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Bob Hope

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Title: Bob Hope  
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Subject: Frank Sinatra, List of Academy Awards ceremonies, Johnny Carson, James Stewart, Douglas Fairbanks
Collection: 1903 Births, 2003 Deaths, 20Th-Century American Male Actors, Academy Honorary Award Recipients, Actors Awarded British Knighthoods, American Centenarians, American Male Boxers, American Male Film Actors, American Male Radio Actors, American Male Television Actors, American People of English Descent, American People of Welsh Descent, American Radio Personalities, American Roman Catholics, American Stand-up Comedians, American Television Personalities, Burials at San Fernando Mission Cemetery, Burlesque Performers, California Republicans, Cecil B. Demille Award Golden Globe Winners, Congressional Gold Medal Recipients, Converts to Roman Catholicism, Deaths from Pneumonia, English Emigrants to the United States, Honorary United States Marines, Infectious Disease Deaths in California, Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award Winners, Kennedy Center Honorees, Kentucky Colonels, Knights Commander with Star of the Order of St. Gregory the Great, Las Vegas Entertainers, National Radio Hall of Fame Inductees, Paramount Pictures Contract Players, Peabody Award Winners, People from Cleveland, Ohio, People from Eltham, People from the Greater Los Angeles Area, People from Toluca Lake, Los Angeles, Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipients, Rca Victor Artists, Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award, Television Hall of Fame Inductees, United States National Medal of Arts Recipients, Vaudeville Performers, World Golf Hall of Fame Inductees
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Bob Hope

Bob Hope
Hope in 1978
Born Leslie Townes Hope
(1903-05-29)May 29, 1903
Eltham, London, England, United Kingdom
Died July 27, 2003(2003-07-27) (aged 100)
Toluca Lake, California, US
Cause of death Pneumonia
Resting place San Fernando Mission Cemetery
Other names Packy East
Occupation Actor, comedian, singer, author, athlete
Years active 1919–97
Spouse(s) Grace Louise Troxell (1933–34)
Dolores Hope (1934–2003; his death)
Children 4
Relatives Jack Hope (brother)
Bob Hope
Rated at Super Featherweight (128 lb)
Height 5 ft 10 in (178 cm)
Reach 72 in (183 cm)

Leslie Townes "Bob" Hope, KBE, KC*SG, KSS (May 29, 1903 – July 27, 2003), was a British-born American comedian, vaudevillian, actor, singer, dancer, athlete, and author. With a career spanning nearly 80 years, Hope appeared in over 70 films and shorts, including a series of "Road" movies co-starring Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour. In addition to hosting the Academy Awards fourteen times (more than any other host), he appeared in many stage productions and television roles and was the author of fourteen books. The song "Thanks for the Memory" is widely regarded as Hope's signature tune.

Celebrated for his long career performing United States Armed Forces in 1997 by act of the U.S. Congress.[1]

Hope participated in the sports of golf and boxing, and owned a small stake in his hometown baseball team, the Cleveland Indians. He was married to performer Dolores Hope (née DeFina) for 69 years. Hope died at age 100 at his home in Toluca Lake, California.


  • Early years 1
  • Career 2
    • Film 2.1
    • Broadcasting 2.2
    • NBC comedy specials 2.3
    • USO 2.4
    • Theater 2.5
    • Critical reception 2.6
  • Personal life 3
    • Marriages 3.1
    • Extramarital affairs 3.2
    • Activism 3.3
  • Later years 4
  • Illness and death 5
  • Estate 6
  • Awards and honors 7
    • Academy Awards 7.1
  • Discography 8
    • Singles 8.1
  • Bibliography 9
  • See also 10
  • References 11
  • Further reading 12
  • External links 13

Early years

Writer George Patton in Sicily during World War II

Hope was born in Bristol. In 1908, the family emigrated to the United States aboard the SS Philadelphia and passed through Ellis Island on March 30, 1908, before moving to Cleveland, Ohio.[2]

