In the new Bob Hope biography by Richard Zoglin, titled “Hope: Entertainer of the Century” and out Nov. 4, the author recounts a scary phone call the late and legendary comic supposedly received after doing a joke about Al Capone during one of his Chicago theater dates in 1929.
“As he moved from city to city, Hope would throw in jokes tailored to the local crowd,” Zoglin writes. In Chicago, he and [his vaudeville partner, Grace Louise Troxell] repurposed an old ganster joke for one of the city’s more infamous residents.”
Bob: I come from a very brave family. My brother slapped Al Capone in the face. Louise: I’d like to shake his hand. Bob: We’re not going to dig him up just for that.
“After the show,” Zoglin adds, “Hope recounted getting a call in his hotel room from a gruff-voiced thug, who asked if he was the comic doing the Al Capone joke. When Hope said he was, the fellow warned, ‘Do us a favor, take it out.’ Hope obliged — and lived to tell the tale, endlessly.”