Although Bob Hope’s fans remember him as an entertainment legend, his most outstanding achievement had nothing to do with Hollywood.
During his 80-year career, Hope made it his goal to entertaining the troops at home and abroad. He would often perform for them on the front lines and send them personal, heartfelt letters to thank them for their service.
Recently, Martha Bolton, a family friend to the Hope family, and his daughter Linda Hope collaborated to write Dear Bob: Bob Hope’s Wartime Correspondence with the G.I.s of World War II. The letters give fans a look into the personal letters, postcards, packages sent back and forth between Hope and the troops.
“I found it very moving to re-read these letters again,” Linda Hope told Fox News. “… I was reminded of the scope of dad’s involvement with the men and women he entertained, here at home and abroad. It reinforced the reality of how those relationships really affected his entire life.”
Bob Hope Dedicated His Life To Corresponding With Troops
According to Bolton, she was inspired to turn the letters into a book when she realized it would give readers more insight into Hope’s life.
“I had come across the letters he received from G.I.’s over the years and I was just so overwhelmed by its historical significance. I thought they also gave a look inside his heart. And there was so much there. There were funny letters, but also moving letters. It spanned the whole human experience. And it really showed Bob’s relationship with the G.I.’s.”
Yet, as Bolton describes, once she and his daughter began reading the letters, they knew they were in for quite a project. “At the height of World War II, Bob was receiving 38,000 fan letters a week. So there was a mountain of material. And he kept them all in these banker boxes.”
Sadly, during the middle of the project in 2003, Bob Hope had passed away. However, the duo kept chugging along.
“We never gave up on the idea of working on this manuscript. We knew one day we would finish it… So we poured ourselves into this project and the process of selecting which letters to include in the book.”
Some might find it odd that Hope dedicated so much time to honoring American troops since he was born in England. Yet, he understood and wanted to honor their sacrifice.
“I think he saw the sacrifices that Americans – and allied forces – were making. He knew how much they were giving up,” Bolton says. “So he wanted to find a way to give back. Even if it was carving out time from his day to write these letters and make sure they were sent. But he felt that was so insignificant compared to what these men and women were giving up.”