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November 10, 2008

Linda Hope


JACK PETER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to a very, very special press conference as part of a very, very special day and a very extraordinary weekend. We are here today to unveil to the media and to the press center with us the opening of Bob Hope "Shanks for the Memory," a special exhibit that we have been working on for close to two years.
I have a few remarks I want to make, and before I get started, I want to acknowledge this wonderful lady on my right, Linda Hope, who is Bob Hope's daughter, and has been the creative director, the executive producer, the person who green-lights everything, has really worked hand in glove with us putting this exhibit together, and I want to thank you for being with us today.
I also want to acknowledge Kelly Hope, Bob's son, who is in the audience with us today. Thank you for being here.
As many of you know, we have, some years ago, we began a temporary featured member exhibit program where we chose to tell the history of the game through the members and through their lives and their stories. We have been recently acclaimed as highly praised storytellers, and we take that very seriously. We are very grateful for that recognition, and what we're unveiling today is really no different except it takes the whole storytelling notion to the next level.
I want to acknowledge the development team from the Hall of Fame side, and then I'm going to reacknowledge or acknowledge again, Team Hope, as we've gotten to affectionately know them as. Andy Hunold, Mary Altman, Tony Vizzi (phon.), Mark Hubbage (phon.), and really the entire operations team from the World Golf Hall of Fame. If you're here, make yourselves known to the media. You guys, I love you. This couldn't have happened without these guys and the hours of work that went into this. So thank you.
As I mentioned, it was almost two years in the making. We announced the project formally during the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic last January. There were several trips back and forth to Burbank. I think the team spent a total of a month in Burbank working with Team Hope, which I will acknowledge in a second.
You can't believe the stacks of the artifacts and the lists. When you talk about someone like Bob Hope who's life spanned 100 years, and I think he was active in it for 95 of those 100 or something like that (laughter), you know, days in the photo archives, days in the video archives, the staff here researched and read at least five or more books by, on or about Bob, and at the end of the day, all that work and research was boiled down into a 38-page script that really became the backbone of the entire exhibit that we are unveiling today.
I'd like to say what we do here is much like filmmaking. First we decide on the story lines, then we write the script, and then the artifact selection and memorabilia choices are made to support those story lines, so what you'll see in the exhibit is a real testament to that process.
Team Hope, I can't tell you how great it's been to get to know Team Hope. You know, it was truly a case of sort of one thing led to another, and before I knew it, Linda was in our office with some of her colleagues from New York and Los Angeles a long time ago talking to us about this notion of a special exhibit. Really from that meeting forward, we started discussions in earnest about how we could do this with a target date to unveil it this weekend.
First, the chief executive producer of this entire project is and always will be Dolores Hope, who wants to be here today.
She was very, very involved in the project. She looked at our story boards. She had input and certainly gave her opinion on our story lines and creative development, and the stories I got from the exhibit team that were out in Toluca Lake at the house was that while they're in the backyard goofing off, I think, I say that affectionately, word has it Dolores was there at the window, now, those are the people that are doing this, right? They seem okay out there.
So a special thanks to Dolores, and she certainly is a very, very special woman.
Linda Hope, I've already talked about the true creative director of this project and executive producer. We couldn't have done it without her. Kelly, we're glad you're here. Tony Montaldo is a colleague of the Hope family and a good friend and had some personal issues with the family. He was going to be here for all this, but I certainly want to recognize Tony and his work.
LINDA HOPE: And he's our chief financial officer so he okayed a lot of this.
JACK PETER: So he's a key guy.
Jan, I don't know where to start with Jan. She is the chief archivist up here in the front row and has worked with the Hope family for many, many years. You know, again, when you talk about the man Bob Hope and the mementos that he has collected over the years and amassed, if you will, it's cataloged, it's labeled, it's sorted, it's packed, it's in warehouses. We could not have done this without Jan. So from the bottom of my heart and our staff, thank you for the countless hours you have put into this.
There's two other folks that couldn't be with us tonight from Team Hope, the chief operating officer of the Hope legacy, Jack O'Neill, was really kind of the driver of the project behind the scenes as the COO of the Hope legacy. Great guy, very dynamic, couldn't be with us, but we want to give a special thank-you to Jack and acknowledge him.
And lastly, you know, the video guys who toil in the darkrooms and sort videos and the hours of footage, a gentleman by the name of Jim Hardy, who remained back in Burbank, was also instrumental in helping us. I'm not sure how many hours of video are in this exhibit, but there were exponentially more hours to choose from to boil it down to get into these story lines.
It's really been a total team effort, and again, I would just give a round of applause to everybody.
We also -- it's an interesting time, I think -- well, I know that we are all living in right now. I think that the love of the game that Bob Hope had, clearly the love of our country that Bob had, the laughter that he brought into our living rooms in good times and in bad, we can't think frankly of a better time in our lives to open this exhibit and talk about the legacy of Bob Hope.
I mean, this guy entertained over 10 million troops between World War II and the Vietnam War era. We need more Bob Hopes in the world today.
Now, we had two mandates from the chief executive creator and the executive producer. One, it had to be funny. If you're going to do this, it had to be funny. People had to start laughing.
And the second one was that we had to show Bob Hope so that the younger generations that come into this museum and come into the Hall of Fame who didn't grow up with him and don't have the same affinity that a lot of our fans have, could see him, could hear him, could learn about him so that we can carry on that legacy. So I think we achieved that between the opening video, the 12 monitors throughout the exhibit and the audio tour that we've created for this. We think we've really delivered.
