Episode 3

Bob Hope - Married to two women at the same time...and our Family ties

Jenn discovered that Bob Hope was technically married to two women at the same time...and supposedly both marriages occurred in Erie, Pennsylvania. Since we were living in Erie at the time, Jenn decided to put her historian hat on and explore the locations where Bob Hope probably walked in February of 1933 AND 1934.

Furthermore...Scott has family ties to Bob Hope through his great-grandfather who was a Hollywood prop master in the 50s, 60s, and 70s!!

Bob Hope was Married Twice?

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Transcript
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welcome back

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uh welcome to talk with History Podcast

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I am your host Scott I'm here with my

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wife and historian Jen uh on this

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podcast we talk about history's

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continuing impact on all of us and our

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personal journey through YouTube as we

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explore record and share our history

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walks with you

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today Jen we are talking about Bob Hope

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yes best known for as like the Larger

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than Life TV radio personality best

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known probably for the 1950s and 60s but

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really he got his start in the 30s so

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um so why are we talking about Bob Hope

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today

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well

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first off I I wanted really understood

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that I I love Bob Hope especially what

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he did with the Uso and I just always

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thought he was so

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personable and funny but we found

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ourselves living in Erie Pennsylvania

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for the last two years before we moved

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here to Virginia

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and one of the urban legends of Erie

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Pennsylvania is that Bob Hope was

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married in Erie PA

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and there was more to the story

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um

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that he also claimed to be married there

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a second time to his wife that he was

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with for 69 years

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and the story went that there was really

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no

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documentation to back up that second

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marriage

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so there's documentation for the first

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marriage as a marriage license it's on

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file at the Erie County Courthouse

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but there is no documentation of the

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second marriage even though they both

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always claim that they were married in

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Erie Pennsylvania as well so so how did

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you find out about that how did you hear

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about that I think I was just looking

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through you know when you moved to a new

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location you're searching Facebook and

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looking for local things to do in local

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stories and I think I there was a eerie

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like Memories page or an ear you know

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and they were talking about things that

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had changed in Erie or you know just

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bringing up old memories of Erie and

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someone had brought up that story and so

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I had read about it I just found it so

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interesting yeah so so why don't you if

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someone hasn't watched the video

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um why don't you talk a little bit about

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Bob Hope and and why especially for that

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era I mean he was just a massive Global

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figure yeah so Bob Hope

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he has a very much an American story so

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he's born in 1903 in England and his

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parents come over to America when he's

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four and they come through Ellis Island

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and they settle in Cleveland and he's

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one of seven boys

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and he's born Leslie T hope that's his

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name when he's born and

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I think to entertain his brothers

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probably get a word in edgewise he turns

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to dancing and singing and he gets his

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start in Vaudeville which most young

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actors in the 30s are going to start in

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Vaudeville and that's where you do

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it's a variety show of singing and

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dancing and little monologues on a stage

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kind of like a traveling show kind of

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like a circus Traveling Show without all

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the animals and Oddities right and

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that's how he kind of gets to start and

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if you

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think about geography Cleveland is only

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an hour and a half away from Erie it's

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to the West also on Lake Erie and then

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Buffalo is an hour and a half to the

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east of Erie so Erie always is on a

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circuit because it's so close to these

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major cities and back in that day it was

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on the circuit yes and and it is even

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today when even when tours

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um sure they come up from Pittsburgh

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Cleveland or Buffalo or something like

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that it's just easy to hit that town

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and so he had performed an area a couple

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times and

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and so then in the 19 actually in the

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1930s 1933 he has a Vaudeville partner

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named Grace who he marries

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at the Erie County courthouse and that's

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the one that they have the paperwork for

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they have the record of the paperwork

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for was January 25th

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1933 and they have the marriage license

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he uses his name Leslie

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and um and I think he he claims to be

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not Vaudeville I think she's a secretary

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and he's something else on the marriage

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license but it's filed and and they get

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married and somehow you know it doesn't

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work out

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but his second wife Dolores Reed who is

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his wife that most people will know for

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69 years and he will adopt four children

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with they both claim that they're

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married February 19 1934 so a little

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over a year later yeah so it sounds like

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that first year went really well for Bob

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Hope exactly so he must have met you

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know Dolores in that time they were in a

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play together called Roberta in 1934 I'm

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in they get married they claim to get

