The night Bob Hope came to Selma

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Ross Hobbs still remembers the night Bob Hope came to Selma.

It was Oct. 24, 1983. The event, a benefit concert to aid what was then the Performing Arts Center, was billed as &uot;Stars Fell on Alabama.&uot; Those who were there say it’s a night they’ll never forget.

The comedian headlined a night of acts that included country and bluegrass star Ricky Skaggs, Anita Bryant, the musical group Mocha, and a 20-year-old Miss America named Vanessa Williams.

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Hobbs said it took several months of work from all the board members to get such a big celebrity to come to the benefit.

When the big day finally arrived, organizers say Hope did more than fulfill his obligations.

Former board member Jim Stallings was one of the lucky few who got to shake Hope’s hand that night.

Stallings said Hope put on a great performance, with the Maxwell Air Force Band providing the music as he sang.

City Councilwoman Jean Martin, who continues to serve on the Performing Arts board, said she was grateful for the opportunity to tell Hope how much her husband enjoyed seeing the entertainer perform while on a military tour of duty overseas.

Martin said that when Hope came on stage during that night almost 20 years ago, the audience went wild.

Hope’s performance that night was just one of countless ways the entertainer expressed his devotion to his fans.

While the curtain may have come down for the final time on Bob Hope’s long career in show business, his legacy will continue.

And for those who were lucky enough to be there, he will always be remembered for the night he came to Selma.