A companion exhibition to So Ready for Laughter: Bob Hope and World War II, The Gift of Laughter blends fact and fiction to illustrate Bob Hope’s wide-ranging career as USO entertainer, television star, and Academy Award host and the many roles comedians fill. Objects on view include an honorary Oscar presented to Hope in 1953 for “his contribution to the laughter of the world,” mementos from his later USO tours like a Viking helmet, and the outfit worn for Bob Hope’s Bicentennial Star Spangled Spectacular.
Also on display is a recreation of a stage featuring costumes by Emmy Award-winning costume designer Donna Zakowska from the popular Amazon Prime Video series The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, including a red, white, and blue dress worn by Miriam "Midge" Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan) during a stand-up routine for the troops in season three. Other Maisel costumes include the hat and dress worn by Moms Mabley (Wanda Sykes) during a scene set at the Apollo as well as Midge’s telethon performance dress from season two. Joining these items are the Glinda the Good Witch costume worn by Ellen DeGeneres when she hosted the 86th Academy Awards ceremony and record covers by New York comedians Lenny Bruce, Phyllis Diller, Moms Mabley, and Joan Rivers. Footage of Bob Hope and clips from The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel provide context and an opportunity for levity.
(Curated by Cristian Petru Panaite, associate curator of exhibitions)
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.