So Ready for Laughter: Bob Hope and World War II
The New-York Historical Society celebrates the golden age of comedy with So Ready for Laughter: Bob Hope and World War II. Organized by The National WWII Museum in New Orleans and supported by the Bob & Dolores Hope Foundation, the special exhibition highlights the legendary performer and his unique role during World War II entertaining troops overseas. Coinciding with the 80th anniversary of the founding of the United Service Organizations (USO), the exhibition features artifacts, films, and rare photographs to illustrate how Hope helped lift spirits both abroad and on the home front with his USO and radio shows during a dark time in American history.
So Ready for Laughter explores Hope’s major USO tours and travels during World War II through some 50 artifacts, including rare and unpublished photographs of Hope; a World War II-era aircraft fragment, mess kit, and other relics engraved to Hope; videos of his traveling, wartime troupe; and Hollywood Victory Caravan programs and scrapbooks. Hope received countless letters from service members and families, and on display are samples of this wartime correspondence, including a coconut stamped with 17 cents of postage and mailed to Hope.
A companion exhibition, The Gift of Laughter, delves into Hope’s varied career after World War II as a USO entertainer, television star, and Academy Award host demonstrating the many hats worn by comedians. His legacy will be brought to life with many items, including costumes from the Emmy Award-winning series The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, as well as objects related to other comedians—real and imagined—influenced by Hope.
So Ready for Laughter: Bob Hope and World War II is organized by the National WWII Museum, New Orleans, and made possible by the support of the Bob & Dolores Hope Foundation.
Exhibitions at New-York Historical are made possible by Dr. Agnes Hsu-Tang and Oscar Tang, the Saunders Trust for American History, the Evelyn & Seymour Neuman Fund, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. WNET is the media sponsor.