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Nuclear Museum to Unveil Special Exhibit, So Ready for Laughter: The Legacy of Bob Hope

A special exhibit from The National WWII Museum tells the story of Hope’s life and unique contributions to World War II

On February 17, 2023, the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History will open a temporary exhibit — So Ready for Laughter: The Legacy of Bob Hope. Curated by The National WWII Museum in New Orleans and supported by national tour exhibit sponsor Bob & Dolores Hope Foundation, So Ready for Laughter tells the story of the entertainer’s unique place in WWII history and beyond. Using multimedia elements and captivating storytelling — including artifacts, films, rare photographs, and an interactive display — the exhibit highlights how Hope helped lift the human spirit during one of the darkest times in American history.

“From the first time my father, Bob Hope, entertained the troops at March Field in 1941, he knew he had discovered a most meaningful audience,” said Linda Hope, Bob Hope’s daughter and Chair/CEO of Bob & Dolores Hope Foundation. “He truly appreciated the men and women who were sacrificing to defend America on the Home Front and abroad. It was his honor, along with the entertainers with whom he collaborated, to connect these individuals with a touch of home and let them laugh — even if only for a brief moment.”

Bob Hope came to the United States as an immigrant with his family in the early 1920s, initially working as a newsboy, butcher’s assistant, shoe salesman, and amateur boxer. Hope went on to eventually shape his art on the vaudeville stage, and by the start of World War II, he was just emerging as one of America’s most popular radio and film stars. When the nation went to war in 1941, Hollywood recognized the need for contributions and responded by entertaining troops, raising funds, and boosting morale. Hope’s work quickly gained new meaning when he took his wartime programs on the road to military camps and bases across the country, inspiring other entertainers to join him.

Exploring Hope’s major tours and travels during World War II, So Ready for Laughter features nearly 50 artifacts and also includes an original 11-minute documentary produced by award-winning filmmaker John Scheinfeld. Highlights include rare and unpublished photographs of Hope; wartime correspondence between Hope and servicemembers; WWII-era relics engraved to Hope; videos of his traveling, wartime troupe, and Hollywood Victory Caravan programs and scrapbooks.

“It is a great honor to welcome the story of this comedic and inspiring American icon into the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History,” said Jennifer Hayden, Nuclear Museum Executive Director. “To highlight the legend who brought such happiness to those serving on the front lines during World War II will be a wonderful reminder to all who visit the museum that laughter truly is the best medicine.”

So Ready for Laughter: The Legacy of Bob Hope is a temporary exhibit that is included with the price of admission to the museum. This exhibition is brought to the Nuclear Museum through the sponsorship of the FHL Foundation. So Ready for Laughter: The Legacy of Bob Hope will be on display at the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History from February 17 through April 30, 2023. For more information, please visit nuclearmuseum.org.