There are some very funny lines in here. In fact, since we've opened this, I think we've been forced to change our marketing materials. You now have to allow probably six hours in this Hall of Fame where it used to be about 45 minutes you could get through here. It's really been a great addition to the entire program here.
Before I turn it over to Linda for her remarks, there's a couple people also in the room that I want to recognize. One is Carol Mann. Carol Mann is a Hall of Fame member.
Carol, thank you for being with us. Carol is a special member ambassador, has known the Hope family, knows Dolores, has been a big champion of the project and has helped us.
We also have a very, very special guest with us. This gentleman was a pilot for Bob in his first USO tour to Alaska, and he served as a consultant to Mr. Hope on his tours to Vietnam, and we're really, really pleased to have Colonel Bob Gates in the room. Thank you for being here.
Bob lives over in the Fort Walton area, and we are pleased to have you come down I-10 and make it all the way over here to Jacksonville. It's a pleasure to meet you, and someday we'll have to get your stories about Mr. Hope. I'm sure you have a few.
With that, I'd like to again publicly acknowledge Linda Hope and thank her and ask her to give some comments now on the exhibit and some of her feelings now that she's seen this.
LINDA HOPE: Thank you, Jack, and thank you all for being here today. I tell you, this is one exciting day for me, and it would not have been possible -- I'm not going to go ahead and mention everybody again, but I could certainly spend the afternoon thanking everybody. But I do have to take one second and say thank you to Jan for all she's done for us.
She's been there for us for many, many years and brought her sense of organization to a lot of disorganization and brought some sensibility to all the things that she's tackled. Not only was she doing this, but this was a challenge enough, and Andy and Mary that had been back and forth so many times to the house to go through all the material, and I'd go into the office and there would be one whole side of this huge office was all the World Golf Hall of Fame stuff, and then over on another thing was all the stuff that we had an auction about two, three weeks ago, and she was handling all of that.
I said, "Jan, how in the world can you do all of this?" So with Jan and with her great knowledge and expertise in computers, I think she was able to get through it. I just have to say thank you from the bottom of my heart and from the whole family for all you've done for us.
You know, thank you just especially to Mary and to Andy who are the ones that I dealt with mostly, and I know there were a lot of people here once they got the stuff here that put everything together and made it this special, special kind of day.
As my brother put it, it's such an experience. I mean, it's hard to find words for it because there you see things that -- wasn't that hanging in the office there, and that was over there? And to see how they all fit together and tell the story of certainly dad's life but also of ours, and it's given us the opportunity, Jack thank you so much, to relive and to remember so many moments that we have treasured, and somehow to say thanks for the memory is certainly capitalized on a well-worn phrase.
But it really is thank you so much to the World Golf Hall of Fame. Little did I think, or Tony Montaldo, when we had our initial meeting here, it seems like many years ago, we were all teenagers at that time (laughter), that it would end up being this phenomenal exhibit that it is.
You know, we have a lovely exhibit at the Library of Congress which highlights dad's gift to the library, which was all of his papers and his copyrightable materials.
You know, I just so wish that my mother could have been here because so much of her life is there with his. She would be so thrilled, not to mention how much she loves golf. I have to tell one quick story.
When she was, I think, about 87 or 88 years old, we were doing a television special, and my dad got a call that my mother had fallen at their home down in Palm Springs, and she had torn her rotator cuff. So it was kind of a painful recovery thing and therapy and all of that.
You know, she had me take her to a couple of specialists because she was unhappy with the result. I said, "Mother, at 87, what's your point here? You're back and you can use your arm and you can mix your salads and you can do all the things that you like to do." She said, "What are you talking about? I can only get my backswing back to here; this is no way for me to be able to play a round of golf." So that just gives you a little idea of how much this game meant to her and also to my dad.
It's something she would have enjoyed enormously, and believe me, she's going to have a lot of pictures to look through, and Jack has promised they would send us some supporting materials, so she will feel a little bit like she's been here. But she will miss seeing her friends from the Golf Hall of Fame. She and Carol had some great golfing adventures together, and mother really treasures those things.
I can't think of a nicer way to spend -- now, I'm parlaying it into a longer experience, but to spend a day here at this wonderful place, to see the beauty, all the green and all the lovely architecture and everything, and then to come inside and see this exhibit and also all the wonderful things that are upstairs in the Hall of Fame area.
You know, I was recently at the Metropolitan Museum in New York and I went to see this wonderful exhibit of turner, the English artist, and I got there around 11:00, and I got through like two hours and then my stomach was saying to me, come on, let's get something to eat. And I took a little lunch break and came back and spent another three or four hours.
So I feel like you have this chance here, too, to do that. And while it certainly tells dad's story beautifully, it really tells the story of our country, of things that we've been through as a people, and I can't help but think that Dad, who found in golf the ability to relate to all kinds of people, people that are everything from presidents to presidents of corporations to caddies on their days off to whatever, anybody that loved the game of golf, dad was an instant friend of.
This exhibit gives so many people the chance to see that and to partake in his goodwill, his fun, his chance to mix it up with people. That's what I love about this exhibit; it's such an alive thing. I mean, certainly with the video, being able to see Dad and see moments of him doing different things, but his quotations, which they've incorporated so beautifully, and it's just like he's really here. And I'm sure he is, because he wouldn't let a beautiful day with weather like this and so many golfers here get by without him wanting to hit a few balls.
Anyway, my heartfelt thanks to everybody here that helped make this wonderful memory possible.
JACK PETER: Thank you, Linda. At this time we'll open it up for some questions from our esteemed members of the media.

