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As we continue to socialize the launch of Talk With History, please feel free to check out our episode on Bob Hope…and his two marriages with an interesting twist…
Ep03: Bob Hope – Married to two women at the same time…and our Family ties
Welcome to talk with history Podcast. I am your host Scott, I’m here with my wife and historian, Jen. On this podcast we talk about history’s continuing impact on all of us. And our personal journey through YouTube as we explore, record and share our history walks with you.
Today, Jen, we are talking about Bob Hope, best known for as like the larger than life TV radio personality, best known probably for the 1950s and 60s, but really he got his start in the 30s. So yeah. So why are we talking about Bob Hope today?
Well,first off, I, I want it really understood that I love Bob Hope, with specially what he did with the USO. And I just always thought he was so personable and funny. But we found ourselves living in Erie, Pennsylvania, for the last two years before we moved here to Virginia, and one of the urban legends of Erie, Pennsylvania, is that Bob Hope was married in Erie, Pa. And there was more to the story.
That he also claimed to be married there a second time to his wife that he was with for 69 years. And the story went that there was really no documentation to backup that second marriage. So there’s documentation for the first marriage is a marriage license. It’s on file at the Erie County Courthouse. But there is no documentation of the second marriage, even though they both always claimed that they were married in Erie, Pennsylvania, as well.
So how did you find out about that? How did you hear about that?
I think I was just looking through, you know, when you move to a new location, you’re searching Facebook and looking for local things to do and local stories. And I think I, there was an eerie, like memories page on air, you know, and they were talking about things that had changed an area, you know, just bringing up old memories of Erie and someone had brought up that story. And so I had read about it. I just found it so interesting.
Yeah. So So why don’t you if someone hasn’t watched the video? Why don’t you talk a little bit about Bob Hope and, and why, especially for that era. I mean, he was just a massive global figure.
Yeah. So Bob Hope. He has a very much an American story. So he’s born in 1903, in England, and his parents come over to America when he’s four, and they come through Ellis Island, and they settle in Cleveland, and he’s one of seven boys. And he’s born Lezlie T Hope that’s his name when he’s born. And I think to entertain his brothers probably get a word in edgewise. He turns to dancing and singing and he gets a start and vaudeville which most young actors in the 30s are going to start in vaudeville. And that’s where you do…
It’s a variety show of singing and dancing and little monologues. And on a on a stage kind of a good traveling show kind of like a circus traveling show without all the animals and oddities, right. And that’s how he kind of gets a start. And if you think about geography, Cleveland is only an hour and a half away from Erie, it’s to the west, also on Lake Erie. And then buffalo is an hour and a half to the east of Erie so Erie always is on a circuit, because it’s so close to these major cities.
And back in that day, it was on the circuit.
Yes. And it is even today when when even when tours.
Sure they come. They come up from Pittsburgh,or buffalo.
Yeah, it’s just easy to hit that town. And so he had performed an area a couple times and and so then and then 19 actually, in the 1930s 1933. He has a vaudeville partner named grace, who he marries at the Erie County Courthouse, and that’s the one that they have the paperwork for. They have the record of the paperwork for was January 25 1933. And they have the marriage license. He uses his name Leslie and, and I think he he claims to be not vaudeville. I think she’s a secretary and he’s something else on the marriage license, but it’s filed and they
Get married. And somehow, you know, it doesn’t work out. But his second wife, Dolores Reed, who is his wife that most people will know, for 69 years, and he will adopt for children with. They both claim that they’re married February 19 1934. So a little over a year later.
So it sounds like that first year went really well for Bob.
Exactly. So he was the met. You know, Dolores in that time, they were in a play together called Roberta in 1934. And they get married, they claim to get married in February 1934. So January they meet so yeah, him and grace must not have hit it off very well. I know in the divorce decree, which is which is found by historian filed and Cleveland, divorce is in granted till November 1934, which is after when he says he was married. Exactly. He claims to her married the law is February 1934. But the divorce isn’t granted till November 1934. And he claims gross neglect. And I think it’s like a mean disposition, or disagreeable disposition. You know, so who knows what that means? Exactly. So
I think that’s what any man would put on divorce papers.
but him. And Dolores always hold to the story that they were married in Erie, February 19th 1934. When really, if you look at papers, he was in New York on Broadway at that time. Now, I’m not saying you can’t drive to Erie and get married, you can. But
that’s a good seven or eight hour drive. by standard by today’s standards.
And Erie seems to be so proud that they kept the original marriage license and kept the paperwork that they they say that they would have kept second paperwork, if that actually would have been filed.
Now, that’s not to clay say that Dolores and Bob would never really married because you will find celebrities sometimes use initials, or they’ll use different names. pseudonym, if they get married, and maybe they had done that, and maybe they had gotten married in another city in another place. However, they always claim February 19 1934 and Erie when he’s still technically married to gray still.
