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Suddenly Forgetful

September 22, 1996

In "Suddenly Screwball," her article last Sunday on Brooke Shields, Jeannine Stein writes: "Pre-'Friends,' Shields' reputation as a comedic actress was pretty much nonexistent . . . till now she has never shown the world that she could pull off a successful pratfall." And from Brooke herself: "It's something I've never professionally explored and I've never had the opportunity or encouragement."

Pardon me, but Bob Hope discovered Brooke's comedic talents almost 20 years ago. I was on Hope's writing staff between 1977 and 1992, and during that time Brookie guested on our show no less than 14 times (more often than anyone else). She played roles in scores of sketches ranging from Becky Thatcher to Princess Diana to a Naval Academy plebe ("They let me skip the physical. The doctor had seen 'The Blue Lagoon' five times").

Hope took a gangly (albeit gorgeous) 14-year-old and taught her the basics of TV comedy: timing, movement and delivery. Brooke obviously enjoyed every minute of it and improved with each appearance. Granted, it wasn't "Your Show of Shows," but it was great training for a kid who, until then, had had little acting experience fully clothed.

If "Suddenly Susan" is a success, Brooke has much to thank Bob Hope for.

BOB MILLS

Studio City

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