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Dec. 15, 1964: Bob Hope and actress Jill St. John perch on a jet engine before taking off from Los Angeles International Airport on a flight to Southeast Asia for his 13th annual two-week Christmas tour of U.S. military bases. Others making the trip are, from left, Pat Shelly, with elephant, Anita Bryant, Jerry Colona, Janis Paige, Ann Sydney, Miss World of 1964, and Anna Maria Alberghetti. This photo was published in the Dec. 16, 1964, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times Archive/UCLA

1945: Bob Hope performing for servicemen at the Hollywood Guild and Canteen. This photo is from the old Los Angeles Daily News, which in 1954 was purchased by Times-Mirror and merged with the Los Angeles Mirror.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: LA Daily News archive/UCLA

Dec. 31, 1954: Los Angeles Times columnists Hedda Hopper and comedian Bob Hope entertain troops at Thule Air Force Base in Greenland, only 800 miles from North Pole. This photo was published in the Jan. 6, 1955 Los Angeles Times.


Dec. 16, 1957: Bob Hope gives actress Jayne Mansfield a lift as a USO troupe prepares to leave for overseas performances for the military. Johnny Grant, left, Hedda Hopper and Roscoe Ates look on. The troupe left from Burbank's Lockheed Air Terminal, later renamed Bob Hope Airport. The photo was published in the Times the next morning.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Steve Fontanini / Los Angeles Times

Dec. 28, 1959: First to greet comedian Bob Hope on his return from an eight-day Christmas tour of military bases in Alaska is his dog Recession, which became the father of five pups born to Robert Mitchum's dog on Christmas Eve. This welcome home image was published on Page 3 of the Dec. 29, 1959 L.A. Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times Archive/UCLA

Dec. 14, 1970: As Bob Hope waves goodbye, his grandson Zachary, 22 months, crawls up steps into the aircraft. Zachary is the son of Tony and Judy Hope. This photo was published Dec. 15, 1970, on the Times Metro section front.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: John Malmin / Los Angeles Times

Dec. 14, 1968: Bob Hope and members of his troupe prepare to leave for Vietnam on a flight from LAX.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Frank Q. Brown / Los Angeles Times

Dec. 14, 1968: Bob Hope, right, is joined by members of his troupe for his 18th Christmas trip to entertain servicemen overseas. From top to bottom: Santa, retired Air Force Gen. Emmett O'Donnell, singer Linda Bennett, actress Ann-Margret and then-reigning Miss World Penelope Plummer. The photo was published on Page 3 of the Dec. 15, 1968, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Frank Q. Brown / Los Angeles Times

December 1969: Bob Hope cracks jokes to an audience of thousands of GI's massed in an open-air theater in Cu Chi, 20 miles northeast of Saigon, during a Christmas tour of Vietnam.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Associated Press

December 1971: Bob Hope entertains troops at Cu Chi, 20 miles northeast of Saigon.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Associated Press

Dec. 25, 1983: Bob Hope, center, emerges from a tinsel decorated bunker during a visit to U.S. Marine camp near Beriut, Lebanon. Hope said, "I'm happy to be here at the 181st ceasefire in Labanon." Hope gave a special one-man show to 1200 Marines on Christmas morning - arriving unannounced for security reasons.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Gary Null / NBC/Associated Press

Dec. 27, 1983: Bob Hope gets a hug from an unidentified fan upon his return to Van Nuys Airport after a trip entertaining American troops in Lebanon. This image was published on Page 3 of the Dec. 18, 1983, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Rosemary Kaul / Los Angeles Times

Dec. 21, 1987: Phyllis Diller hams for the camera during a send-off for Bob Hope and other entertainers at the Air National Guard base at Van Nuys Airport. The troupe, not including Diller, was leaving for an eight-day tour of U.S. military bases. Diller attended to help with the send-off activities. This image was published in the Dec. 22, 1987, Los Angeles Times Valley Edition.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times

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Bob Hope entertains the troops

Over a 50-year span, Bob Hope entertained American troops overseas. Many of his USO tours were completed over Christmas with his departures and arrivals often covered by Los Angeles Times photographers.

In 2003, Times staff writer Al Martinez reported in Bob Hope’s obituary:

His face was known to millions of Americans spanning three generations, perhaps especially those who served in the military during World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars.

The comedian began entertaining servicemen and women at U.S. bases in 1941—starting at California’s March Field near Riverside — and in 1948 began annual Christmas shows at American bases overseas.

Hope was never a member of the military. But on Oct. 29, 1997, when he was 94, he became the first American designated by Congress as an “honorary veteran of the United States Armed Forces” ….

His shows for the troops — with an entourage of other comics, singers, dancers and pretty girls — lasted for half a century, often not far from the fighting, earning Hope praise for his patriotic efforts and criticism for his hawkish stance during the Vietnam War.

He once said — either exaggerating for effect or on the level — that he had traveled almost 10 million air miles entertaining American service personnel around the world. He ended his regular Christmas shows in 1972 during the difficult days of the Vietnam War.

The hiatus lasted 11 years. In 1983, at 80, Hope once more hit the road, this time traveling to Lebanon, where a peacekeeping force of U.S. Marines and ships of the 6th Fleet had gathered to attempt, without success, to stem the internal bloodshed in Beirut.

The comedian entertained first aboard the naval ships off the coast and then, to everyone’s surprise, went ashore to give the Marines his special brand of humor. He got out a scant 30 minutes before the compound at which he appeared came under shell fire.

“If this is peace,” Hope asked the cheering troops, “aren’t you glad you’re not in a war? I was told not to fraternize with the enemy, and I won’t … as soon as I figure out who it is.”

In 1990, the octogenarian Hope was in the Middle East cheering troops in Operation Desert Shield and then Operation Desert Storm, the first U.S.-led campaigns against Saddam Hussein.

The above photo gallery includes a couple Associated Press photos of Bob Hope performances overseas.

Los Angeles Times staff photographer Robert Lachman’s father, Mort Lachman, was a writer for Bob Hope. Some of Mort Lachman’s images are posted here.


  1. December 24, 2011, 8:53 am

    Mr. Hope was a national treasure. I'm sure he's still "entertaining"….someone, somewhere. The writer has politely not referred to the invasion of Lebanon by Ariel Sharon. He calls it, "internal bloodshed in Beirut." One U.S. Marine confronted an Israeli tank, standing directly in its path, pointing his .45 saying, "You will proceed over my dead body." The tank turned around. Mr. Hope's comment "I was told not to fraternize with the enemy, and I won’t … as soon as I figure out who it is.” Thankfully President Obama is bringing our boys home….in time for Hannukah, Christmas, and the New Year. Peace is a good thing.

    By: lou
  2. February 11, 2017, 3:32 pm

    This is Maz from Australia. My husband and I had the pleasure to entertain Bob Hope at the Montien Hotel in Bangkok in1969 when he came through with our Aussie Miss World. Later on, in 1973 we were performing on Guam, and watched his last show with Les Brown's Orchestra. We entertained the air troops, and they took us to the chow kitchen and Bob Hope sat and ate pizza with all of us. He will always be a treasure in our hearts.


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