The famous actor and comedian Bob Hope raised money for St. Louis Children’s Hospital throughout his career. On numerous occasions throughout the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, he visited with patients, served as the host at Children’s Hospital fundraisers, and organized several celebrity golf tournaments in St. Louis — with all benefits going to the hospital.
One of the most interesting fundraising initiatives he sponsored for Children’s Hospital was a cookbook. This undertaking required a committee of 19 members of the Auxiliary of St. Louis Children’s Hospital to collect hundreds of recipes from the citizens of St. Louis.
Over 400 recipes were prepared, taste-tested, and judged by the Auxiliary’s Cookbook Committee. All of those deemed worthy of inclusion in the cookbook (over 200 altogether) were organized within the following categories: Appetizers, Salads, Vegetables, Buffet Dishes, Entrees, Breads, Desserts, and “Etcetera”. Along with the recipes are sprinkled in a few colorful cooking suggestions such as:
- “Choose your vegetables to compliment your entrée as carefully as you choose your jewels to compliment your dress.”
- “Whether you choose meat, fish, or fowl, make it dramatic. The dish itself, the manner of its presentation, the garnishing, all lend themselves to the kind of showmanship that can excite your guests.”
- “Remember that food is like a beautiful woman. The more enticing it looks, the more inclined one is to approach it with interest.”
There were two printings of Bob Hope’s cookbook, and both of them were published with a very interesting title — Confessions of 211 St. Louis Housewives and Bob Hope: Or, What’s Going on in Their Kitchens! As explained in the introduction by the Auxiliary’s Cookbook Committee, “If our book has an unusual title, let it be noted that Bob Hope is an unusual man.”
The cookbook was immensely popular, and reasonably priced at $5.50 (plus $0.50 for postage). The Auxiliary’s Cookbook Committee described it as “suitable for teens, new brides, the career woman, and the gourmet chef.” The original 1967 printing of the cookbook sold out in mere weeks. The 1971 version of the cookbook included several stylistic revisions to the original, but it largely included the same content with only minor changes. Despite printing 10,000 copies for the 1971 cookbook fundraiser, it sold out too.
Only a small sampling of these recipes are featured in this blog post. Among them is Bob Hope’s own contribution to the cookbook (a dessert recipe). To see all the recipes, schedule an appointment at the Becker Archives to view an original copy of the cookbook that is available in our St. Louis Children’s Hospital collection.