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Come Laugh With Hope, All Ye Who Enter Here

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Beloved comedian Bob Hope’s legacy has gotten new legs with the opening of the Library of Congress exhibition “Hope for America: Performers, Politics & Pop Culture.” An online preview is available here.

“Hope for America” explores the special relationship between comedians and politicians and the way it changed in the century that encompassed Hope’s life and the years since his passing in 2003.

While powerful men have been letting funny foils lace their laughter with zingers since at least Shakespeare’s day (think King Lear and The Fool), Bob Hope, who was born in England, turned the free speech available on these shores into a veritable Zing-o-Matic. Presidents were a favorite target, and he was a favorite of at least 11 of those chief executives.

As the exhibition shows, he led the way for a tradition of U.S. political humor that continues even today, which has witnessed such phenomena as candidacies by comedians, some of whom have gone on to hold public office.

This new exhibition replaces a previous one in the same space, which focused on the history of vaudeville in the United States, the springboard for Hope’s own career.

“Hope for America” will draw from the treasured Bob Hope Collection, which was donated to the Library by the Hope family in 1998. On display will be Hope’s personal papers, joke files, films and radio and television broadcasts, along with other materials from the Library’s vast collections.

The exhibition also will examine entertainers’ involvement in a wide range of causes and campaigns, especially as leaders in supporting and entertaining American troops abroad. Hope’s commitment to public service for nearly 50 years on behalf of the men and women in the armed forces earned him many honors, including the U. S. Congressional Medal of Honor and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

“Hope for America: Performers, Politics & Pop Culture” is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday in the Library’s Bob Hope Gallery of American Entertainment on the ground floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St., S.E. in Washington, D.C.

Comments (3)

  1. Bob was a wonderful comediant,and I think maybe he was one of more representatives of the cultural moving and status of the post WWll generation.However,his particular way to face the reality,his finests moods,his always goodspeaking,don’t allow never one rudness,made of him one of the best in this gender.Mourn for him,great Hope.


  3. I grew up watching what Bob Hope did for our country and for the men and women who served our country. The humor and the political poking done during that time did not seem to disable people. Yet, today, the humor is more of a disemboweling of our government heads. We are called biblically to pray for them. It is my “Hope” that we can once again lift up our leaders whom we have voted into office, and stand beside them holding them to accountability and stabilizing this nation! Thank you for this tribute to Bob Hope!

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