From age 12, Hope earned pocket money by busking (frequently on the streetcar to Luna Park), singing, dancing, and performing comedy.[3] He entered many dancing and amateur talent contests (as Lester Hope) and won a prize in 1915 for his impersonation of Charlie Chaplin.[4] For a time, he attended the Boys' Industrial School in Lancaster, Ohio. As an adult, he donated sizable sums of money to the institution.[5]

Hope worked as a butcher's assistant and a Hilton Sisters, conjoined twins who performed a tap dancing routine in the vaudeville circuit. Hope and Byrne had an act as a pair of Siamese twins as well, and danced and sang while wearing blackface, before friends advised Hope that he was funnier as himself.[7]

In 1929, Hope informally changed his first name to "Bob". In one version of the story, he named himself after racecar driver Bob Burman.[8] In another, he said he chose the name because he wanted a name with a "friendly 'Hiya, fellas!' sound" to it.[9] In a 1942 legal document, Hope's legal name is given as Lester Townes Hope; it is unknown if this reflects a legal name change from Leslie.[10] After five years on the vaudeville circuit, Hope was "surprised and humbled" when he failed a 1930 screen test for the French film production company Pathé at Culver City, California.[11]


In the early days, Hope's career included appearances on stage in Vaudeville shows and Broadway productions. He began performing on the radio in 1934 and switched to television when that medium became popular in the 1950s. He began doing regular TV specials in 1954,[12] and hosted the Academy Awards fourteen times in the period from 1941 to 1978.[13] Overlapping with this was his movie career, spanning the years 1934 to 1972, and his USO tours, which he did from 1941 to 1991.[14][15]


Hope signed a contract for six short films with Educational Pictures of New York. The first was a comedy, Going Spanish (1934). He was not happy with the film, and told Walter Winchell, "When they catch John Dillinger, they're going to make him sit through it twice."[16] Educational dropped his contract, but he soon signed with Warner Brothers. He made movies during the day and performed Broadway shows in the evenings.[17]

Bob Hope in The Ghost Breakers trailer (1940)

Hope moved to Hollywood when Paramount Pictures signed him for the 1938 film The Big Broadcast of 1938, also starring W. C. Fields. The song "Thanks for the Memory", which later became his trademark, was introduced in this film as a duet with Shirley Ross as accompanied by Shep Fields and his orchestra.[18] The sentimental, fluid nature of the music allowed Hope's writers (he depended heavily upon joke writers throughout his career[19]) to later create variations of the song to fit specific circumstances, such as bidding farewell to troops while on tour.[20]

Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour in Road to Bali (1952)

