Bob Hope Salutes the Troops DVD Review: Thanks for the Military Memories

Six TV specials recorded while Hope and company were on the road entertaining U.S. servicemen and women.
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Bob Hope was a great supporter of the troops and performed many USO shows for them.  This 3-DVD set from Time Life presents six TV specials that aired over the years while he was on the road entertaining U.S. servicemen and women.

Disc 1 start with Bob Hope's Christmas Cheer in Saudi Arabia (aired 1/12/91) - Hope went to Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Shield, and this special features him on different stops during the trip.  He gives three different monologues and his frequent digs at Saddam Hussein always go over well with the crowd.  The Pointer Sisters sing "I'm So Excited", and Hope banters with Ann Jillian, Johnny Bench, and Khrystyne Haje.  The best segment features Marie Osmond and lucky serviceman Warren Freeman, who was brought up to sing "Crazy" with her.  Country singer Aaron Tippin is mentioned but didn't make the cut,

The Bob Hope Christmas Special: Around the World with the USO (aired 1/16/69) - Playing all over Asia and aboard a couple ships, Hope entertains the troops fighting the Vietnam War.  Ann-Margret performing "Dancing in the Street" went over well, but the troops seemed more into her dancing than her singing.  At different stops, Bob jokes and sings with Ann-Margret and then Linda Bennett, and just jokes with Rosie Grier.

Bonus Feature: Bob Hope: Memories of World War II (aired 8/5/95) - Hope and his wife Dolores reflect on what was going on during the time, starting with a trip home from England on the RMS Queen Mary, on which Hitler had put a bounty.  Hope recorded programs for the troops and then began his playing USO shows overseas.  Singer Frances Langford, who accompanied Hope, is interviewed and clips are pieced together to make it appear as if they are talking to each other, though they clearly aren't together.  The special will be of more interest to those interested in history rather than those looking for laughs.

Disc 2 presents two specials from the '60s.  The Bob Hope Christmas Special (aired 1/15/65) - Hope heads to the Far East with some lovely ladies, including Anna Maria Alberghetti, Jill St. John, Janis Paige, and Miss World Ann Sidney that the fellas enjoyed.  Hope does a funny bit with Jerry Colonna, who plays a Siamese twin. Alberghetti singing in Italian seems entirely lost on the crowd. 

The Bob Hope Christmas Show (aired 1/16/63) - Hope plays for many stationed in the Pacific with Lana Turner in tow.  In one goofy sketch, he is a bass-playing beatnik sergeant, and later, he plays a Chinese solider that would certainly bother some bloggers nowadays. Of course, Hope doesn't forget what the troops really want, which is why Miss USA Amedee Chabot was invited.

Disc 3 presents two specials from the '70s. The Bob Hope Christmas Special: Around the Globe with the USO (aired 1/17/72) - This special finds Hope and guests entertaining troops around the world.  They start in Hawaii, so it was only natural to see Don Ho.  The Blue Streaks are a wild act, a man and woman roller-skating duo whose appreciation by the audience is surely enhanced by what little the woman wears.  Oakland A's pitcher Vida Blue stops in to tease Hope and joins him for a song, Jill St. John makes a return appearance, and Rear Admiral Alan Shepard shows off his moon club at Guantanamo Bay, the last stop on Hope's '71 tour.

The Bob Hope Christmas Special (aired 1/17/73) - The folks at the Yokota Air Base must have been starved for entertainment because they are much more excited about juggler Rudy Cardenas than one would expect.  Funny in Thailand to see Hope competing with jets taking off on nearby runway, which is certainly funnier than his use of "almond eye" in a joke while he was in Korea.  There was an uncomfortable segment watching a soldier sing to Miss World Belinda Green, her body not her eyes.  This tour saw Hope joined by Redd Foxx, Lola Falana, but the clear favorites were a group of gals known as The American Beauties.

Currently available exclusively at Walmart, Bob Hope Salutes the Troops will be on sale in other locations on July 4.  Fans of Hope and his TV specials will appreciate this release, even though they show their age. 

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