Image of beloved entertainer unveiled at Burbank airport as family and admirers look on.
By Mary O’KEEFE
On Tuesday a sculpture honoring entertainer Bob Hope was unveiled at the Burbank airport that bears the actor’s name.
The sculptor Don Wiegand was on hand for the unveiling.
The art that highlights one of the most famous profiles in history stands at seven-and-a-half feet tall and weighs in at about 425 pounds. Placing the artwork on the wall was a task set to La Crescenta resident Paul Mattersteig and Roy Westhoff of Sierra Pacific Constructors.
The two worked closely with the airport engineer.
“We used the existing structure to hang the sculpture,” Westhoff said.
Mattersteig added they had never installed a work of art of that magnitude, especially one that was so heavy and with so many eyes watching them.
There were several news agencies at the unveiling in addition to dignitaries and Hope’s daughter Linda and son Kelly looking on.
“I was a little nervous,” Mattersteig said after the unveiling.
The event began with Joyce Streator, president of the Bob Hope Airport Authority, welcoming Hope’s family and giving a bit of the history of his connection to the airport and the San Fernando Valley.
“In December of 2003 the airport’s name was changed to the Bob Hope Airport to honor a man so well known to all of us. We share a common history. Mr. Hope came to the valley during the same time the airport was [established] in the 1930s,” Streator said.
She spoke of his fame and his dedication to the men and women serving in the military around the world through his travels with the USO.
Linda Hope talked of her father and mother’s strong connection to the area.
“One of the things I think that is important to remember is that Dad traveled all over the world so it is very fitting that an airport would bear his name,” Hope said.
Bob Hope is known as an actor in movies especially with his road shows with Bing Crosby and in television with his many specials. He is also remembered as a strong force behind the USO. For years Hope traveled the world to bring a bit of home to military troops. The sculpture shows Hope with shirtsleeves rolled up and a USO patch on his arm.
“It depicts Bob at his best, in the field with the troops,” said Sloan Gibson, president and chief executive officer of the USO.
The depiction is the same that is on the medallion given to recipients of the Spirit of Hope Award that is presented to distinguished Americans whose patriotism and service to the troops reflects that of Bob Hope.
On the medallion Hope is standing in front of the ever-present microphone on stage entertaining the troops.
Sculptor Wiegand said the family liked the image and wanted to extend it to the airport.
“I began talking with the family and [airport officials] in 2002 and then began sculpting in 2007,” he said.
Passengers and visitors can see the new artwork as they walk through the main entrance of the airport.
“After today the four to six million passengers who pass through this terminal each year will capture and enjoy the spirit of Mr. Hope,” Streator said.