Triggered By An 85-Year-Old Song

Movie Music Haunted Me With Flashbacks Of My Doomed Romance

Tom Owens: How I REALLY Feel!
Human Parts
Published in
4 min readJun 6


Movie poster for “Big Broadcast of 1938” with large image of W.C. Fields. “with MARTHA RAYE.” Below her is the name of DOROTHY LAMOUR.
Bob Hope had never appeared in a major studio full-length movie before. He wasn’t a household name in Hollywood. Yet. (Fair Use Under U.S. Copyright Law)

My Saturday afternoon played like a movie matinee. Not a whole movie, mind you — just a trailer, a preview.

I know two sisters who run a funky downtown gift shop. At Paradox, they will play vintage music, jazz or 1950s and 60s rock for shoppers. Their music creates a time warp, a whole new atmosphere to appreciate the vintage treasures available. But today, I knew this song too well. This music was too close for comfort.

The song “Thanks for the Memory” was performed in the all-star musical revue movie The Big Broadcast of 1938, by Bob Hope and Shirley Ross. The pair played a divorced couple who went their separate ways, then met up by accident on a cruise ship. “Thanks for the Memory” is a half-sung, half-spoken ballad between Hope and Ross. They take turns with each verse, alternating every couple of lines. Both singers are filled with fond appreciation, longing and regret for each other. She’s overwhelmed with emotion and walks away, as he looks on.

The film itself got lukewarm reviews upon release. A critic wrote that the film was a hodgepodge of “loose ends and tatters.” However, “Thanks for the Memory” won that year’s Academy Award for Best Original Song. Based on the song’s success Hope and Ross co-starred next in an unrelated romance called, Thanks for the Memory (1938).

(Robert Grimes Collection, courtesy of Great American Songbook Foundation Library and Archives)

Hope would adopt the song as his theme music. Whenever he entered or exited a TV special or talk show — for the rest of his career — his signature song would play.

The concluding lyrics became the knockout punch I couldn’t escape.

We said goodbye with a highball
Then I got as high as a steeple
But we were intelligent people
No tears, no fuss
Hooray for us

Strictly entre nous
Darling, how are you?
And how are all
Those little dreams
That never did come true?



Tom Owens: How I REALLY Feel!
Human Parts

As “Thomas S. Owens,” he authored 50-plus children’s books. As Tom, he debates day jobs on Twitter. Now, on Medium, buckle up. Tell-all Tom is here!