Q. Can you tell me what movie it was where this song was sung? I was like flipping through channels one night --
LINDA HOPE: With Arnold?

Q. No, it was on a boat.
LINDA HOPE: Oh, the song was from the Big Broadcast of 1938, and he introduced the song. He was just very newly arrived in Hollywood, and this was a little bit of a test because he had done some screen tests when he was back in New York, and they hadn't gone awfully well, a lot of his buddies, Fred MacMurray and a lot of the fellows that he was with in Vaudeville had come out to Hollywood and made a success. But Dad, his screen tests didn't do that well. So he took it all with a grain of salt, okay, I'll come out and do the one picture because he had gotten very popular on the radio.
They gave him this song to do, and this was Dad's really first time in front of the camera, and he used to tell the story of how the director, Mitch Leisen I guess his name was, took him aside and said, "Bob, listen, you know, you're used to the theater and to the stage, and that's where you emote with your whole body and everything. But here in Hollywood with the big screen and everything, it's all in the eyes." So dad says the next take he did, his eye were all over the place (laughter). The director took him aside again and said, "Bob, you know what I just told you? Forget about it."
So this was the take they used, and the song went on, I believe, to win an Academy Award. Didn't it, Jan? And it was in the movie "The Big Broadcast," and actually it was kind of a bittersweet song. They were breaking up.
But what he used to do was take that song, which became associated with him, and at the end of every radio and television program he did a special lyric that would salute whatever group it was where he was appearing or whatever.

