Pennsylvania Record Indicates Bob Hope Had Undisclosed First Marriage
ERIE, Pa. (AP) _ Bob Hope, who once starred in the movie ″How to Commit a Marriage,″ may be more of an expert than his fans know.
Erie County Courthouse documents indicate Hope wed vaudeville partner Grace Louise Troxell on Jan. 25, 1933, 13 months before the date Hope says he married Dolores Reade.
Hope’s publicist acknowledged the entertainer and Troxell obtained a license but says a marriage never took place.
″There’s a mystery about it and it’s going to remain a mystery,″ publicist Ward Grant said Friday. Grant said Hope declined to comment on the matter.
Grant, Hope’s publicist for 21 years, said the entertainer didn’t give an explanation of why the plans to marry Troxell fell through.
Erie County marriage bureau clerk Yvette Johnson said the 1933 documents would not exist if the ceremony had not occurred. A notarized affidavit signed by Eugene P. Alberstadt, a former Erie alderman, is legal proof he presided over the wedding, she said.
″The kicker is (Hope) has always said he’s been married only once,″ Johnson said. ″He said that, we didn’t.″
The documents came to light in a report in an Erie newspaper earlier this week.
The Hopes’ show-business marriage is considered a bedrock of stability in an industry where marital bliss is often measured in months, not years.
Hope recently celebrated his 90th birthday with a three-hour NBC-TV special that included a lengthy tribute to Dolores, the former nightclub singer he says he married Feb. 19, 1934, in Erie, as his vaudeville career was peaking.
No record of Hope’s marriage to Dolores exists in Erie County, meaning, Johnson said, they never married there. Grant acknowledges the entertainer has no documentation proving the marriage to Dolores took place as he says it did.
The wedding is an Erie legend. Visitors ask to see the Hope marriage certificate so frequently that Johnson keeps copies of it in her desk drawer. Because Hope used his legal name, Leslie T. Hope, on the document rather than his more-common stage name, few question the name of Hope’s spouse.
″They just figure she (Dolores) was using a stage name,″ Johnson said. ″They don’t realize this wasn’t Dolores.″ In fact, someone at some point penciled in the names ″Bob″ and ″Dolores″ on the document.
The 8-by-3 1/4 -inch certificate, much-handled but well-preserved, lists Hope’s age as 29, and his occupation as salesman. Troxell described herself as a 21-year-old secretary from Chicago. The license includes information about each of their parents and is signed by Erie County Clerk of Orphans Court William M. Dill.
Hope’s biographies frequently mention Louise Troxell, saying she became Hope’s lover as they played clubs in Texas and the Midwest in 1929.
After graduating to Broadway, the couple split up, according to the biographies, and Hope soon met Dolores after seeing her sing at New York’s Vogue Club.
Hope does not know Troxell’s whereabouts today, Grant said.
″I assumed she is (dead), but I haven’t heard from her in some time,″ Grant said. ″Sometimes, names will come up in connection with Christmas card lists, but I haven’t heard her name in some time.″
In a 1957 Associated Press interview, Hope was asked what defeats most people in life.
’Overeating,″ said Hope, ″and marrying the wrong girl.″