As a movie star, he was best known for comedies like

External links

Further reading


  1. ^
  2. ^ Moreno 2008, p. 88.
  3. ^ Grudens 2002, p. 4.
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ Quirk 1998, pp. 19–23.
  7. ^ Faith 2003, pp. 402–403.
  8. ^ Quirk 1998, p. 44.
  9. ^ Grudens 2002, pp. 15–16.
  10. ^
  11. ^ Quirk 1998, pp. 57–58.
  12. ^ Quirk 1998, p. 229.
  13. ^ a b Grudens 2002, p. 154.
  14. ^ Quirk 1998, pp. 318–320.
  15. ^ a b c Grudens 2002, pp. 181–182.
  16. ^ Maltin 1972, p. 25.
  17. ^ Quirk 1998, pp. 105, 107.
  18. ^ Quirk 1998, pp. 110, 113.
  19. ^ Lahr 1998.
  20. ^ Grudens 2002, p. 133.
  21. ^ Quirk 1998, p. 112.
  22. ^ Quirk 1998, p. 128.
  23. ^ Grudens 2002, pp. 174–180.
  24. ^ Quirk 1998, p. 127.
  25. ^ Quirk 1998, pp. 127, 137.
  26. ^ Quirk 1998, p. 265.
  27. ^ Quirk 1998, p. 287.
  28. ^ Grudens 2002, p. 41.
  29. ^ Quirk 1998, pp. 285–286.
  30. ^ McCaffrey 2005, p. 56.
  31. ^ Nachman 1998, p. 144.
  32. ^ Grudens 2002, pp. 30–32.
  33. ^ Quirk 1998, pp. 92–103.
  34. ^ Grudens 2002, pp. 47–48.
  35. ^ a b Grudens 2002, p. 160.
  36. ^ Grudens 2002, p. 48.
  37. ^
  38. ^ Quirk 1998, p. 291.
  39. ^
  40. ^
  41. ^
  42. ^
  43. ^ Friedrich 1986, p. 26.
  44. ^ Grudens 2002, p. 113.
  45. ^ a b
  46. ^ Grudens 2002, pp. 251, 254, 258.
  47. ^ Quirk 1998, p. 261.
  48. ^ Steinbeck 1958, p. 65.
  49. ^
  50. ^ Faith 2003, p. 429.
  51. ^
  52. ^ Faith 2003, p. 403.
  53. ^ Quirk 1998, p. 71.
  54. ^ Quirk 1998, pp. 73–75.
  55. ^
  56. ^
  57. ^ Quirk 1998, p. 158.
  58. ^ Quirk 1998, pp. 123, 183.
  59. ^ a b Quirk 1998, p. 153.
  60. ^ Quirk 1998, p. 172.
  61. ^ Quirk 1998, pp. 184, 187.
  62. ^ Quirk 1998, p. 173.
  63. ^
  64. ^ Quirk 1998, pp. 255, 276, 314.
  65. ^ Grudens 2002, p. 161.
  66. ^ Quirk 1998, p. 312.
  67. ^
  68. ^ Grudens 2002, p. 57.
  69. ^
  70. ^
  71. ^
  72. ^
  73. ^
  74. ^
  75. ^
  76. ^
  77. ^
  78. ^
  79. ^
  80. ^
  81. ^
  82. ^ Quirk 1998, p. 66.
  83. ^ a b
  84. ^ Quirk 1998, p. 81.
  85. ^ Quirk 1998, pp. 86–87.
  86. ^
  87. ^ 1940 US Census via
  88. ^ Quirk 1998, pp. 82, 90.
  89. ^ a b c d e f O'Dowd 2006, p. 65.
  90. ^
  91. ^
  92. ^
  93. ^
  94. ^
  95. ^
  96. ^
  97. ^
  98. ^
  99. ^
  100. ^
  101. ^ a b
  102. ^
  103. ^
  104. ^ Quirk 1998, p. 313.
  105. ^ Grudens 2002, p. 148.
  106. ^
  107. ^
  108. ^
  109. ^
  110. ^
  111. ^
  112. ^ Mikailian 2012.
  113. ^ Grudens 2002, pp. 152–153.
  114. ^
  115. ^
  116. ^
  117. ^
  118. ^
  119. ^
  120. ^
  121. ^ "Bob Hope Gallery" [1]. Accessed 2015 July 14.
  122. ^ Mary Claire Campbell, "Bob Hope and His Ladies of Hope: His Mother, Wife and Our Lady of Hope Made All the Difference in His Life", 10/19/2011, [2]. Accessed 2015 July 14.
  123. ^
  124. ^
  125. ^
  126. ^



See also


Year Single U.S. Pop
1938 "Thanks for the Memory" (A-side) (Bob Hope & Shirley Ross)
1939 "Two Sleepy People" (B-side) (Bob Hope & Shirley Ross) 15
1945 "The Road to Morocco" (Bing Crosby & Bob Hope) 21
1950 "Blind Date" (Margaret Whiting & Bob Hope) 16



Although he was never nominated for a competitive Oscar, Hope was awarded five honorary awards by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences:[125]

Academy Awards

Several buildings and facilities were renamed after Hope, including the historic Fox Theater in downtown Stockton, California,[119] and the Bob Hope Airport in Burbank.[120] There is a Bob Hope Gallery at the Library of Congress.[121] In memory of his mother, Avis Townes Hope, Bob and Dolores Hope gave the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC a chapel, the Chapel of Our Lady of Hope.[122] USNS Bob Hope (T-AKR-300) of the U.S. Military Sealift Command was named after the performer in 1997. It is one of very few U.S. naval ships that were named after living people.[123] The United States Air Force named a C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft the Spirit of Bob Hope.[124]

