From the Stars and Stripes archives

Pilot gives Hope tough act to follow

Bob Hope and Jerry Colonna during the 1965 Christmas show aboard the USS Ticonderoga.


By GARY M. COOPER | Stars and Stripes | Published: December 29, 1965

ABOARD THE TICONDEROGA — Bob Hope and his troupe were greeted aboard this carrier by nearly 3,000 cheering sailors and some unscheduled excitement.

Hope and members of the show, including Carroll Baker and Joey Heatherton, were watching night flight operations when an F-8 Crusader crashed into the stern section of the flight deck.

The pilot, Lt. (jg) William S. Brougher, escaped uninjured.

Hope and the two women were on an observation platform, several decks above the flight deck, when the plane hit.

Brougher's jet slammed into the deck, ripping open the rear belly of the plane. The Crusader continued flying forward, inches off the deck, about half-way up the ship. As the plane was falling from the flight deck, Brougher ejected.

He was picked up by a helicopter. His plane exploded when it hit the water.

"He was damn lucky he made it," said one pilot.

Lucky in more ways than one. As the doctor was checking Brougher's bruised shoulder, the only injury he received, Miss Heatherton popped into the doctor's office and planted a kiss on the grinning flier's cheek.

The entertainers arrived aboard the "Tico" shortly after Cardinal Spellman flew from the carrier, where he had celebrated mass.

Cheering sailors "manned the rails," and mobbed Hope and the other stars as they clambered out of the helicopter that brought them aboard.

The group arrived late one afternoon, slept on the ship that night, and gave their show the next afternoon.

The comedian dined with Rear Adm. Ralph W. Cousins, commander of Carrier Div. 9. Each girl in the show was assigned to visit an aircraft squadron, and were given tours of the ship.

Capt. Robert N. Miller, skipper of the Ticonderoga, welcomed Hope aboard and said, "This is the greatest thing that has happened to the Ticonderoga since the last typhoon."

Before the show started, Hope and Capt. William H. House, chief of staff, drove golf balls from the flight deck.

But for some men there was no Hope at all. More than 2,000 sailors turned out to watch Rapid Robert make with the gags and girls, but another thousand had to mind the store.

Jerry Bright, of Placerville, Cat., was one of the losers. He didn't quite see how he could get away from his job of steering the ship.

Some of the men, exhausted from launching strike after strike recently, were almost too tired to watch the show. One rolled over and mumbled to a buddy, "wake me when the broads come on."

Bob Hope chats with a pair of hirsute sailors during his 1965 Christmas show on the USS Ticonderoga.

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