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Bob Hope Dead at 100

Aired July 28, 2003 - 09:29   ET


BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Jack mentioned the love affair he had with golf a short time ago. We have a fairly well-known golfer on the telephone right now with us. From Latrobe, Pennsylvania, Arnold Palmer is now with us.
Arnie, good morning to you.

Your thoughts on the passing of your friend.


HEMMER: Good morning to you, and your thoughts right now on the passing of your friend Bob Hope.

PALMER: Well, I, like you, feel it's a very sad moment, but it's also something that brings back all the things that Bob Hope stood for, and I'm sure that if he were listening, he'd want everybody to be laughing.

HEMMER: He loved being Bob Hope, did he not?

PALMER: Sure. Oh, he was a guy that enjoyed everything he did. And I spent a great deal of time with him over the years, played a lot of golf with him, and I think that his life meant laughter and making fun.

HEMMER: Tell us a golf story. I think going back from the 1950s, you guys spent a lot of time on the course. What do you remember that sticks out in your mind this morning?

PALMER: Oh, my. I think about playing golf with him in the Phoenix Open, in the Pro-Am one year, when it started snowing actually during the round. And I was ready to chuck it and go in. And he wouldn't let me. He said, oh, no, you've got to play this round, and we finished the round. He shot -- actually, the back nine holes, he shot 35. And I think I have never seen him happier than he was when he did that that day.

HEMMER: Wow. No snow story, huh?

PALMER: But he did love golf, and he loved people, and I suppose most of all he loved what he was doing.


JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: This is Jack Cafferty. A question about the game of golf and the role that Bob Hope had, along with yourself, in building the popularity of the sport. The Bob Hope Desert Classic was one of the favorites of the tour players, and more than that, it was a huge favorite of the public's. It got, because of his association with it, a tremendous amount of coverage and play in the media. It was a 90-hole tournament, as opposed to a 72-hole tournament.

And along with Arnold Palmer, Bob Hope, I think, had a not insignificant role in building the PGA Tour into the popular form of national entertainment its become today, did he not?

PALMER: Well, we, he did. And of course, the first year that the Desert Classic, which was the first name put on, and that was 1960, and I won the tournament, and, of course, the crowds were rather sparse. But in '61, they made the Bob Hope Desert Classic, and from there on, it just increased in popularity and, of course, became one of the real successful events on the PGA Tour.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Mr. Palmer, we should mention you won five of those Bob Hope Classics, played in 42 of them. Did you ever talk to him -- and I know you were personal friends in addition to being golfing partners and buddies. Did he ever talk to you about when he would perform for the USO, the troops with the USO? It seems he obviously made the troops so happy, but did it bring him tremendous joy as well to be a part of that?

PALMER: I think it was probably one of the greatest things that he felt he could do for our people overseas and he thoroughly enjoyed it. There were a lot of things that were sheer enjoyment for him that I won't tell you about, because of some of the pretty girls that he had...

CAFFERTY: Now, now.

O'BRIEN: Family show, Mr. Palmer.

PALMER: But he did really enjoy the work, and he enjoyed the laughter that he got by taking those trips overseas and he did talk about it quite a lot. It was one of the fun things in his life, and I think he'd do it -- if he were still alive, he'd still be doing it.

HEMMER: He was such a master of the one-liner and the quip. Was that what it was like to play with him out on the golf course? Were you just cracking up the entire time?

PALMER: Well, not all the time. There were moments that Bob got pretty serious, but he did enjoy those one-liners, and we had a lot of laughs over the years playing golf and on the show. He was -- he was just a guy that liked to laugh and make people laugh.

CAFFERTY: Did he ever come in search of tips on the golf course? did he ever ask you for a little putting tip here or there, or how do you hit out of the bunker?

PALMER: Well, yes, he had an old friend who was his kind of gave him a lot of instruction in the early days, and that was a guy by the name of Tony Bennett. HEMMER: Sure, I remember that name.

PALMER: Sure. Well, of course, I knew Tony pretty well, and we used to discuss Bob's game. And Tony told me one time, he says, you know, I think if he could shoot par, it would be the greatest thing in his life, and he tried.

HEMMER: You said he shot 35 in the snow on that one day he was out on the course with you. He had a pretty fluid golf swing. I mean, it wasn't Sam Snead-esque, but it was a lot more relaxed than some of the celebrities. I'm thinking of the Crosby Clam Bake up at Pebble Beach, you see some of these guys and it's painful to watch. He had a pretty good golf swing, didn't he?

PALMER: He did, and hit the ball pretty well, even up until -- well I can remember just a couple years ago, that he was still swinging the club and hitting the ball pretty women, and what he had was, he had a fairly long extension. He didn't have the speed of Tiger Woods coming through the ball, but he made good contact, and he hit the ball very well up until he couldn't play anymore.

HEMMER: Why do you believe it is, Arnie, that on the grand stage today, you can rack your brain and think about this for a second, why no one seems to even compare to what Bob Hope did as an entertainer? Do you put anyone in his category working today?

PALMER: Well, there's a lot of my friends that are great entertainer, but I think that Bob Hope dedicated himself so much to entertaining and to being a part of the world of entertainment that it would be difficult for anyone to even come close to him. His life was dedicated to doing what he did, and that was making people laugh. He just thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a life work. It was an ambition. I guess you could just say it was just his life. And right up until the end, he never stopped entertaining.

HEMMER: Thanks for sharing your memories today. Arnold Palmer, by telephone in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, back in his hometown. Probably playing at his home course today, too.

Thanks, Arnold.


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