GOOD MORNING: “I’m available,” sang Bob Hope, who will be 92 on May 29. “If you’re handing out degrees and have an extra cap and gown, I’m available. If you’re having a bar mitzvah and the rabbi’s out of town, I’m available.” The occasion was Saturday night’s SHARE Boomtown party, their 42nd and celebrating the 50th anniversary of V-E Day. And who better to receive the group’s Shining Spirit Award than Bob Hope and wife, Dolores. Appropriately, “I’m Available” was written years ago for Hope by his longtime friends at Paramount, Ray Evans and Jay Livingston — three-time Oscar winners who also had written the award-winning “Buttons and Down” and “Silver Bells” for Hope. And the songsmiths also have regularly written special material for the SHARE shows, as they did again for this year’s great jitterbug opening number in which the ladies danced as though they were teens of the ’40s. And the girls finale’d with a precision military number a la Rockettes to even more cheers. All their numbers were again choreo’d by SHARE regular Miriam Nelson Meyers … It was a night full of nostalgia and emotion with standing ovations for the Hopesand Frances Langford, who made the presentation to Bob and Dolores. A.C. Lyles had contacted Frances (Mrs. Harold Stuart) in Florida and she graciously flew here — and received her deserved tribute as well for her wartime performances around the world with Hope … Bob’s travels will form even more videos as “The Best of …” And he’ll probably do a couple of NBC specials next season, daughter Linda told me. She, son Andrew Lande, Mary Jane & Charles Wick, Patti Thomas, Johnny Grant and we sat with Hopes and Stuarts at the front table applauding the show.
MORE THAN $1.5 MILLION was raised by the evening, bringing a total of $26 million in the 42 years, announced outgoing SHARE president Abbe Lane (Mrs. Perry Leff). She passes on the gavel to incoming president Corinna (Mrs. Freddie) Fields. A portion of Saturday night’s funds will go to children and families of the Oklahoma City bombing tragedy. Rosemarie (Mrs. Bob) Stack was announced as the SHARE “Member of the Year.” Bob, Tony Curtis, Ed McMahon and Tom Bosley took the stage to reminisce about their WWII experiences between the show’s performers, who included comic juggler Ron Pearson. The inimitable Ink Spots, terrif impersonator Gordy Brown (sensaysh Michael Jackson carbon), the marvelous Clint Holmes and Kenny Rogers singing songs of the ’40s. He reminded, “The difference between today’s songs and the songs of the ’40s is now they are passion-driven; then, they were romance-driven.” Rogers and the entire show were backed by a big band baton’d by Larry Blank. The production was directed by and exec produced by Gary Smith, who next heads to the Tonys. Whatta coup (again) for SHARE … To make the evening even fuller for Hope, he won a raffle prize: opening night ducats to the opera “Porgy and Bess” and dinner at Russell’s! This year’s Boomtown was held at CBS TV City, where a giant stage was converted into a theater for the show, chaired by Patricia (Mrs. Tom) Bosley; party chaired by Sandra Siegel; auction chaired by Jan (Mrs. Tom) Sarnoff and the auction, led by Johnny Grant, who reminded that he sold items for WWII bond drives.
“DORIS DUKE, THE FAMILY SECRETS,” will be miniseries’d by producer Doris Keating, who mini’d the Errol Flynn bio “My Wicked, Wicked Ways.””Duke” is Jason Thomas’ upcoming book, the first of two he’s writing about the heiress. Keating met with Thomas and with Pony Duke, Doris’ godson and cousin, to ink the miniseries pact. Thomas says publisher HarperCollins is rushing out the first book, which has only three chapters dealing with her death. Author Thomas is a longtime friend of Pony Duke. He attended the private funeral services of Pony’s father, Angier Biddle Duke, last Thursday at the Duke mausoleum in Durham, N.C. The author, who knew Doris, is writing the sequel tome as it’s unfolding but says he predicted the current legal entanglements, allegations, accusations, a year ago. Meanwhile, the galleys of the first book are going to “a major star,” Keating claims … Eddie Murphy as Richard Simmons? Makeup artist Rick Baker spent seven hours transforming Eddie into the flamboyant, white exercise coach called Lance Perkins in “The Nutty Professor,” which went before the cameras Wednesday. Baker’s magic also transforms Murphy into a 350-pounder for the movie , you recall. Sid Sheinberg and Hal Lieberman were on Stage 33 for Murphy’s first day of transformations. Next door on Stage 34, Grazer’s (Imagine’s) “Sgt. Bilko” starring Steve Martin is shooting … Universal also will be the site this summer for Adam Sandler starring in “Happy Gilmore,” while “Saturday Night Live” co-stars Chris Farley and David Spade will be at Paramount co-starring in Lorne Michaels’ “Black Sheep” scripted by Fred Wolf. This Saturday, “SNL” winds its season, returning Sept. 30.