A museum to house comedian Bob Hope's 38-year accumulation of USO-show memorabilia-including his favorite golf club and a collection of gag hats-will be proposed Thursday as part of the plan to revitalize Pennsylvania Avenue.
A spokesman for Hope said the memorabilia are currently housed in a Hollywood warehouse and include "every weird trophy the men (soldiers) have made up for him . . . a propeller given to him by a World War II fighter squadron . . . spears and blow guns from when he toured Africa . . . (and) Zippo lighters (bearing inscriptions) from everywhere."
"Bob Hope has been a USO troupe for many years and has been giving us . . . warehouses full of his memorabilia," said Michael Menster, national director for USO, which will present the museum proposal to the board of the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corp. (PADC).
PADC is the government-owned agency charged by Congress with planning and restoring the ceremonial route between the White House and the Capitol.
The museum would be the centerpiece of a new USO national headquarters and has received the endorsement of the PADC staff, according to W. Anderson Barnes, PADC's executive director.
Ever since Hope's gala 75th birthday celebration at the Kennedy Center last spring, USO officials say they have been searching for a home for Hope's "8 million miles worth of booty" collected during 25 overseas tours since 1941.
Hope's troop entertainment shows - usually packed with starlets, chorus lines and the comedian's one-liners-became a wartime tradition with his first overseas trip to England, Africa and Sicily in 1943.
Menster said the large number of "military tourists" who come to Washington make it the ideal place for the Hope collection. He said USO officials envision that veterans of World War II, the Korean and Vietnam wars would be able to come to the museum to view films of Bob Hope shows they attended on the battlefield. The exhibit might be expanded to include 200-year history of "civilian support for the military," Menster said.
Exactly where on Pennsylvania Avenue the proposed USO headquarters and museum would be built is not certain, but Menster said "our executive committee has approved our attempting to secure the land." He said the organization has also embarked on a $10 million fund raising drive, part of which will help finance the building, which would also include a training center for USO's worldwide operations.
Barnes said the PADC board will consider the proposal for the first time at Thursday's meeting with a staff recommendation that "the proposal makes sense" and is "appealing" because it would "contribute to life, vitality and activity along the avenue."
Barnes said that PADC's mandate to redevelop Pennsylvania Avenue in the best interest of "the widest possible cross section" of American life is consistent with the USO proposal because "men and women in uniform are certainly part of that."
Late yesterday, Hope, whose theme song is, "Thanks for the Memories," was playing golf in Columbus, Ohio, and could not be reached for comment, Ward Grant, a spokesman for Hope said.
Grant said that during Hope's overseas tours, star struck soldiers incessantly fashioned trophies, hats, and jackets with military insignia and presented them to the comedian.
"One time on a plane, a man came up and put something in his (Hope's) hand and said, "I want to give this to you," said Grant. When the man disappeared, Hope opened his hand and found a diamond ring. "He doesn't know who the man was," added Grant. CAPTION: Picture, Comedian Bob Hope, noted for entertaining troops, with memorabilia in 1970 A P photograph.