BW - EP127—006: May 1954—Grace Kelly Guests On Bob Hope

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Bob Hope joined NBC’s red network in December of 1937. For the next ten years he starred on The Pepsodent Program, racking up the top-rated show five consecutive seasons between the fall of 1942 and the spring of 1947. Then, as radio’s ratings were hitting an all-time high, Hope opened the fall of 1947 to harsh reviews. Both the critics and public were bored with his formula. Ratings dropped and Hope responded with a shakeup the following year. Gone were Vera Vague and Jerry Colonna: the show became more of a situation comedy. It was the radio itself that had begun to fade. Hope spent two seasons being sponsored by Swan Soap, and then by Chesterfield, Jell-O, and American Dairy. His top show fell to fifth overall, then seventh, then tenth, thirty-third, and finally to forty-seventh in 1953. In 1954 his Friday at 8:30 rating was under 3.3. On May 14th his guest was the twenty-four year-old actress Grace Kelly. She’d won the Academy Award for best actress in Country Girl two months prior. Her fourth starring role, Dial M For Murder was about to premiere. Grace Kelly would appear in seven more films over the next two years. She retired after her marriage to Prince Rainier III of Monaco. Her last film was High Society, opposite Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra. By 1954 Hope was appearing on TV. He did commentary for NBC’s coverage of the 1952 political conventions, and although he never had a regular TV series, he starred in two-hundred seventy two TV specials between 1950 and 1996. In later years he became the network’s senior statesman and his theme song, “Thanks for the Memory,” became synonymous with his comedy.

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