Yeah. Now, back then, with information not traveling as quickly as it does today. Was that more common? Or was that still usually people back then would wait until divorce was final? And then actually get married? Or was it just kind of like, Oh, yeah, I filed the paperwork. And you know, she’s mean, so I’m gonna go somewhere else.
Yeah, I think you know, I think it’s a lot like that. I think today’s day and age technology is so fast. And so documentation is so easy to check, and to verify back then not so much. And you could make up a story, you could claim a story and you could stick by your story. And who’s going to actually verify it who’s actually going to take the time to do that unless you’re a big star like he was but I think they claim a small town like Erie because they can claim of maybe they lost it or it wasn’t filed correctly or something like that. And since they knew Erie had already been married and airy, he could kind of talk about what the courthouse look like or sure you know, give good verifying evidence
did he perform in Erie?
Yes, he did at the Warner theatre, and I on the walk with history video, we go there to the Warner theatre, it’s under construction in the video. And because it was COVID at the time, they were taking the time to rehab It was a it’s an older theater It was built by Warner Brothers but yeah, he had performed an area many times so so a place he would know pretty well. But no one’s ever found any evidence of that second marriage and then I mean like I said Dolores and Bob Hope were married for 69 years they have one of those marriages that people really look to as like a golden standard of Hollywood marriage now you will always hear stories of Bob house philandering we don’t i don’t really talk about that.
he was there’s a lot of that
well he traveled quite a bit didn’t he?
quite a bit uso shows I think, as we said in the walk with history video but from 1941 to 1991 he did 57 tours with the USL
Oh my gosh.
So I think most every leading lady had some kind of affair with Bob. And they they openly admit to it. And I think his wife, Dolores was just accepting of it. And I don’t know if this story has anything to do with that, because they’re technically not married. I mean common law depending on how long and what state you’re in.
And what’s interesting about that, as well, and I say this in the walk with history video, is his first wife grace. He maintains a financial situation with her. He takes care of her children by her second marriage, and he pays for her funeral. And even after he passes away, the Laura still keeps up that financial connection to Grace’s children. So I’m just telling you that truth. I don’t know what that financial connection was all about. But it seems like there’s more there
More there. Yeah. Now, you mentioned connection. Now I actually have a, family connection in you know, six degrees of Bob Hope. But so so once you talk about my family connection, because you are actually more excited about my connection to Bob Hope than I than I was when I found out about it.
So I married a true Californian. I married a man with Hollywood history. Your great grandfather, Dwight Thompson, was a prop master. And I think he worked for Paramount and for universal he did 10 commandments. He did the greatest show on earth.
He did Some Like It Hot. With Malin Monroe and Tony Curtis and jack Lemmon. He did rear window and in our home, we have a picture of rear window the movie with Alfred Hitchcock. And
I’m sitting here looking at it right now.
And he has placed the name cards under the windows. So if you ever see the movie, Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly kind of name every window they give him kind of like a cute name based on how they’re acting or what they see. And he actually has those name cards under the Windows as he’s setting curtains or props that you would see in the background like what’s on the table. The piano Stan has the composer on his piano and things like that. So we have a picture of him with Yule Brenner in 10 Commandments
and we have a picture of him setting the basket and Moses
Yeah, no and just for the audience right? I was vaguely aware of growing up right so in my youth I would drive from Central California down to Southern California to visit my grandparents and in the garage. I always remember seeing so he used to work the set of Bonanza yes all of he did all of the episodes he did every single app the all seasons all the episodes and all that stuff right so so that was his regular job and I always remember seeing in my childhood I would that’s where we would go down and we would play Nintendo and then the adults would be in the other rooms like hoping that we would didn’t come bother them but I always remember seeing that the three main characters from Bonanza with their signatures to my great grandfather and it’s just it’s in my I can picture it right now but just above the light switch in my garage just down the stairs off to the right that’s where the picture would just hang it might still be there.
the Ponderosa ranch. See we don’t even I our parents would know better than us. Yeah, but um, but so your connection is your grandmother so his daughter your grandmother has a picture with Bob Hope. And it’s it’s signed to her and dedicated and it looks like a very familiar picture.
Yeah, she was she looks like she was probably 16 teenager
Yeah, and it looks like she’s in a home with him or like it doesn’t look like she’s had some kind of signing thing. It looks like she’s like oh, he probably brought it to work one day because he did a movie with him he did fancy pants with him and Lucille Ball. It’s on his IMDB page if you ever look up Dwight Thompson and maybe he had brought her that’s your grandmother his daughter maybe he had brought her to the set one day or something like that. Yeah, but that’s how we have that family connection to Bob Hope Yeah, which which I have to marriage now.
Yeah, yeah so it’s it’s been really interesting and again for those listening and for those who haven’t seen the video we talk a little bit about my family connection but it’s it’s fun to talk a little bit more about it here because you really dove more into my family ties with Bob Hope and the movie industry and I started finding out about my family history in the in the Hollywood through you because you were asking my father and yes he had all these records and old things that we’ve got movie scripts sitting in our house now.
