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Bob Hope's 50th Anniversary Special


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NBC puts on a brobdingnagian extravaganza for the man Johnny Carson once called his least-favorite guest of all time. We get to see Lucy's "last" performance- which is an absolute knockout. This show's only Emmy nomination went to Lucy's song- written by Cy Coleman and James "Actor's Studio" Lipton. There's also an archival clip of Lucy and Bob doing "I Remember It Well". Lucy's seated right next to Bob so you get to see her (and Gary) throughout the show. She also appears in the finale during the credits. 

This video is nearly three hours long (with commercials) and it's still an incomplete recording. I only flipped through it. I can only imagine how long it took to film this monstrosity. 


Watch for the Oscars sendup, the Vaudeville tribute (both featuring Betty White), the USO Salute, Dolores Hope, Michael Landon and Brooke Shields, Dorothy Lamour, Rickles, Jonathan Winters, and, if you're interested, Nancy Reagan talk-singing Thanks For The Memory. 


Don't get me wrong- I love Bob Hope and appreciate his countless achievements, but around this time, his body of work (and his actual, physical body) starts to break down- and everyone seems intent on making it seem like the man cannot age. It just goes to show how beloved he was that NBC was allowing him to make specials all the way up to the mid-90s, when he really, really shouldn't have been appearing on camera.


At this point, the Hope specials were still pulling in big numbers. I'm sure this was huge. Is there any way to track down how this did? I read an old TV Guide from the '89-'90 season where they listed the ten most-watched specials of the year- three of which were Lucy-centric (Christmas Special, Very First Show, and Bob Hope's Love Affair With). 


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Bob Hope had a regular radio series, but never had a TV series unless you count the Bob Hope Chrysler Theater which featured Hope's specials but was mainly an anthology series that ran 4 years 63-67.  I assume Hope's only involvement was doing the intros in the same way Desi presented Desilu Playhouse. "Chrysler" was one of the last of the anthology genre, one that flourished in the 50s.  And Other than Kraft Music Hall, the last to feature the sponsor in the show title (as far as I know).  

I don't know if Hope did a set number of specials for NBC each year.  "Chrysler Theater" was never a ratings powerhouse.  Its only top 30 ranking was its first year.  It was #30.    

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