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For UF, A Special Delivery of Hope

Bob Hope’s massive personal memorabilia collection has a home at UF’s Smathers Library. Here are 5 fun facts about the new arrivals.

A 1998 Hasbro Classic Collection commemorative Bob Hope GI Joe

He’s the most famous entertainer Gen Alpha students have never heard of. He holds the record for hosting the Academy Awards a whopping 19 times. He headlined Gator Growl three times.

And now, a large portion of his personal memorabilia lives at UF.

Comedian and actor Bob Hope died in 2003 at age 100. But in late 2019, his daughter, Linda Hope, who leads the Bob & Delores Hope Foundation, donated a large portion of his personal memento collection to UF’s George A. Smathers Libraries.

A portion of the Hope collection was stored at the World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine after Hope was inducted there in 1983. Through discussions with the Hope Foundation and the Hall of Fame, it was decided UF would accept a large percentage of the collection. After all, UF’s Smathers Libraries have a great reputation for preserving collections, using them to further scholarship and maximizing public access through its digital collections division.

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This TV Guide advertisement, published in November 1996, promoted Bob Hope’s last television special.

This collection is being cataloged and curated by Jim Liversidge, curator of the libraries’ Popular Culture Collections. Liversidge says it will take him the rest of this year to document every item and select pieces for a spring 2022 public exhibition.

Liversidge says when he mentions Hope’s name to current UF students, most are not familiar with the entertainer. “With his collection here, new generations of students will learn about Hope’s phenomenal career,” he said.

Bob Hope and singer-actor Bing Crosby in the film “Road to Utopia,” on the cover of Life magazine’s Feb. 4, 1946, issue

Here are five fun facts about Bob Hope and UF’s big score:

  1. Bob Hope kept everything during his career – every program, honorary award, photo, gift and media clipping he came across. Liversidge says items now at UF include Hope’s personal scrapbooks, photos, stage costumes, awards, artifacts and one-of-a-kind memorabilia, such as an Oscar facsimile that looks like it has a broken arm. It was given to Hope as a gag to represent the lengths he would go to win the real Academy Award. Hope received a nomination but never the coveted statue.
  2. More than 500 boxes from the collection are on hand now. Liversidge expects the final shipment of several hundred boxes to arrive in a few months.
  3. The collection will find its way into classrooms. Library staff have already identified professors who want to use the collection to teach students about pop culture, performing arts, 20th century history, military service and philanthropy because Hope’s career spanned global wars, social change and celebrity culture. Hope’s style influenced modern stand-up comedy, which highlighted news of the day and well-known personalities.
  4. He supported the troops. Hope is perhaps most remembered for his work with the USO in war zones around the world. He performed for soldiers in every war from World War II to Desert Shield. Library staff are thrilled that Hope’s Vietnam mementos are already filling in previous gaps.
  5. Hope was a doll. Two of the unique items cataloged so far are a GI Joe doll Hasbro released in Hope’s likeness to commemorate his USO appearances and copies of the long-running comic book series “The Adventures of Bob Hope,” published in the 1950s and ‘60s.

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A promotional USO handbill for Bob Hope’s last tour (1990) to entertain servicemen in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain during Operation Desert Shield