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From the S&S archives: 'Last' Hope show plays to 22,000 GIs

By LARRY MCQUILLAN | STARS AND STRIPES STAFF WRITER Published: December 27, 1970

LONG BINH — Bob Hope wound up what might be his last Vietnam Christmas tour Friday with an appearance before an overflow crowd of more than 22,000 GIs who packed the Curry Amphitheater at this massive installation 15 miles north of Saigon.

At an informal press conference following his two-and-one-half hour show here, Hope said he was uncertain about returning to Vietnam next year. The U.S. commitment would be the deciding factor, Hope said, and added, "I certainly hope we won't have to come back."

Hope told the sun-drenched soldiers "with all the troop withdrawals, I'm surprised to see you here. It's nice of you guys to stick around just for me."

Talking about a visit to Saigon, he said "I just put my money in my mouth, and someone stole my bridgework."

As was the case in his shows at Camp Eagle and Da Nang, Lola Falana stole the hearts of the GIs with her singing and dancing. The comely starlet left for an engagement in Las Vegas shortly after the show.

The most common complaint among the soldiers was directed at the television cameras set up directly in front of the stage. NBC filmed segments of the show for later broadcast in the U.S. while AFVN cameramen recorded the performance for showing Saturday.

"I got here early but ended up watching the backs of cameramen. It sounded pretty good though," one GI said. Some of the soldiers reportedly began filing into the stands 18 hours before the show started.

After the show Hope and his troupe headed for Korea. The show includes the Golddiggers, Cincinnati catcher Johnny Bench and the Les Brown orchestra. After Korea the troupe will go to Alaska.