Orangeburg remembers connection to entertainment legend - - Columbia, South Carolina |

Orangeburg remembers connection to entertainment legend

(Orangeburg) July 28, 2003 - Orangeburg's Morris Rivers witnessed the horrors of war as an 19-year-old fighting in Vietnam, "I saw a lot of dead bodies." Rivers remembers one young GI in particular, "His name was Steve Hampton. Me and him was in Vietnam together. After about seven months, he got killed."

Rivers remembers one bright spot even during the darkest hours. He saw legendary entertainer Bob Hope in 1965, "It was really...really the highlight of my career was seeing him."

The entire Orangeburg community shares a special bond with Bob Hope. He is credited with giving his first United States appearance in the community at a theater called the Blue Bird.

Theatre Group president Michael Crawford says in 1924 the original Blue Bird Theater sat just down the street from where it is today, "Only had two dressing rooms, one for men and one for women. And they were such nobodies, they had to dress in the furnace room with the coal."

Hope remembered the meager beginning when he returned to the Palmetto State and accepted an award in 1975. Even in death, Hope conjures up feelings of pride in Orangeburg.

The road led him to become a hero to average Joe's and four generations of veterans like Rivers, "I think Bob Hope had love of country, fellow man."

It cost 25 cents to attend hopes first performance at the Blue Bird in Orangeburg. He is quoted in an Orangeburg Times and Democrat article as saying he should apologize to the people of Orangeburg, because his first performance there was so dreadful. He also mentions the Blue Bird in a book that he wrote called "Have Tux Will Travel."

By Kara Gormley
Posted 7:23pm by BrettWitt

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