Hope was awarded over two thousand honors and awards, including 54 honorary doctorates. In 1963 President John F. Kennedy awarded him the Congressional Gold Medal for service to his country.[113] President Lyndon Johnson bestowed the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Hope in 1969 for his service to the men and women of the armed forces through the USO.[114] In 1982, he received the S. Roger Horchow Award for Greatest Public Service by a Private Citizen, an award given out annually by Jefferson Awards.[115] He was presented with the National Medal of Arts in 1995[116] and received the Ronald Reagan Freedom Award in 1997.[117] Hope became the 64th and only civilian recipient of the United States Air Force Order of the Sword on June 10, 1980. The Order of the Sword recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to the enlisted corps.[118]

Nancy Reagan prepares to present Hope (age 94) with the Ronald Reagan Freedom Award, 1997

Awards and honors

Hope's Modernist 23,366-square-foot (2,171 m2) home, built to resemble a volcano, was designed in 1973 by John Lautner. Located above Palm Springs, it has panoramic views of the Coachella Valley and the San Jacinto Mountains. The house was placed on the market for the first time in February 2013 with an asking price of $50 million.[111] Hope also owned a home which had been custom built for him in 1939 on an 87,000-square-foot (8,083 m2) lot in Toluca Lake. The house was placed on the market in late 2012.[112]


On the morning of July 27, 2003, two months after his 100th birthday, Hope died of pneumonia at his home in [110]

Grave of Bob Hope, on the grounds of the Mission San Fernando Rey de Espana

In 1998, a prepared obituary by the Associated Press was inadvertently released on the Internet, prompting Hope's death to be announced in the U.S. House of Representatives.[103][104] Hope remained in good health until old age, though he became slightly frail.[105] In June 2000, he spent nearly a week in a California hospital after being hospitalized for gastrointestinal bleeding.[106] In August 2001, he spent close to two weeks in the hospital recovering from pneumonia.[107]

At a USO show

Illness and death

Hope celebrated his 100th birthday on May 29, 2003.[100] He is among a small group of notable centenarians in the field of entertainment. To mark this event, the intersection of Hollywood and Vine in Los Angeles was named "Bob Hope Square" and his centennial was declared "Bob Hope Day" in 35 states. Even at 100, Hope maintained his self-deprecating sense of humor, quipping, "I'm so old, they've canceled my blood type."[101] He converted to Roman Catholicism late in life.[102]

At the age of 95, Hope made an appearance at the 50th anniversary of the Primetime Emmy Awards with Milton Berle and Sid Caesar.[97] Two years later, he was present at the opening of the Bob Hope Gallery of American Entertainment at the Library of Congress. The Library of Congress has presented two major exhibitions about Hope's life – "Hope for America: Performers, Politics and Pop Culture" and "Bob Hope and American Variety."[98][99]

[96]. Upon accepting the appointment, Hope quipped, "I'm speechless. 70 years of ad lib material and I'm speechless."Queen Elizabeth II by Order of the British Empire and in 1998 he was appointed an honorary Knight Commander of the Most Excellent [95],Kennedy Center Honors In 1985, he was presented with the Life Achievement Award at the [94], he made several cameos in various films and co-starred with Cancel My Reservation Hope continued an active career past his 75th birthday, concentrating on his television specials and USO tours. Although he had given up starring in movies after

Bob Hope and his wife, Dolores Hope, on Capitol Hill as he receives an award in 1978
Hope (left) with Nancy Reagan and President Ronald Reagan in 1981

Later years

Hope served as an active honorary chairman on the board of Fight for Sight. He hosted their Lights On telecast in 1960 and donated $100,000 to establish the Bob Hope Fight for Sight Fund.[91] He recruited numerous top celebrities for the annual "Lights On" fundraiser; as an example, he hosted Joe Frazier, Yvonne De Carlo, and Sergio Franchi as headliners for the show at Philharmonic Hall in Milwaukee on April 25, 1971.[92]

From left to right: Spiro and Judy Agnew, Bob and Dolores Hope, Richard and Pat Nixon, Nancy and Ronald Reagan during a campaign stop for the Nixon-Agnew ticket in California, 1971


