - that in retrospect give off the greatest glow of happiness.

I have seen what a laugh can do. It can transform almost unbearable tears into something bearable, even hopeful.

People who throw kisses are hopelessly lazy.

Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Article comment by: Diane Catlin

Richie Haddad!! We missed you at the RMHS 30 year class reunion!! Everyone was wondering where you were and what you were up to so I started searching! Go on the RMHS Class of 1980 Facebook site. We'd love to hear from you!! diane

Posted: Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Article comment by: Parker Anderson

I wonder if Coyote Contraire is just trying to shock people by blasting the old entertainers of yore..... Myself, I never cared for Bob Hope, but he made millions of people happy and I cannot discount that. Richard's point is well taken, and I also think about Eddie Murphy, the beloved donkey of SHREK, and wonder about children later catching his films like RAW and BOOMERANG, both just a series of crude, vulgar, profanity-laden sexist remarks about women. What amazes me is that adults consider this to be entertainment.....why do so many adults think things are only funny if the air is turned blue with F-words and worse?

Posted: Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Article comment by: James Decker

What it really seems is that people who were my age, I'll be 20 next month, 30 or 40 years ago think that everything that was part of their culture when they were growing up was better than today's culture. Did everyone really think that things weren't going to change?

Posted: Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Article comment by: Jeff Demand

I had the pleasure of being a caddy for Bob Hope back in the mid 70's. He was a fun man to be with. I was what is called a "Cart Caddy", that means you run your butt off after the cart then when it stops you hand the player the correct club. Sounds kind of silly and Mr Hope thought so as well. He invited me to ride along with him and when he hit a shot into the center of a large fur tree, He went in after it. You could not see him at all and he shouted out from the tree "if I dont come out in the next few hours send in the red cross" He was a nice man, tipped me well, and was a good golfer as well. I miss him too!

Posted: Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Article comment by: Use To Do

Where is Bill Cosby in this discussion?
The man has been entertaining for over 40 years with outrageously funny, often insightful observations of the human condition. Only once, have I heard on a recorded routine, him utter what would be considered something off color. Perhaps in person this is not the case? But I've never heard that. He is an outspoken critic of ignorance and a champion of education. (Something Arizona really needs to pay attention to). I let my grade school aged daughter listen to the same routines that I listened to at her age and we both laugh together.

Posted: Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Article comment by: Coyote Contraire

As a little kid back in the 1950s I always shuddered at the sight or sound of Bob Hope. From then until now I have never seen any entertainer that was less clever, less funny, less pleasant even to look at. Talk about a pathetic "talent". Yeeecchh! Still gives me the willies. He was even worse than Desi & Lucy and Bing Crosby. These people actually made Jack Benny look good! So glad they're all gone now. ------ And Haddad remains a true Puritan -- the kind that says, "Now, I'm no prude, but..." and then goes on to prove he is.

Posted: Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Article comment by: Steven Ayres

What Andrew's pointing out, Richard, is that the Bob Hope you remember, like all the film and TV stars from 1930 into the '70s, was the product of institutionalized censorship as enforced by the Hays Office and later by Jack Valenti and his MPAA. You long for a world of controlled media, where people you didn't elect or even know the names of kept the icky words out of your ears, as well as most of the truth about what your government and your favorite corporations were doing. I'll pass, thanks.

Posted: Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Article comment by: cosmopolitan E

Bob Hope..and his house on the top of the hill in Rancho Mirage.
Time flies.Thirty years ago as young immigrant I have waited tables in a Palm Springs and Bob Hope was a nightmare for the waiters.
He never left a tip and most of s time there was a problem with his bill.
He expecteted that somebody at the table would pay for it. He was not a welcomed guest to any establishment.
Today is 2010 and I cannot wait to get out of Arizona and write my American experience.Frankly, I do not feel safe here.
America has become its own enemy.

Posted: Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Article comment by: Richard Haddad

Andrew, I have never seen any filthy humor come from Bob Hope. He did at times present gags aimed at more mature audiences, but never what you phrased as "very, very filthy comedy" -- especially when compared to today's comedians. An off-air blue routine containing double meaning gags is a far cry from graphically depicted sexual perversion and a steady stream of F words.

Posted: Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Article comment by: Andrew Johnson-Schmit

Actually, Bob Hope did some very, very filthy comedy in his time. He just was very, very careful about not letting any of it get on the air or into his films.
He was famous for doing a blue routine right up until airtime on his radio show and then switching to clean material to throw off his co-stars and give his sponsors fits.
I have a recording where the first line into the on-air clean section comes off with such a leer (even though the line is not overtly dirty) that the audience loses it for the first 10 minutes of the show as each new line ends up going through their minds, freshly attuned to double meaning, And Hope, slightly flustered, has a hard time choosing between the huge laughs he's getting and reigning the material in.
Just like the infamous final rehearsals (usually unrecorded but there are some recordings out there among collectors) for the radio version of "Gunsmoke" which ran very blue indeed, these performers made a very clear distinction between the show they provided the audience and their own sense of humor.
Its important to seperate the personality they were selling the public at large from the performer themselves.
And not to swallow the hagiography of "better, simpler times," no matter how comforting it can be.
Remember, there were plenty of critics back then who thought Hope's scattergun approach to comedy was a true sign of the decline of comedy post-Will Rodgers.
I would suggest both comedy and civilization survived that one too.

Posted: Monday, May 10, 2010
Article comment by: Richard Haddad

As an FYI to readers about Keith Schmidt's comment below mentioning "BIG K-MART" -- this is probably a reference to a commercial. In 1997 Bob Hope had a cameo role at the end of a K-Mart commercial, putting down a newspaper he had been reading to exclaim: "Big Kmart. Now that's big." It was a celebrity-filled commercial but not very effective. What makes the commercial noteworthy is that Hope was 95 years old when he appeared in the spot. Here's a youtube link to the 1997 commercial if you are interested:

Posted: Monday, May 10, 2010
Article comment by: Richard Haddad

Your point is well taken. I think your example of Robin Williams is a good one. He has a wide and varied audience of both young and old. The same could be said for other comedians who have also starred in children and family movies such as Eddie Murphy, Adam Sandler and Jim Carry. But I have a far higher respect for those comedians who don't lower themselves to what I consider cheap, easy-grab humor. Much of the raunchy comedy that comes out of these talented comedians seems beneath them. I never felt that way about Bob Hope and others from his generation. It almost feels like a shortcut, or imitation humor when someone resorts to filth to get a laugh. I also feel like these double-sided comedians miss an opportunity to set a higher example for our youth. It saddens me to think that a child who loved the Genie in Disney's Aladdin might inadvertently see a live show on cable TV wherein their movie hero is seen spewing out graphic sexual jokes about unnatural acts with animals or jokes that objectify women. But in fairness -- and to Robin William's credit -- is seems as he gets older he has been selecting movies that more often reflect higher values. I don't know if his live show has matured because I have not seen it for a number of years.

Posted: Saturday, May 08, 2010
Article comment by: Keith Schmidt

Bob Hope...."BIG K-MART"

Posted: Saturday, May 08, 2010
Article comment by: James Decker

Mr. Haddad, there are some people who just happen to appeal to various types of audiences. Just look at Robin Williams. He's done quite a few things that appeal to children or a family-oriented audience, but at the same time he does quite a few things intended for adult & mature audiences only. He's done children & family type films. However his stand-up specials on HBO are definitely for adults only. Although I will admit, if you ever watch his recent special "Weapons of Self-Destruction" he does make many valid points yet at the same time I just could not stop laughing. It's things like that as to why television & film ratings exist.

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