Bob Hope, womanizer
Not to get too technical, but weblog "publishers" are able to track the hits that their pages get, as well as where those readers came from. (Don't worry, it's all anonymous.) In the last couple days, I've gotten a lot of traffic from Google searches about Bob Hope. Interestingly, the key words turning up most often are "Bob Hope womanizer". (There are also a fair number of people looking up "Bob Hope asshole", but that's not so surprising.) Since yours truly is always interested in giving his readers what they want, I thought I'd share some of my favorite anecdotes pertaining to that subject from Arthur Marx's biography The Secret Life of Bob Hope.
His longtime secretary Jan King summed him up best: "He's a lecher who had women stashed all over town." His payroll was always filled with his latest girlfriends, and he actually had an apartment building close to his house filled with his current "dates". (He even had an employee whose job was to make sure the girls got their monthly payoffs.) Hope never met a beauty queen he couldn't-- and wouldn't-- hit on, which was his main reason for emceeing so many pageants over the years.
Jan King's interview with the Globe in 1991 was one of only three times Hope's philandering was ever made public (before Marx's book, that is). The first was a famous 1956 piece in Confidential, a gossip magazine of the time. It featured an interview with B-movie actress Barbara Payton about her time with Bob. In it, she complained that the only gifts he'd ever given her were a kingsize bed and three jars of jam. (After Hope dumped her, her alcoholism became severe and she ended up as a five-dollar hooker before committing suicide at 39.)
She was replaced immediately by Marilyn Maxwell, an Iowa-born actress who had earlier had an affair with Frank Sinatra. Bob wasn't shy about telling her what he wanted. From the Marx book:
"Hy Steinman, publisher of the now-defunct Confidential magazine, tells of a time when Hope and Maxwell were flying back from a golfing weekend in his private plane, when the comedian suddenly got the urge to have her perform oral sex on him while they were in the air.
"She seemed agreeable to this until she discovered he had a bad case of poison ivy on his penis, which he had contracted while urinating in some deep rough on the golf course. Seeing his condition, Maxwell recoiled in horror. But Hope saw no problem. 'I'll use a condom,' he advised."
As you might expect from the above, Bob's technique wasn't the greatest. Another B-movie actress, Jeanne Carmen, said of her first time with him, "I don't even remember [it]. That's how exciting it was." (She also referred to Hope as a "cheap prick" and she didn't mean it lovingly.) Many years later in a phone conversation, Hope told her that he woke up with a hard-on so big he "had to drop the window on it," to which she replied, "It must have been a small window."
Just as Hope was known to cheat on the women he was cheating on his wife with, there's a dark side to Bob's dark side that's disturbing, to say the least. His daughter Linda (whose lesbianism displeased her rightwing old man no end) went to an elite Hollywood parochial school with the daughters of many famous people in showbiz. According to one classmate, "Hope was actually repulsive around young girls. He had a dirty mouth, and he was kind of perverted. By perverted, I mean, like, well, he was an exhibitionist. Sometimes he'd come out without any clothes on, or if he was dressed, his fly would be open. And then he'd pretend it was a mistake. He was actually pretty open about it." Finally, her father told her she couldn't visit her friend because "Bob Hope is a very bad man."
So let's hear it for Bob-- great patriot, comedian, and family man. And great, great lover.
P.S. For a guy who was supposed to be so funny, his lack of comedic range is remarkable. He had one character-- Bob Hope-- and it didn't change one iota in seven decades. Some, like Phyllis Diller, would disagree; she told Marx, "He does two great dialects-- Negro and fag-- he just can't do them in public!"
Maybe he displayed more sides of himself on his official website. While it seems a bit out-of-date (except for the new "In memoriam" front page), now that Bob's completely dead, he might have more time to keep it current.
And finally, for those not easily offended, click here for the worst Hope photo ever. (Keep in mind, it's over three years old.)
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss City Pages' biggest stories.