BOB HOPE FOREWORD:  Those Wonderful Guys

Well, it's been just about sixty-four years, and it went pretty fast, I wanna tell you. Even though everyone knows I left England when I was four because I found out I could never be king, I still managed to get started in a Jerome Kern Broadway musical in 1933, called Roberta. I played a character named Huckleberry Haines, no relation to Connie. Then I moved to Hollywood where I warbled my favorite, bittersweet tune Thanks For the Memory with Shirley Ross in a movie called The Big Broadcast of 1938. I haven't let go of that song since.

Looking back, those vaudeville and big band days were really something. I was kind of lucky working alongside many young male vocalists who worked very hard to establish themselves, trying to build their careers with the bands working vaudeville stages, and on radio and televisions shows. One of them was a guy called Bing Crosby. Funny name, Bing. I told him he'd never make it.

During the Second World War ( You remember World War II - it was in all the papers), and later in Korea and Vietnam, I had the privilege of working with some of those great guys, and later with fellows like Bill Farrell at Weisbaden, Germany, 1948, Andy Williams at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 1960, Jack Jones at Tan Son Nhut, Vietnam, 1965, Vic Damone at Chu Lai, Vietnam, 1966, Eddie Fisher at Bienhoa, Vietnam,  in 1967, and then that guy called Bing I was telling you about, who finally learned to sing under my tutelage in all those Road pictures, and finally made the big-time.

Richard Grudens has honored all of them, right here.  Jolson and Crosby. Sinatra and Bennett. Como and Cornell.  Tony Martin and Dean Martin. Joe Williams and Andy Williams.  Jeffries and Vale.  Damone and Lawrence.  Fisher and Beneke. Mathis and Martino.  La Rosa and Torme. Maria Cole tells Nat's story, Lee Hale tells Dean's story. Dom De Luise also tells about Dean  (How did a comedian get in here?). Lovely songbird Helen Forrest tells Dick Haymes' story, and Kathryn helped out with Bing.

There is also a chapter on all the early vocalists. Who could forget Rudy Vallee, Ted Lewis, Jack Teagarden, Cab Calloway, Fats Waller, Phil Harris, and Arthur Tracy, the Street Singer?  I knew them all.

And the arrangers are here too: Gordon Jenkins, Don Costa, Nelson Riddle, George Siravo, and Billy May. We all traveled the same road, like ships passing in the night.

All the great ones and the not so great ones are also here,  all of them in one terrific book, The Music Men. So grab an hour and check out this tribute. As Buddy rich once said to author Richard Grudens during an interview:  “ It's not a step back---this is not nostalgia---this is music to my ears.”

Gotta go now, I'm still working on my first Oscar. Thanks for the memory.

Bob Hope, Hollywood, California  January, 1998.


As a companion to The Best Damn Trumpet Player and The Song Stars, The Music Men, the last of a trilogy, with a foreword by sometime singer Bob Hope, explores the world of the men vocalists. Richard Grudens initiates a retrospective tribute to the early singers Al Jolson & Bing Crosby (with a letter from Kathryn), Fats Waller, Rudy Vallee, Jack Teagarden, Russ Columbo, Jimmy Rushing, and Nat King Cole (with Maria Cole). His heartwarming interviews or vignettes with living-legent artists, Frank Sinatra, Mel Torme, Jack Jones, Vic Damone, Herb Jeffries, Steve Lawrence, Tony Martin, Johnny Mathis, Julius LaRosa, Guy Mitchell, Jerry Vale, Joe Williams, Al Martino, Eddie Fisher, Andy Williams and Don Cornell are revealign, anecdotal gems. And who could forget Dick Haymes (with Helen Forrest's help), The Ink Spots, Ray Eberle and Bob Eberly, and Billy Eckstine. Features: Donald MIlls and the Mills Brothers, Sam Arlen, talks of his father, Harold Arlen (the singer), and a look at Lou Lanza, Philadelphia's new singing star, who carries the torch. The chapter, Honorable Mentions, covers almost all the singers of the era.

Richard Grudens provides a special insight into the lives of the Music Men and provides over 60 exceptional photos to enrigh your reading pleasure.

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