"In the 70s and 80s, Hollywood Squares often taped next to The Bob Hope Show studio. Judging from the laughter we often heard in the hallway, I always suspected Hope's writers were having a great time over there and now I know why. The Laugh Makers is a fascinating, heartwarming and revealing book on the day-to-day life of comedy writers working for a legend. It also revives long-ago memories of an era and that was so much fun and that I'm sure we'll never see again." - Peter Marshall (Host of The Hollywood Squares)
"The author and I have lots in common -- we're both San Franciscans, our comedy careers were launched by a KSFO disc jockey named Don Sherwood, and we're fellow college alumns. Now that I've laughed my way through his backstage stories and priceless recollections of a long and exciting tenure on the road with Bob Hope, I can finally say definitively and without fear of contradiction that Bob Mills is the second-funniest graduate of S.F. State." - Ronnie Schell (Good Morning, World, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.)
"When I was first introduced to the author, I said "How do you do?" and he replied, "I make a nice living." Though an incurable smart ass, Bob Mills is one of the warmest, most talented members of our comedy fraternity -- attributes clearly evident on every page of his landmark homage to Bob Hope and his gag writers. So buy his book... please. He's gotten used to that nice living."" - Jack Reilly (Mr. Carlin on The Bob Newhart Show, Stu Pickles on The Rugrats)
"It's hard to praise the work of a longtime friend without sounding like you're angling for a free lunch. But Mills has really created something unique here -- an accurate, compellingly readable, hilarious and heartwarming inside view of one of America's most popular variety shows, its legendary host, and its guest stars. And I say that not because I got a free advance copy. Actually, it wasn't from the author -- a hotel where I was staying ran out of Gideon Bibles." - Chuck McCann (The Projectionist, Boston Legal)
"In The Laugh Makers, Bob Mills takes us on an exciting backstage journey from London to Stockholm... Bora Bora to Beijing, covering thousands of miles and nearly as many laughs. Today, Mills has more milage on him than Bob Hope's luggage. His book is a real gem that's got sex, violence, intrigue -- and the second page is good, too. Actually, that's a joke Mills wrote for Hope, but I couldn't resist. I have to confess, I read the book in one sitting -- stuck in traffic on the 405." - Pat Harrington (The Steve Allen Show, One Day at a Time)
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Laugh Makers is a 2009 published story behind the scenes of the Bob Hope Shows. As a gag writer and sketch creator, Robert Mills writes with a quick wit and a long memory. This memory is needed because Hope's career spanned some 60 years. He was born into the Vaudeville era and loved being a part of it. Lessons learned never left; neither did the jokes. Those of us old enough to remember recognize some of the same expressions of Jack Benny, one of his many mentors. Eddie Cantor was another. Of the people Bob admired most, Sammy Davis Jr. and Glen Campbell rank high. Both were versatile entertainers and Glen worked wonders with a guitar. Robert Mills tells tales behind the tales detailing what happened and what didn't happen on various tours. As expected, things did not always go as planned. Jokes were not always well received. Mills was responsible for the "read my lips" quote used by the elder Bush, which was used on him repeatedly. He tells us that George C. Scott was a polar opposite of the real General George Patton he portrayed. Bob loved having Scott on his show because he was so easy to work with. Most gags and sketches went well, however. While a quick wit was needed and a knowledge of current events, he was able to use the same gags over and over with different places and times. Mills notes that in the 1980's sexist jokes were de rigueur and used all the time. As times changed, Bob didn't always make the changes. If it got a laugh, it was in, the censors be damned. The book is most interesting because of behind scene stories of which this author was a part. Mills notes that Hope was totally faithful to his employees and never fired anyone. This made for loyal staff and programs that went on for years and years, far longer than for most entertainers. Inevitably, he did get stale as tastes changed and society became more politically correct. Hope also became old himself providing a sad footnote to a long career. He stayed performing way longer than he should have per Mills. Apparently, studio executives were afraid to pull his programs because of his powerful contractual hold on them. Hope lost both hearing and vision and eventually could not read cue cards, no matter how big they were. Still, he lived to age 100 and left a legacy few will ever match.
Once I got well into reading this book, I had the feeling of déjà vu. It seemed as if Bob Hope himself was writing it. That's a very understandable feeling since the author was one of Hope's cherished gag writers, originator of many of the gems Hope delivered in such a wonderful, unforgettable way. Hope took some of his writers along on his overseas tours, and what stories they could tell. I'm so glad that Bob Mills is now telling them in his own delightful way. He describes a few of those overseas trips in much detail, so it feels as if we readers are traveling with them. Mills' narrative had me laughing out loud many times throughout the book, and I enjoyed every page. We learn quite a lot about Bob Hope - his dedication to his craft, his loyalty to his employees, his solid marriage (so unusual for a superstar), and many other aspects of his life, up to and including his sad passing. As icing on the cake, Mills ends the book with a where-are-they-now section about the many people who contributed to Bob Hope's success. One practical advantage this book has is the fact that it's made up of short sections, so it would be great to have with you in airports or doctors' waiting rooms. I love this book and enthusiastically recommend it to you.