Hope had a reputation as a womanizer and continued to see other women in spite of his marriage.[88] In 1949, while Hope was in Dallas on a publicity tour for his radio show, he met starlet Barbara Payton, a contract player at Universal Studios, who at the time was on her own public relations jaunt. Shortly thereafter, Hope set Payton up in an apartment in Hollywood.[89] The arrangement soured as Hope was not able to satisfy Payton's definition of generosity and her need for attention.[89] Hope paid her off to end the affair quietly. Payton later revealed the affair in an article printed in July 1956 in Confidential.[89] "Hope was ... at times a mean-spirited individual with the ability to respond with a ruthless vengeance when sufficiently provoked."[89] His advisors counseled him to avoid further publicity by ignoring the Confidential exposé.[89] "Barbara's ... revelations caused a minor ripple ... and then quickly sank without causing any appreciable damage to Bob Hope's legendary career."[89] According to Arthur Marx's Hope biography, The Secret Life of Bob Hope, Hope's subsequent long-term affair with actress Marilyn Maxwell was so open that the Hollywood community routinely referred to her as "Mrs. Bob Hope".[90]

Extramarital affairs

The couple lived at 10342 Moorpark Street in Toluca Lake, CA from 1937 until his death. In 1935, they lived in Manhattan.[87]

In February 1934,[84] Hope married Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan.[86]

Hope's first short-lived marriage was to his vaudeville partner, Grace Louise Troxell, whom he married in January 1933[82] and divorced in November 1934.[83]

The Hope family. Back, from left: Tony, Dolores, and Linda. Front, from left: Kelly, Hope, and Nora


Personal life

Hope bought a small stake in the Cleveland Indians baseball team in 1946[75] and owned it for most of the rest of his life.[76] He appeared on the June 3, 1963, cover of Sports Illustrated magazine wearing an Indians uniform,[77] and sang a special version of "Thanks for the Memory" after the Indians' last game at Cleveland Stadium on October 3, 1993.[78] Hope bought a share of the Los Angeles Rams football team in 1947 with Bing Crosby[79] and sold it in 1962.[80] He would frequently use his television specials to promote the annual College Football All-America Team. The players would enter the stage one-by-one and introduce themselves, and Hope, often dressed in a football uniform, would give a one-liner about the player or his school.[81]

The Bill Clinton – the only time when three presidents played in the same golf foursome.[73] Now known as the Humana Challenge, it was one of the few PGA Tour tournament that took place over five rounds, until the 2012 tournament, when it was cut back to the conventional four rounds.[74]

A golf club became an integral prop for Hope during the standup segments of his television specials and USO shows. In 1978, he putted against a then two-year-old Tiger Woods in a television appearance with James Stewart on The Mike Douglas Show.[72]

Hope was an avid golfer, playing in as many as 150 charity tournaments a year.[68] Introduced to the game in the 1930s while performing in Winnipeg,[69] he eventually played to a four handicap. His love for the game—and the humor he could find in it—made him a sought-after foursome member. He once remarked that President Dwight D. Eisenhower gave up golf for painting – "fewer strokes, you know."[70] "It's wonderful how you can start out with three strangers in the morning, play 18 holes, and by the time the day is over you have three solid enemies," he once said.[71]

Bob Hope, a golf fan, putting a golf ball into an ashtray held by President Richard Nixon in the Oval Office in 1973

Hope had a brief career as a boxer in 1919 fighting under the name Packy East. He had three wins and one loss, and participated in a few staged charity bouts later in life.[67]

Although he made an effort to keep his material up-to-date, he never adapted his comic persona or his routines to any great degree. As Hollywood began to transition to the New Hollywood era in the 1960s, Hope reacted negatively such as when he hosted the 40th Academy Awards in 1968, and voiced his contempt such as mocking at its delay due to the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and greeting attending younger actors on stage like Dustin Hoffman (who was 30 at the time) as children.[63] By the 1970s his popularity was beginning to wane with soldiers and with the movie-going public.[64] However, he continued doing USO tours into the 1980s,[65] and he continued to appear on television into the 1990s. Nancy Reagan called him "America's most honored citizen and our favorite clown."[66]