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married in February 1934 so

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January they meet so yeah him and Grace

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must not have hit it off very well I

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know in the divorce decree which is was

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is found by a historian

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filed in Cleveland

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DeForest isn't granted till November

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1934 which is after when he says he was

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married exactly he claims to have

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married Dolores February 1934 but the

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divorce isn't granted till November 1934

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and he claims gross neglect and

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um I think it's like a mean disposition

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or disagreeable disposition you know so

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who knows what that means exactly so I

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think that's what any man would put on

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divorce papers exactly yeah but him and

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Dolores always hold to the story that

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they were married in Erie

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February 19 1934 when really if you look

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at papers he was in New York on Broadway

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at that time now it's not saying you

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can't drive to Erie and get married you

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can

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but that's a good seven or eight hour

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drive by today's standards by today's

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standards and Erie seems to be so

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proud that they kept the original

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marriage license and kept the paperwork

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that they they say that they would have

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kept

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second paperwork if it actually would

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have been filed

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now

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that's not to Clay say that dolorison

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Bob were never really married because

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you will find celebrities sometimes use

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initials or they'll use

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different names pseudonym if they get

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married and maybe they had done that and

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maybe they had gotten married in another

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city in another place however they

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always claim February 19 1934 in Erie

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when he's still technically married to

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Grace still

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yeah now back then with information not

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traveling as quickly as it does today

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was that more common or was that still

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usually people back then would wait

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until divorce was final

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and then actually get married or was it

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just kind of like uh yeah follow the

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paperwork and you know she's mean so I'm

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gonna go somewhere else yeah I think

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it's a lot like that I think today DNA's

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technology is so fast

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and so

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documentation is so easy to check and to

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verify back then not so much and you

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could make up a story you could claim a

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story and you could stick by a story and

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who's going to actually verify it who's

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actually going to take the time to do

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that unless you're a big star like he

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was but I think they claim a small town

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like Erie because they can claim oh

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maybe they lost it or it wasn't filed

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correctly or something like that and

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since they knew Erie he'd already been

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married in Erie he could kind of talk

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about what the courthouse look like or

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sure you know give good verifying

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evidence did he perform in in Erie yes

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he did at the Warner Theater and I on

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the walk with history video we go there

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to the Warner Theater it's under

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construction in the video and because it

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was coveted at the time so they were

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taking the time to

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rehab it was a it's an older theater it

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was built by Warner Brothers

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um but yeah he had performed in Erie

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many times so saw a place he would know

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pretty well

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but

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no one's ever found any evidence of that

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second marriage and and I mean like I

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said Dolores and and Bob Hope were

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married for 69 years they had one of

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those marriages that people really look

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to

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as like a golden standard of Hollywood

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marriage now

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you will always hear stories of Bob

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Hope's philandering we don't I don't

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really talk about that but he was yeah

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there's a lot of that well he traveled

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quite a bit didn't he quite a bit Uso

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shows I think as we say it in the walk

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with history video but from 1941 to 1991

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he did 57 tours with the Uso oh my gosh

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so

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I think most every Leading Lady

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had some kind of affair with Bob Hope

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and they they openly admit to it and I

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think his wife Dolores was just

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accepting of it

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and I don't know if this story has

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anything to do with that because

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they're technically not married I mean

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common law depending on how long and

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what state you're in

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and what's interesting about that as

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well and I say this in the walk with

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history video

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is his first wife Grace

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he maintains a financial

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situation with her he takes care of her

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children by her second marriage and he

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pays for her funeral

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and even after he passes away Dolores

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still keeps up that Financial connection

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to Grace's children

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so

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I'm just

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telling you that truth I don't know what

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that Financial connection was all about

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but it seems like there's more

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there more there yeah now you mentioned

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connection now I actually have yeah the

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family connection uh in you know Six

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Degrees of Bob Hope

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um but so so once you talk about my

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family connection because you were

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actually more excited about my family

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connection and Bob Hope than I than I

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was when I found out about it so I I

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married a true Californian I married a a

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man with Hollywood history

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your great-grandfather Dwight Thompson

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was a prop master and I think he worked

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for Paramount and for Universal he did

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Ten Commandments he did The Greatest

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Show on Earth he did Some Like It Hot

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with Marilyn Monroe and Tony Curtis and

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Jack Lemmon

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he did rear window and in our home we

