Showing posts with label Bob Hope. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bob Hope. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Hope: Entertainer of the Century by Richard Zoglin

Hope: Entertainer of the Century
by Richard Zoglin
Simon & Schuster
Hardcover - ISBN: 9781439140277
576 pages
November 2014

Barnes and Noble
IndieBound (your independent bookstore)

"He was the most popular entertainer of the twentieth century; the only one who achieved success... in every major genre of mass entertainment in the modern era." - Richard Zoglin

Bob Hope's life was his work. If ever there was a man who was born to entertain it was him. The medium didn't matter. As long as there were funny jokes and an audience to laugh at them Bob Hope was happy.

"He transcended comedy; he was the nation's designated mood-lifter." - Richard Zoglin

Hope was born in England in 1903 but was considered an all-American entertainer. He went on to live for a century and much of his 100 years on earth was dedicated to his career. Hope started off in vaudeville at the time when that medium of entertainment was starting to die off. He had luck on his side and was successful in vaudeville even with the Depression rearing it's ugly head. Always being on the road and performing for live audiences gave him the early training for his long stretch of military tours later on. After vaudeville, Hope went on to Broadway, radio, movies and TV. He was a success in all three, especially TV. Nielsen ratings of his shows and specials broke records and his work hosting the Oscars set standards for future ceremonies. Hope was the father of stand-up comedy and the modern stand-up monologue.

"To survive the vaudeville grind you had to be resourceful, vigilant, watchful of money, always on the move. These were qualities Hope would never lose." - Richard Zoglin

During WWII, Bob Hope found his calling entertaining the troops. It became his mission to bring entertainment to American military troops around the world during times of war and peace. He worked tirelessly through WWII, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. That last war would prove to be the most damaging to his career. The patriotism of WWII that drove him was notably absent during the Vietnam War with a nation protesting our involvement. (Hat tip to the author for mentioning America's invasion of the Dominican Republic in 1965. Bob Hope and Tuesday Weld went to the DR to perform for the troops. It's a little known piece of American and Caribbean history. My mother and her family lived through it and I was glad to see it at least get a mention somewhere).

"... no one else pursued his public-service mission so tirelessly or made it such an integral part of his image." - Richard Zoglin

Author Richard Zoglin is a journalist who writes for Time Magazine. He approaches this book very much as a journalist would and covers Hope's career in a very unbiased way. We see the good, the bad and the ugly. Altogether we see a complete portrait of Bob Hope, flaws and all.

Hope's biggest downfall was his longevity. Zoglin writes "Hope needed to keep performing because he couldn't stop believing that the audience needed him." Even when Hope was very old and frail he still wanted to work. And even when he was younger and in better health, he would still find himself working more than he should.

Did you know Bob Hope was loyal to NBC for over 50 years? It was a relationship that benefited both parties, Hope gave NBC great ratings and NBC in turn gave him many spotlights over the years.

This book truly is about Bob Hope's career more so than it is about a life of an entertainer. That's because you really can't separate Hope's career from his life. The two are inextricably intertwined. However, this means Hope as a person wasn't all that interesting. He didn't have a rich inner life and he had only one hobby: golf.

Zoglin does discuss Hope's relationship with his wife Dolores Hope. As you may have read elsewhere, it's revealed in the book that he and Dolores may not have been legally wed. This is despite the fact that Dolores Hope was very Catholic. Zoglin also reveals Hope's first very secret marriage to entertainer Louise Troxel which ended in divorce. There is some information about Hope's string of infidelities and a particularly lurid scene you will not be able to unread. No matter how hard you try! However, I wouldn't categorize this book as salacious. Dolores Hope is portrayed as the stabilizing influence in her husband's life. She sought affection from him but he was very distant. She couldn't conceive so they adopted several children. The Hope family always lived in the shadow of Hope's immense fame something that was more of a curse than a blessing.

So many entertainers are foolish with money. It's almost a cliche. Hope didn't drink, do drugs or gamble. He was frugal to a point and sometimes that meant he short-changed his employees. But overall, he made good investments in real estate, business ventures and in his production company Hope Enterprises.

The book is sprinkled with Hope's one-liners and dialogue from his skits and movies. We learn a lot about his comedy techniques (including some fascinating details about pacing), his staff of writers and his partnerships. Hope and Bing Crosby had chemistry on screen but off screen they weren't friends. Hope got a lot of flack for depending on cue cards and for not writing jokes himself. He always seemed to play the same character on screen what Zoglin refers to as "the wise-cracking, girl-chasing, blustering coward." However, no one can say Bob Hope didn't entertain. That he didn't make people laugh. Because he did and for a very long time.

Hope: Entertainer of the Century by Richard Zoglin was a terrific read. It's a long one and there will be some trudging to do especially during the Vietnam War era which is covered extensively in the book. The 500+ pages are well-worth the effort. You'll learn a lot and will be glad you did.

And don't you think that cover is so striking? Bob Hope's profile and ski-slope nose was so iconic! I love this line from Bob Hope:

"It's not true my nose is the way it is as a result of having been broken in an accident. It came the way it is from the manufacturer."

Each chapter of the book represents a different phase of Bob Hope's life and career. The last one entitled "Legend" is particularly difficult to read because of Hope's decline. Grab a tissue because you'll get a good cry at the very end. Zoglin leaves you with a very touching account of Bob Hope entertaining troops during WWII. It's like a one-two punch that will leave you a bit emotional at the end.

Thank you so much to TCM and Simon & Schuster for sending me a galley of this book to read!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

New & Upcoming Classic Film Books (1)

 "I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book." - Groucho Marx

I've been on a reading frenzy lately and with so many good biographies and film books coming out I don't think I'll ever stop. It's so important for classic film enthusiasts to read and learn. It enriches the experience, develops the palate and informs the mind.

