Friday, May 29, 2015

THE FIRST MRS. BOB HOPE

Comedian Bob Hope and his wife Dolores had one of the longest marriages in Hollywood history. They were married for 69 years until Bob's death in 2003. While Hope entertained the troops during World War II and made countless movies and radio appearances, Dolores stayed at home and raised their four adopted children. During Hope's popularity the media as well as Dolores herself avoided any gossip or rumors about the entertainer's infidelity. However, now over ten years after he died, many of the rumors of Bob Hope have become fact. One rumor that has been proven was that Bob Hope had a first wife whom he was married to briefly before Dolores!

Bob and Dolores always claimed that they married in February 1934 in Erie, Pennsylvania. But at that time he was secretly married to his Vaudeville partner  Grace Louise Troxell, after three years together on and off. One of Hope's biographers found divorce papers for Bob and Louise dated November 1934, so either Bob Hope was a bigamist or he lied about marrying Dolores in February that year.

He actually married Louise in January 1933 in Erie when they were travelling on the Vaudeville circuit. When he claimed he had married Dolores in Erie he was actually miles away in New York, on Broadway. More intriguing, there is no record anywhere of his marriage to Dolores, if it happened. And there are no wedding photos, either. But he never forgot Grace and quietly sent her money in her later years.

Who was Grace Louise Troxell is what I wanted to investigate. Her whereabouts were harder than I thought to solved. There is not much about Grace after her short marriage to Bob "two wives" Hope. What I found out is Grace Louise Troxell was born on October 25, 1912 in Cincinnati, Ohio to a hardware salesman William Asa Troxell Jr. (1881-1964) and housewife Katherine S. Hummeldorf (1888-1939). Grace was the 4th of 8 children and her family was pretty poor, but she was a pretty good dancer and a beauty by Ohio standards so she met up with Bob Hope and made her way to vaudville by the late 1920s.

After the whirlwind quickie marriage and divorce to Bob Hope, Grace tried to make it as a solo act in New York City in 1935. After a few months though, Grace moved back to Ohio where she met and married a car salemen by the name of Herbert Koppmeier (1901-1974). He was eleven years older than Grace, but he gave her stability that she wanted. They were married on May 4, 1940. The marriage was reportedly a happy one and the couple had a daughter. However, when Herbert got ill finances got tight for Grace. Reportedly Bob sent her money before and after Herbert died in 1974. On August 30, 1992, Grace died of heart failure in a nursing home at the age of 79 and Bob Hope while not attending her funeral, did pay for all of the funeral expenses. Grace Louise Troxell did not have a lot in her failed show business life, but until her death she always had hope... 



2 comments:

  1. Typo - Bob died in 2003, not 2013.

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