Q. You never saw a USO show or a live show where he didn't have a golf club in his hand. It looks like any time he made an appearance at his own tournament or any golf course, it looks like he's having fun. Around the house was he obsessive about golf to the point where just spur of the moment he'd practice putting or practice his swing? Was he that way in private and his love for the sport where he just liked the feel of having a golf club in his hand?
LINDA HOPE: That's very true. He did love the feeling of a golf club in his hand. Jan and Kelly can attest to the fact that he had a big huge container in his dressing room that was filled with different golf clubs people had given him. I'd often go up there and he'd be practicing his grip. That was one thing.
And then he had a little -- really just one green and several different areas that you could hit different kinds of shots from, and so that was his own backyard. And I would say that it was very much a part of him.
And also, when we would be having dinner growing up, that was the main subject of conversation. We would get to hear the jokes for his shows. He'd practice his monologues and stuff like that, and as soon as that was over with, or if it was passed and he had just done a show and hadn't gotten the new stuff ready, he would then talk to my mother endlessly about golf, who told him to do what on what day. So it was his life and hers, too. They just adored golf.

Q. And I know he did -- obviously he played with Jack and Arnie and Hogan and Snead, having them on the shows. But was there a golfer that maybe he admired the most that you can recall? Did he have person that he really -- in addition to making an appearance with this golfer or whatever, was there one guy he really liked?
LINDA HOPE: I don't know that I would single out any pro that he liked any more than any others, but I think --

Q. Or the guy's game?
LINDA HOPE: I think one of the guys that he really admired was Gerald Ford, and he had great fun playing golf with him. He respected Ford and loved playing with him because I think he got to win quite a few times, too (laughter).

Q. I know when you're Bob Hope and you show up at a golf course, people will let you on. But at what clubs out in Southern California was he a member?
LINDA HOPE: Gosh, his first club was Lakeside Golf Course in Toluca Lake, and my mother tells the story that when we went out to do this Big Broadcast in 1938 she was very much a New Yorker and she was saying, yeah, this will be fine, we'll do this for a couple months and back to New York, and she'll continue with her singing and he'll do his thing in Broadway or whatever.
So the thing is she was at the beauty parlor one day, and somebody was talking, and they said, "Oh, I understand Bob joined Lakeside," and that was how she learned that they were going to be living out in California (laughter). Lakeside was their principal course.
And then they played all the LA Country Club and Palm Springs, the public -- I think it's now a public course, or maybe it's now a private course, but O'Donnell's was the course right against the mountains and it was very close to their home, and they used to play there all the time. In fact, my mother had a couple of birthday parties for my dad at O'Donnells where people went around in golf carts and played the different holes and all of that. And then, of course, Thunderbird and El Dorado and Tamarisk and all the major clubs. If he wasn't a full-fledged paying member, he was certainly an honorary member of so many of them.
And all around the country. In fact, I was in New York not too long ago and a good friend of his Bill Fugazy, who had a travel service and all of that, said -- I wish I could think of the name of the golf course in New York but it was close to Manhattan. Was it Winged Foot? Anyway, he said, "My locker is right next to your dad's locker and I wanted to take the things out of it because people are trying to get in there and take little mementos."
He was all over the place.
JACK PETER: If there's no further questions, we will begin to wrap this up. Again, thank you for being with us this afternoon. The induction ceremony starts at 6:00 p.m. tonight. It will air later on The Golf Channel at 9:00 p.m. eastern time. Thank you again for being here, and enjoy the rest of your afternoon.

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