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Song of the Day for Feb. 18: "Thanks for the Memories" with Bob Hope

Shirley Ross and Bob Hope in 1928's Big Broadcast
Shirley Ross and Bob Hope in 1938's Big Broadcast

Part history, part trivia, part music, this is Sheldon Zoldan's Song of the Day for Friday, Feb. 18, “Thanks for the Memories” by Bob Hope.

“The Big Broadcast of 1938” would be forgotten like the “Big Broadcast of 1932,” “The Big Broadcast of 1936” and “The Big Broadcast of 1937,” except for one thing, the movie spawned one of the most recognizable songs of the 20th century, “Thanks for the Memories.”

“The Big Broadcast of 1938” debuted in New York City on February 18, 1938 starring W.C. Fields, Bob Hope, Dorothy Lamour, Martha Raye and Shirley Ross. Hope was acting in his first feature film. He and Ross sang “Thanks for the Memories” in the movie. It became Hope’s theme song for the next 65 years.

The song comes near the end of the movie. Hope and Ross play a divorced couple. They are on the same ship crossing the Atlantic. They sing about their good and bad times.

The song’s lyrics were risqué for the times. Hope The controversy comes in the fifth verse. Hope recalls the couple’s romantic weekend in Niagara. The original lyrics said “That weekend at Niagara when we never saw the falls.” The film’s producers thought that line might corrupt America. The compromise had Hope singing “That weekend at Niagara when we hardly saw the falls.” The one word change was good enough.

The song won an Oscar for Best Original Song. It was ranked 64th by the American Film Institute for the top 100 movie songs in the last 100 years. Paramount Pictures took advantage of the song’s popularity and paired Hope and Ross in the movie “Thanks for the Memory,” also in 1938. One thing was missing, the song “Thanks for the Memories.”