I've put together a list of new and upcoming classic film books. The publication dates range from September 2014 to March 2015 (specific on sale dates are subject to change). All title links lead you to the book's page on Goodreads. I've chosen a variety of books from big publishing houses to scholarly presses to small, indie and vanity publishers. This list contains biographies, reference guides, textbooks and more. Take a look through and maybe you'll find your next read.

edited by Randy Schmidt
Chicago Review Press
480 pages - September 2014

by Lesley L. Coffin
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers 
246 pages - September 2014 

by Gene D Phillips
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
204 pages - September 2014

John Wayne's Way: Life Lessons from the Duke
by Douglas Brode
Globe Pequot Press
128 pages - October 2014

A Companion to Fritz Lang
edited by Joseph McElhaney
500 pages - October 2014

Tinseltown: Murder, Morphine, and Madness at the Dawn of Hollywood
by William J. Mann
384 pages - October 2014

The 100 Greatest Silent Film Comedians
by James Roots
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
464 pages - October 2014

by Michael Slowick
Columbia University Press
400 pages - October 21st, 2014

by Peter Ackroyd
Nan A. Talese (Penguin Random House)
304 pages - On Sale October 28th, 2014

by John Kisch and Tony Nourmand
Reel Art Press
288 pages - On Sale October 30th, 2014

by William H. Mooney
Rutgers University Press
224 pages - On Sale November 3rd, 2014

by Marc Eliot
Dey Street Books
416 pages - On Sale November 4th, 2014

Hope: Entertainer of the Century
by Richard Zoglin
Simon and Schuster 
576 pages - On Sale November 4th, 2014

by Arthur Laurents
Applause Theatre & Cinema Books
192 pages - On Sale November 4th, 2014

by Ruth Barton
University Press of Kentucky
362 pages - On Sale November 5th, 2014

Early Poverty Row Studios
Images of America Series
by  E. J. Stephens and Marc Wanamaker
Arcadia Publishing
128 pages - On Sale November 10th, 2014

Anxiety Muted: American Film Music in a Suburban Age
by Stanley C. Pelkey and Anthony Bushard
Oxford University Press
320 pages - On Sale November 12th, 2014

 Grace: A Biography
by Thilo Wydra
Skyhorse Publishing
340 pages - On Sale November 18th, 2014

Saul Bass: Anatomy of Film Design
by Jan Christopher Horak
University of Kentuck Press
492 pages - On Sale November 18th, 2014 

edited by Anthony Slide
Columbia University Press
448 pages - On Sale November 25th, 2014

by Tim Snelson 
Rutgers University Press
224 pages - On Sale November 26th, 2014

Columbia Noir: A Complete Filmography, 1940-1962
by Gene Blottner
McFarland & Co
277 pages - On Sale November 30th, 2014

by James L Neibaur
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
228 pages - On Sale December 1st 2014

by Brent Phillips
University Press of Kentucky
368 pages - On Sale December 2nd, 2014

Cecil B. DeMille: The Art of the Hollywood Epic
by Cecilia DeMille Presley and Mark A. Vieira
Foreword by Brett Ratner
Introduction by Martin Scorsese
416 pages - On Sale December 9th, 2014

Color and Empathy: Essays on Two Aspects of Film
by Christine Brinckmann
Amsterdam University Press
282 pages - On Sale December 15th, 2014

edited by Tom Hertweck
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
250 pages - On Sale December 16th, 2014

by Lea Jacobs
University of California Press

280 page - On Sale December 19th, 2014

Buster Keaton's Crew: The Team Behind His Silent Films
by Lisle Foote
McFarland & Co 
300 pages - On Sale December 31st, 2014

The Five Sedgwicks: Pioneer Entertainers of Vaudeville, Film and Television
by Michael Zmuda
McFarland & Co 
277 pages - On Sale December 31st, 2014

by Kristen Hatch
Rutgers University Press
208 pages - On Sale January 2015

Dalton Trumbo: Blacklisted Hollywood Radical
by Larry Ceplair and Christopher Trumbo
University Press of Kentucky
640 pages - On Sale January 13th, 2015

 Art Direction and Production Design
edited by Lucy Fischer
Rutgers University Press
272 pages - On Sale January 19th, 2015

Cinema Civil Rights: Regulation, Repression and Race in the Classic Hollywood Era
by Ellen C. Scott
Rutgers University Press
288 pages - On Sale January 28th, 2015

A Filmgoer's Guid to In-Jokes, Obscure References and Sly Details
by Matthew Coniam
McFarland & Co
On Sale January 31st, 2015

by Michaelangelo Capua
McFarland & Co
On Sale January 31st, 2015

By Peggy Caravantes
Chicago Review Press 
208 pages (juvenile) - On Sale February 1st, 2015

Follies of God: Tennessee Williams and the Women of the Fog
by  James Grissom
Knopf (Penguin Random House)
416 pages - On Sale March 3rd, 2015

Hitchcock Lost and Found: The Forgotten Films 
by Alain Kerzoncuf and Charles Barr
University Press of Kentucky
248  pages - On Sale March 6th, 2015

by William Wellman Jr.
608 pages - On Sale March 10th, 2015

Lois Weber in Early Hollywood
by Shelley Stamp
University of California Press
401 pages - On Sale March 13th, 2015

Hitchcock a la Carte
by Jan Olsson
Duke University Press
288 pages - On Sale March 20th, 2015

Alfred Hitchcock: The Man Who Knew Too Much
by Michael Wood
New Harvest
144 pages - On Sale March 24th, 2015

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