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Bob Hope Writer Checks Out Chronicle

June 21, 2017
Wetzel Chronicle

Wetzel Chronicle Sports Writer Bruce Crawford was in for a pleasant surprise recently when he received an e-mail from Martha Bolton, former comedy writer for Bob Hope.

Bolton had discoverd Crawford's "From My View For June 14" column on the Internet. Crawford had started his column by discussing National Donut Day. He remarked on the many "National" days and suggested a "National Bob Hope Day." Crawford said he missed Hope, who was one of Crawford's favorite comedians.

Crawford said that besides humor, Hope gave many of our country's servicemen and women hope, through visits around the world.

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Martha Bolton

"As a former writer for Bob Hope, I receive Google Alerts with links to articles written about him," Bolton said on her discovery of Crawford's column.

"When I received an alert about Bruce Crawford's column in the Wetzel Chronicle, the first few sentences intrigued me: 'Let's have a National Bob Hope Day. I miss Mr. Hope a lot. He, along with Jerry Lewis, were two of my favorite comedians.'"

"I couldn't have agreed more," Bolton said.

Fact Box


Martha Bolton, former staff writer for Bob Hope

Have you ever wondered what happened to the days when comedy was just funny? It wasn't mean-spirited, even when it was a roast. The recipient of the humor was held in high regard and treated with respect through all of the teasing, and a brief, genuine tribute usually ended the evening's entertainment. The Dean Martin roasts, the Friars Club roasts, even Don Rickles would do good-natured ribbing, with respect always being at the root of it. And it was funny. So much so that even the subject of the jokes couldn't help laughing along with everyone else.

Remember the days when comedy didn't have an agenda? Most political satirists kept it relatively even between the political parties. Comedians like Bob Hope, Johnny Carson, Mark Russell, and going all the way back to Will Rogers and Mark Twain, their personal opinions weren't the goal of the humor. The goal was simply to make their audience laugh. Republicans, Democrats, Independents-it didn't matter. The comic an equal opportunity jokester. They knew all three were likely in their audience, and they joked about them all.

Remember the days when marriage humor was covered by the likes of Lucille Ball, Jackie Gleason, George Burns and Gracie Allen, and many talented others. No matter what they said, you knew love and respect for each other was at the core of their humor.

For family life humor, we had Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore, Danny Thomas, Ozzie and Harriet, The Brady Bunch, or we could just "Leave it to Beaver." Later, there was Sanford and Son, Everybody Loves Raymond, Family Matters, and others. Even The Addams Family and the Munsters gave families plenty to laugh about.

For the foibles of life we had Bob Newhart, Rodney Dangerfield, Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, and many, many others. For pure zaniness, there was Jerry Lewis, Phyllis Diller, Jonathan Winters, and Robin Williams. Domestic complaints? Joan Rivers. Senior life and friendship? The Golden Girls. Small town? Andy Griffith and Don Knotts.

Comics didn't even need words to make us laugh. Talents such as Red Skelton or Harpo Marx proved that. Or they delivered their comedy through other means, like ventriloquist Edgar Bergen and his sidekick Charlie McCarthy.

There are far too many talented comics of yesteryear to list them all here, but they all had one thing in common. Their comedy was the kind that made you feel good after watching them. You thought about your own problems a little less. You laughed along with people of opposing political beliefs and different life experiences, and it didn't matter. Barriers were dropped, not erected.

I miss those comedians and television shows.

Some of today's comics do understand and try to replicate this brand of comedy, humor without agenda or malice. They know that laughter is a powerful tool and they use it conscientiously. They realize we all want to laugh. We all need to laugh. Especially these days. They realize a comic's job isn't to create more pain for their audience or even the subject of their humor. Humor's most noble and greatest mission is simply this: to make us all laugh. Preferably together.

"Growing up I, too, loved watching Jerry Lewis and Bob Hope movies, as well as Bob's television specials. I also remember seeing Jerry Lewis once in a live performance. We had so much in common, I figured I should contact Bruce and let him know that I agreed about his Bob Hope Day idea (although on Bob's 100th birthday 35 states did declare that special day Bob Hope Day)."

"I also agreed with Bruce on the importance of laughter, sending along a blog that I had recently written on how comedy has unfortunately changed over the years, titled 'What's Funny?'"



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