After you see this film read below my experience of Bob Hope while in Korea during the war.
After the show he and actors John Hall, and Wally ford came to sit with us and shoot the breeze in our tents. He and they were and are unforgettable. Bob Dov Silverman of the 5th Marines.
This one brought back memories. He was a great comedian and so dedicated to the armed forces. Especially when they all needed some humor in their lives!
I always loved Bob Hope but this shows what a patriot he really was.
Incredibly beautiful. Watch it all!!
BOB HOPE and CHRISTMAS…DON’T MISS THIS!
This is not the normal Bob Hope USO show entertaining our troops that we have been viewing in the past on U tube but actually a video by Bob Hope telling us WHY these shows were performed and the effects the shows had on him, his performers and the servicemen who were in attendance.
This is really, really good. So many thoughts come back. Alan Alda talking about listening to the Bob Hope USO shows on the radio with his Dad.
Hope was asked to do an unscheduled show for a Marine base that was invading some place in the South Pacific in 1944. 15,000 men at that show, 60% would be dead in days. Don’t miss this, it’s just too good.
TENNESSEE MOUNTAIN MUSIC
Mary Ellen hopped out of the car, ponytail bouncing, pink skirt whipping her bony knees. “Grandpa,” she said. “I like rock music, not this hillbilly stuff.”
“Yeah,” Jeff her younger brother said, “Me too.” He wriggled his hips, bent his knees and flailed the air with both hands. “Can we rent those water scooters tomorrow?” He twisted his wrists, pursed his lips and gave out with a loud, “Zoom! Zoom! Zooooommm!”
The flashing lights of the Opry House reflected in the eyes of his two grandchildren. “Tomorrow,” Bob Davis said. “That is if you’re a lady and gentleman at tonight’s show.
“You’ve got a deal, Grandpa,” Mary Ellen said. She pointed to the old music hall. “Why is tonight’s music so important?”
“It’s in memory of a brave man.” Bob Davis turned to his grandson. “Jeff, here’s money for popcorn. We’ll meet you at the ticket booth.”
“Is the man going to be here?” Mary Ellen asked.
“No, he’s been dead a long time.” He patted his granddaughter’s head.
Jeff hurried back. “Grandpa Bobby, I got the popcorn and the lady’s telling everyone to go inside.
They settled into their seats and the theater lights dimmed. On stage, shadowy figures carrying musical instruments moved out from the wings, taking positions in front of mountain scenery. A fiddler played a haunting tune and the banjo followed. The old fiddler led the musicians through a medley of lively songs. Voices and instruments blended in full, rich harmony. The audience clapped, sang and stamped their feet in time to the music.
The lights came up and Mary Ellen looked at her grandfather and was frightened. “You’re crying,” She said.
“Have more popcorn.” Bob Davis said and he knuckled his eyes dry.
Mary Ellen passed the popcorn to her brother who put it between his knees so he could clap in time to the music. Mary Ellen stole quick glances at her grandfather until the music overcame her concern and her feet began tapping out the tunes of the wild mountain music. She and Jeff rocked with laughter when Uncle Goofus appeared on stage in colorful mountain-man’s costume. He made jokes, rolled his eyes under a floppy hat and skipped across the stage doing the Mountain-man’s Clog Dance.
The two youngsters joined in singing hymns learned at home and in church.
Then the music stopped and the old fiddler moved to a bench at center stage. The theater darkened, the spotlight focused on him and the audience fell silent. He pointed with his old resin bow and the spotlight illuminated a torn and battered American flag hanging on the wall. His deep mellow voice recalled the history of the flag. He started at Tun’s Tavern 1775, Bunker Hill, reminisced about Valley Forge, talked of Andrew Jackson in New Orleans. He cleared his throat when speaking of Bull Run and Appamatox. Then he spoke of the Battle of the Argon and Belleau Woods during World War I; Guadalcanal, Anzio, Normandy and Iwo Jima during World War II. The smooth, eloquent voice dwelled on Korea and Vietnam and the Gulf Wars.