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have a picture a rear window the movie

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with Alfred Hitchcock and Jimmy Stewart

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I'm sitting here looking at it right now

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and he has placed the name cards under

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the windows so if you ever see the movie

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Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly kind of

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name every window they give him kind of

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like a cute name based on how they're

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acting or what they see and he actually

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has those name cards under the windows

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as he's setting curtains or

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props that you would see in the

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background like what's on the table or

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The Pianist on his the composer on his

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piano and things like that so we have a

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picture of him with Yul Brenner and Ten

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Commandments yep and we have a picture

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of him setting the basket in Moses yeah

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no and and just for for the audience

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right I was vaguely aware growing up

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right so in my youth I would drive from

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Central California down to Southern

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California to visit my grandparents and

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in the garage yes I always remember

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seeing so he used to work this set of

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Bonanza yes all of he did all of the

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episodes he did every single at the All

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Seasons all the episodes and all that

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stuff right so so that was his regular

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job and I always remember seeing in my

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childhood I would that's where we would

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go down and we would play Nintendo and

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then the adults would be in the other

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rooms like hoping that we didn't come

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bother them but I always remember seeing

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the the three main characters

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from Bonanza with their signatures to my

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great grandfather yes and it's just it's

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in my I can picture it right now but

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just above the light switch in my garage

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just down the stairs off to the right

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that's where the picture would just hang

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it might still be there I'm like Michael

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Landon yep

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um the Ponderosa right the ranch see we

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we don't even I our parents would know

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better than us yeah but um

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but so your connection is your

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grandmother so his daughter

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your grandmother has a picture with Bob

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Hope and it's it's signed to her and

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dedicated and it looks like a very

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familiar picture yeah she was she looks

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like she was probably 16. she's a

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teenager yeah and it looks like she's in

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a home with him or like it doesn't look

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like she's at some kind of signing thing

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it looks like she's like oh he probably

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brought her to work one day because he

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did a movie with him he did fancy pants

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with him and Lucille Ball it's on his

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IMDb page if you ever look up Dwight

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Thompson and

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maybe he had brought her

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that's your grandmother his daughter

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maybe he had brought her to the set one

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day or something like that yeah but

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that's how we have uh that family

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connection to Bob Hope yeah which which

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I have through marriage now yeah yeah so

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it's it's been really interesting and

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again for for those listening and for

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those who haven't seen the video

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um we talk a little bit about in my

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family connection but it's it's fun to

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talk a little bit more about it here

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because you really Dove more into

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my family ties with Bob Hope and the

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movie industry and I started finding out

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about my family history in the in

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Hollywood through you because you were

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asking my father and yes he had all

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these records and old things we've got

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movie scripts sitting in our house now

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yes we got the call sheets to um The

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Greatest Show on Earth with Charlton

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Heston and Jimmy Stewart

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CeCe DeMille movie which was um

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same thing as Ten Commandments and then

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we have a call sheet from Some Like It

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Hot with the Marilyn Monroe going to set

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at the hotel Dell yeah so it was

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interesting doing this video because it

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let us explore not just Bob Hope and his

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two supposed marriages and the

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interesting kind of secret there that

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not a lot of people know about but if

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you're from Erie yeah it's kind of a

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part of you know the in these small

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towns Erie is about a hundred thousand

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people yes and for for I would call it a

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smaller City in the greater United

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States

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someone a big character like that that's

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a that's a kind of a point of Pride

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there yeah it's a big deal I mean Bob

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Hope

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we were trying to think about who would

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be the equivalent to him today and we

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can't really think of someone because he

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was a larger than life figure he did

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like 54 feature films he did a ton of

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things with Bing Crosby he went he was

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one of those actors who transitioned

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from Radio to feature film and then he

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hosted the Academy Awards forever yeah

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so I was trying to think about it and at

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first I was like well maybe Jay Leno

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right The Tonight Show but he did Jay

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Leno didn't travel all over the world

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going to Uso show so I think if you

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combined like Billy Crystal Jay Leno and

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you know take someone from Radio

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put them all together yeah that was Bob

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Hope I mean Bob Hope was the larger than

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life host I mean he was the Hollywood

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host that's how I would describe him for

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the 50s it was a huge influence on the

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Uso he it's because of him that Marilyn

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Monroe went on the Uso tours and Ann

