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Hope: Entertainer of the Century
With his topical jokes and his all-American, brash-but-cowardly screen character, Bob Hope was the only entertainer to achieve top-rated success in every major mass-entertainment medium of the 20th century: vaudeville, Broadway, radio, motion pictures, television and live stage performance. He virtually invented stand-up comedy, in the form we know it today. Above all, he helped redefine the very notion of what it means to be a star: a savvy businessman, an enterprising builder of his own brand, and a public-spirited entertainer whose Christmas military tours and unflagging work for charity set the standard for public service in Hollywood.
As Zoglin shows, there is still much to be learned about this most public of figures, from his secret first marriage and his stint in reform school, to his indiscriminate womanizing and his ambivalent relationships with Bing Crosby and Johnny Carson. Hope could be cold, self-centered, tight with a buck, and perhaps the least introspective man in Hollywood. But he was also a tireless worker, devoted to his fans, and generous with friends.
Hope is both a celebration of the entertainer and a complex portrait of a gifted but flawed man, who, unlike many Hollywood stars, truly loved fame, appreciated its responsibilities, and handled celebrity with extraordinary grace.