Yes, we got the call sheet says the greatest showrunner with Charlton Heston and Jimmy Stewart. I cc demil movie, which was Same thing as 10 commandments and then we have a call sheet from Some Like It Hot Marilyn Monro going to set at the hotel del yeah
so it was an interesting doing this video because it let us explore not just Bob Hope and his two supposed it marriages interesting kind of secret there that not a lot of people know about but if you’re from Erie yeah it’s kind of a part of you know the in these small towns Erie about 100,000 people
And for for I would call it a smaller city in the greater United States. Someone a big character like that. That’s it. That’s a kind of a point of pride there.
Yeah, it’s a big deal. I mean, Bob Hope we were trying to think about who would be the equivalent to him today. And we can’t really think of someone cuz he was a larger than life figure. He did like 54 feature films. He did a ton of things with being Crosby. He went, he was one of those actors who transitioned from radio to feature film. And then he hosted the Academy Awards forever.
Yeah, so I was trying to think about it and at first I was like, well, maybe Jay Leno, right, the tonight show, but he did. Jay Leno didn’t travel over the world going to USO shows. So I think if you combine like Billy Crystal, Jay Leno, and, you know, take someone from radio, put them all together. Yeah, that was Bob Hope. I mean, Bob Hope was the larger than life host. I mean, he was the Hollywood host. That’s how I would describe him. Yeah. 50s and 60s,
huge influence on the USO. He, it’s because of him that Marilyn Monroe went on the USO tours and Anne Margaret, like, he was the pull. For all that. I mean, he was he was his comedic timing. They say his comedic timing is one of the best in history.
Although I will say one thing when I was researching stuff for the YouTube video, and I encourage folks to go watch it if you’re listening, because it is very interesting. And I find some old uso clips and clips in the jokes that he tells overseas to these guys overseas. He would not be able to tell today done stand up in time. No, yeah, I mean, I’d say probably 40% of them though. He was pretty clean. It’s not like he was cursing like, it was just the cultural it was the more cultural references that like back then people didn’t think about today, he would get cancelled.
Like a canceled, he um, he was self deprecating. Of course he would definitely make fun of himself and his one liners are great and so funny. It’s a lot like Billy Crystal does.
But yeah, he definitely was a larger than life character and the marriage like as though the marriage story is just a very, very interesting story. And that’s why we kind of have the thumbnail is kind of of him saying like, be quiet because it is kind of like a secret that he never really married. I mean, there’s no documentation that he ever really married Deloris and I don’t know if I actually convey that very well in the video because it is one of our early videos. Yeah. And I’m trying to say it but that that’s the whole point. Is he a bigamist? Or did he lie about his second marriage?
Yeah, one and this was our third video I think that we had done so right then if we transition over to talking about how we’re filming and how we’re trying to figure this out. Like we have literally This was our third one filming right you were still getting used to the handling the camera and talking to the camera and I was getting used to trying to how to tell these stories, which is difficult to do when there’s lots of information in you’re trying to tell a story about true you know, a real person true events, and still keep it interesting. Yes. So that so that was difficult.
So you know, it’s one of our earlier videos, I would say more more recent videos if folks are interested. They can go watch. But it was still just a very interesting because he is he is Americana he is embodied. So
people know that profile. Absolutely. It’s Yeah, absolutely.
Now there was I mean, Bob Hope was kind of a jokester. All the Way, basically until his deathbed.
Oh, yes. So do you remember what he said to his wife? When she asked him where would you like to be buried? Remember what he said to her?
He said surprised me.
He said surprise me. If you think about that, right, here’s Bob hopefully, knowing that he’s probably gonna pass before too long and his wife says, Hey, where do you want to be buried and he just surprised me.
He dies at 100 in 2003
100 my gosh, well, soagain, this this was a very interesting video and it was fun to make because not only do we to be live in Erie and that you He had ties to Bob Hope and his first marriage and supposedly his divorce and second marriage which no one was able to ever confirm. So that’s what we point out in the video is hey was he technically married to two people at the same time.
And then from there, not only was there that in here in Erie, but then I go on to find out through you through my family that I have personal ties, we have family ties now to Bob Hope through my family and my great grandfather who worked in the Hollywood Hollywood industry, he was a prop master for many old movies, in the 60s 70s 50s, all that stuff.
So again, thank you, Jen for kind of taking us through an interesting fact that a lot of people don’t know about Bob Hope who was a larger than life character. For those who are listening. I we thank you for listening.
Please feel free to share this podcast with your friends. If you think that they would find this kind of these kinds of topics. fun to listen to, you can reach out to us on Twitter at talk with history. And tell us where in the world you’re tweeting from and I want to know if you guys know of any other interesting facts about Bob, hope for those listening if you on Twitter, or you can just reach out to us through our website, talkwithhistory.com. Let us know if you knew anything else interesting about Bob. Oh,
absolutely. Are you rediscovering him now through us, or did you know who he was?
Yeah. So thank you again, and we will talk to you guys again soon.