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Margaret like he was the the pull for

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all that I mean he was

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he was his comedic timing they say his

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comedic timing is one of the best in

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history although I I will say one thing

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when I was researching stuff for the the

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YouTube video and I encourage folks to

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go watch it if you're listening because

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it is very interesting and I find some

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old Uso clips and and the clips and the

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jokes that he tells overseas to these

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GIS overseas he would not be able to

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tell today they don't stand up in time

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no yeah I mean I would say probably 40

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of them don't he was pretty clean it's

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not like he was cursing like no it was

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just the cultural it was the more

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cultural references that like back then

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people didn't think about today he would

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get canceled totally get canceled he um

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he was self-deprecating of course he

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would definitely make fun of himself and

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his one-liners are great and so funny a

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lot like Billy Crystal right does

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um

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but yeah he definitely was a larger than

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life character and

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the marriage

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like the the marriage story is just a

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very very interesting story and that's

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why we kind of have the thumbnails kind

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of of him saying like shh be quiet

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because it's kind of like a secret yep

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that he never really married

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I mean there's no documentation that he

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ever really married Dolores

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and I don't know if I actually

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convey that very well in the video

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because it is one of our early videos

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yeah and I'm trying to say it but that

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that's the whole point is he a bigamist

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or did he lie

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about his

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um second marriage yeah well and this

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was our third video I think that we had

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done so right then if we transition over

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to talking about how we're filming and

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how we're trying to figure this out like

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we had literally this was our third one

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filming right you were still getting

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used to yes the handling the camera and

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talking to the camera and I was getting

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used to trying to how to tell these

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stories which is difficult to do when

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there's lots of information and you're

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trying to tell a story about a true per

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you know a real person true events and

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still keep it interesting yes

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um so that so that was difficult so you

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know it's one of our earlier videos I

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would say more recent videos If folks

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are interested they can go watch but um

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it was still just a very interesting

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because he is he is Americana he is

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embodied so um people know that profile

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absolutely it's yeah absolutely now

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there was uh

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I mean Bob Hope was kind of a jokester

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all the way

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basically until his deathbed oh yes

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so um do you remember what he said to

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his wife

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um when she asked him where where would

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you like to be buried do you remember

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what he said to her I don't he said

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surprise me he said surprise me so so if

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you think about that right here's Bob

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Hope you know knowing that he's probably

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gonna pass uh before too long and his

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wife says hey where do you want to be

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buried and he just says surprise me yeah

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um he dies at 100 in 2003 so it was a

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hundred it's a hundred oh my gosh well

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so

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again this this was a very interesting

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video and it was fun to make because not

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only do we live in Erie

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and that Erie had ties to Bob Hope and

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his first marriage and supposedly his

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divorce and second marriage which no one

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was able to ever confirm so that's what

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we point out in the video is hey was he

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technically married to two people at the

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same time

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um

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and then from there Not only was there

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that in here in Erie but then I go on to

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find out through you through my family

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that I have personal ties we have family

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ties now to Bob Hope through my family

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and my great grandfather who worked in

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the Hollywood Hollywood industry he was

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a prop Master for many old movies yes in

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the uh 60s 70s 50s all that stuff so

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um again thank you Jen for kind of

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taking us through an interesting fact

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that a lot of people don't know about

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Bob Hope who was a larger than life

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character for those who were listening I

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I we thank you for listening please feel

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free to share this podcast with your

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friends if you think that they would

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find this kind of these kinds of topics

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fun to listen to you can reach out to us

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on Twitter at talk with history and tell

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us where in the world you're tweeting

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from and I want to know if you guys know

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of any other interesting uh facts about

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Bob Hope for those listening if you on

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Twitter or you can just reach out to us

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through our website talk with

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history.com let us know if you know

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anything else interesting about Bob Hope

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absolutely are you rediscovering him now

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through us or did you know who he was

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yeah so thank you again and we will talk

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to you guys again soon thank you

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foreign

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[Applause]

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[Music]

About the Podcast

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Talk With History
A Historian and Navy Veteran talk about history inspired travels, their YouTube channel journey, and examine history through conversations with the curious, the explorers, and the history lovers out there

About your host

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Scott Bennie

Host of the Talk With History podcast, Producer over at Walk with History on YouTube, Editor of the Hashtag Historic newsletter.