During the telling of the story of America, people began to stand and face the flag with their hands over their hearts. Someone started to sing GOD BLESS AMERICA and everyone joined in. Low and subdued at first, the voices rose in power and volume, swelling every heart and soul with pride.
At song’s end, cheers rang out. The house lights came up, the performers bowed, and the audience showed it’s appreciation with a sustained ovation.
Finally, reluctantly, in thoughtful silence, people began filing out of the theater. But Bob Davis remained in place with his hand over his heart.
“Grandpa Bobby, aren’t we going back to the lake house?” Jeff asked.
Mary Ellen was concerned for her grandfather. She tugged his sleeve. “Everyone’s leaving,” she said.
“Sir,” Bob Davis called out to the old man with the violin on stage. “I have a request.”
“Thank you kindly,” the old man replied. “But the shows finished.”
“Sir, this is most important to me.”
The old fiddler shielded his eyes from the lights and looked out at Bob Davis. “What is it you want?”
“For you to play Old Rocky Top, that first tune you started the show with. Would you please play it all the way through?”
“That appeals to you, does it?”
In Korea, over 50 years ago today, a man gave his life for me and the men of Item Company Fifth Marines.”
The old man clutched the violin closer to his body.
“Sir,” Bob Davis continued, not noticing the musicians returning to the stage. “There was this truck driver, and he was brave. Three times he brought us ammunition in broad daylight up the Changdang Valley. Twice we were about to run out of bullets and grenades and we fixed our bayonets to beat the enemy from our trenches. But that driver came through a minefield, machine-gun and mortar fire to bring the ammunition in time. If not for him, my entire outfit would have been wiped out. And then on the third trip, he was killed.” Bob Davis drew his grandchildren close. “If not for him, Jeff and Mary Ellen wouldn’t be here.”
“What does my playing have to do with your story?” the old man asked.
“Sir, I never learned that truck driver’s name. But he was special not only for his bravery. He was a talented, trick fiddler from somewhere in Tennessee.”
“Did you hear him play?” the old man asked.
“At USO. shows. He would be introduced as a concert violinist to the movie stars and actors. We Marines knew he was one of us, a country boy. He’d begin by playing Mozart. The Hollywood people would look sophisticated and clap politely. Then he would rip that bow across the strings. We knew what was coming, Old Rocky Top. He fiddled high and he fiddled low. We saw the green hills of home. We could hear the streams running wild over the rocks, birds singing where there were none. He played while dancing, he played on his back. He played behind his back, standing on his head, under his leg and hopping across the stage, never missing a beat.”
Bob Davis caught his breath but the old man remained silent wishing to hear more.
“The Last USO show was with Bob Hope. Mr. Hope shook that young fiddler’s hand and told him, ‘Talent like yours must be encouraged. I make this solemn pledge before the men of the Fifth Marines. If this bright young fiddler comes to Hollywood, I will personally see he gets a screen test and nightclub bookings. He’ll stay at my home until his career takes shape. I am certain he will succeed.’
“Five days later that young Marine died saving us. The tune you began with this evening was the same one he performed for us at the USO shows. I’d like you to play it all the way through in his memory.”
“Grandpa Bobby,” Mary Ellen said. “The old man is crying.
The musicians gathered around the old fiddler. He dried his tears, tucked the violin under his chin and ripped his bow over the strings, filling the theater with the haunting melody of Old Rocky Top.
Tears ran down Bob Davis’ cheeks. He bowed to the old man and said, “Thank you sir.”
The old fiddler stepped forward to the edge of the stage. He looked over the footlights at Bob Davis and his children then said, “I taught that truck driver to play the fiddle.” He motioned to the musicians around him. “These folks are his family, brothers, sisters, cousins. I’m his father.” He pointed to the flag. “And that is the Fifth Marine battle flag you and he fought for in the Changdang Valley. I tell the story of the flag at every Opry. Just so folks won’t forget what America is about. And what my son gave to keep it.”