VIP Bob Hope

Bob Hope (May 29, 1903 - July 27, 2003)

According to Bob Hope: The Road Well-Traveled by Lawrence J. Quirk, America's best-loved comedian admitted to trying pot during his vaudeville days, when it was still legal and buddy Bing Crosby also enjoyed it. (Hope, smoking something, is shown with a dubious looking Crosby flanking Dorothy Lamour in a publicity shot for 1942's The Road to Morocco.)

Eddie Gordon, the Harmonicat who wailed us the opening strains of Sesame Street and Sanford and Son's theme songs, said in an interview in 2009 that befriended Hope when he went on his first USO tour with the The Harmonica Rascals. "I smoked with him all the time," said Gordon. "He was a pot-head.” The reason for Hope's split with Crosby, Gordon told me, was that Bing turned to alcohol after gage was made illegal.

On July 20, 2007 Sirius Radio Classics aired a 1944 Bob Hope broadcast from an air force base in Yuma, AZ. After some jokes about sneaking over the border for tequila, Hope appeared in a cowboy skit with the Andrews Sisters. When asked how his legs got bowed, "Dragalong" Hope replied, "I smoked one of them Mexican cigarettes. And I had a bad landing." In a later skit, Hope tried to interest a chum into visiting a Gypsy fortune teller played by Zsa Zsa Gabor. "Then we can eat the tea leaves," he said.

In 1970 Hope spiced up his act in Vietnam with jokes about marijuana, which met with roars of approval from soldiers. "I hear you guys are interested in gardening here," he quipped. "Our security officer said a lot of you guys are growing your own grass." Poignantly, he added that "instead of taking it away from the soldiers, we ought to give it to the negotiators in Paris." The jokes were censored from Hope's 1970 Christmas special, but he told them later on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.

In a candid interview in Rolling Stone (March 20, 1980) Hope said he'd given up cigarettes after having four eye hemorrages and had to quit booze too because of a bladder irritation. He added, "I smoked a little marijuana once, just to try it. This was about five years ago. I must say it made me a little gay -- no, not that way -- I had wanted to see where the effect was at. I've talked to a lot of doctors about it. It's just like liquor: it all depends on dosage and frequency, you know?"

In 1997 Hope became the first person recognized by the U.S. Congress as an “honorary veteran of the United States Armed Forces.” He also received the Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. On May 29, 2009 a US Postage Stamp was dedicated to Hope aboard the USS Midway in San Diego on what would have been his 106th birthday.

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