McALLEN – Nearly every sane adult in America is worried this summer.
Newspapers, television and radio report much bad news all day.
One book can make old-timers mad, jealous ... or happy for him.
I found it in the McAllen Library and devoured its 480 pages in three days this month.
Bob Hope, a great American in many ways, was still living when the book came out in 1993. He lived to be 100 years old and died in 2003.
Not seeing or hearing it before, I was shocked to read that Arthur Marx called his book "The Secret Life of Bob Hope," and accused him of many misdeeds.
Marx said, "The public image of the smiling, gentle, good-humored super patriot was not the true Hope."
"Not at all," says Marx. "That image is phony. It's an artificial portrait painted by the press after careful manipulation by a high-powered Bob Hope public relations machine."
"In reality, Hope is also mean-spirited and hypocritical. He is a paradox. He treats his family generously and then is cheap and cruel to his writers," Marx said.
The book by Marx is vastly different from a World Book eulogy printed when Bob Hope died.
Donald Leibenson wrote in the World Book, "Bob Hope's show business career began in vaudeville and in the 1920s and moved around the Broadway stage. He eventually found fame in motion pictures and on the radio and television. In his lifetime, he became an American institution for whom theaters and schools were named. This was due in large part for his long dedication to American troops, particularly U.S. soldiers based overseas."
Despite some big criticisms of Hope's life, especially by Marx, and some other people who liked him or were jealous of him, Hope remains a hero to most Americans. The people who saw him go into danger to entertain troops overseas and in battle congratulated him whenever he appeared with some of his fellow entertainers.
Many jealous people, or indeed many people who no longer worked with him, criticized him for one thing or another. He became one of the richest men in all of the United States.
So I suggest if you want to see both sides of him, you can thank Bob Hope for the memories, his theme song for many years and see for example, the great four pages that Donald Leibenson wrote in the 2004 edition of the World Book encyclopedia Yearbook, or many of the books that were written by Hope and by many other people.
I must say I enjoyed both the books that Bob wrote with some good helpers, and for many others that wrote for him, more than people who tried to put him down. He remains to this day one of the all-time great humorists and legendary entertainers in American history.
Go see for yourself in the McAllen or other libraries or find some still around in bookstores, I believe. In all the thousands of books I have read, this was one of the most Interesting, funny and patriotic in one package. I'm apt to keep reading them as long as I live, which tells you how funny this man's life was, starting from coming to America with his family at age four and becoming one of the richest people and a philanthropist who gave away millions of dollars.
Bob Hope had his faults, true. But nobody ever went to court or hurt anyone for some of his indiscretions. I like to think that someone in heaven will find a way to listen to his jokes.