While on our perpetual quest for the perfect sketch ending, on rare occasions, one would just land in our creative laps.
We were taping a special one year entitled "Bob Hope Salutes the Soaps." Hope had landed Elizabeth Taylor, known to be addicted to the daytime pot boilers, (Sammy Davis was, too.)
and had promised that we’d write her a sketch that would parody her favorite sudser, "General Hospital."
We set it in an operating room with Hope as a gastroenterologist who’s having a torrid affair with his head surgical nurse, Elizabeth.
But the randy Florence Nightingale is concurrently scrubbing
instruments for a pair of Hope’s fellow residents — Anthony Geary (whose marriage to Genie Francis on "General Hospital" had recently made headlines) and movie icon, Glenn Ford. In our sketch, the “patient” on the table was a bit player with whom, in our story, Liz was also having an affair.
During rehearsal, Richard Burton arrived on the set to pick up his wife for lunch. We all looked at him with the same idea. Would he mind lying on the table for a few minutes? We’d write a few lines for him and, since he hadn’t been booked on the show, would surprise an audience who had no inkling he was in town. Burton was a big fan of Hope’s and a good sport. He agreed and provided us with a blackout the likes of which writers can only dream.
This excerpt, read by the author, is from THE LAUGH MAKERS: A Behind-the-Scenes Tribute to Bob Hope's Incredible Gag Writers (c) 2009 by Robert L. Mills and published by BearManor Media.com in both print and audio versions.