Hope was praised for his comedy timing, specializing in one-liners and rapid-fire delivery of jokes. His style of delivery of self-deprecating jokes, first building himself up and then tearing himself down, was unique. Working tirelessly, he performed hundreds of times per year.[57] Early films such as The Cat and the Canary (1939) and The Paleface (1948) were financially successful and were praised by critics,[58] and by the mid-1940s, with his radio program getting good ratings as well, he became one of the most popular entertainers in the United States.[59] When Paramount threatened to stop production of the Road pictures in 1945, they received 75,000 letters in protest.[60] He had no faith in his skills as a dramatic actor, and his performances of that type were not as well received.[61] Hope had been a leader in the radio medium until the late 1940s, but as his ratings began to slip, he switched to television in the 1950s, an early pioneer of that medium.[35][62] He published several books—written with ghostwriters—about his wartime experiences.[59]

With sidekick Jerry Colonna in 1940

Critical reception

Hope rescued Eltham Little Theatre from closure by providing funds to buy the property. He continued his interest and support and regularly visited when in London. The theatre was renamed in his honor in 1982.[56]

Hope's first Broadway appearances, in 1927's The Sidewalks of New York and 1928's Ups-a-Daisy, were minor walk-on parts.[52] He returned to Broadway in 1933 to star as Huckleberry Haines in the Jerome Kern / Dorothy Fields musical Roberta.[53] Stints in the musicals Say When, the 1936 Ziegfeld Follies (with Fanny Brice), and Red, Hot and Blue with Ethel Merman and Jimmy Durante followed.[54] Hope reprised his role as Huck Haines in a 1958 production of Roberta at The Muny Theater in Forest Park, St. Louis, Missouri.[55]


Bob Hope and Ann Jillian perform at the USO Christmas Tour during Operation Desert Shield

For his service to his country through the USO, he was awarded the Sylvanus Thayer Award by the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1968.[49] A 1997 act of Congress signed by President Bill Clinton named Hope an "Honorary Veteran." He remarked, "I've been given many awards in my lifetime — but to be numbered among the men and women I admire most — is the greatest honor I have ever received."[50] In homage to Hope, Stephen Colbert carried a golf club on stage each night during his own week of USO performances, which were taped for his TV show, The Colbert Report, during the 2009 season.[51]

When the time for recognition of service to the nation in wartime comes to be considered, Bob Hope should be high on the list. This man drives himself and is driven. It is impossible to see how he can do so much, can cover so much ground, can work so hard, and can be so effective. He works month after month at a pace that would kill most people.[48]

Hope recruited his own family members for USO travel. His wife, Dolores, sang from atop an armored vehicle during the Desert Storm tour, and his granddaughter, Miranda, appeared alongside Hope on an aircraft carrier in the Indian Ocean.[45] Of Hope's USO shows in World War II, writer John Steinbeck, who was then working as a war correspondent, wrote in 1943:

Hope at Lackland Air Force Base, 1990

While aboard the RMS Queen Mary when World War II began in September 1939, Hope volunteered to perform a special show for the passengers, during which he sang "Thanks for the Memory" with rewritten lyrics.[43] He performed his first USO show on May 6, 1941, at March Field, California,[44] and continued to travel and entertain troops for the rest of World War II, later during the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the third phase of the Lebanon Civil War, the latter years of the Iran–Iraq War, and the 1990–91 Persian Gulf War.[15] His USO career lasted half a century, during which he headlined 57 tours.[15] He had a deep respect for the men and women who served in the military, and this was reflected in his willingness to go anywhere in order to entertain them.[45] During the Vietnam War, Hope had trouble convincing some performers to join him on tour. Anti-war sentiment was high, and Hope's pro-war stance made him a target of criticism. Some shows were drowned out by boos and others were listened to in silence.[46] The tours were funded by the United States Department of Defense, his television sponsors, and by NBC, the network which broadcast the television specials that were created after each tour. Many people considered him as an enabler of the war and a member of the system that made it possible.[47]

Hope entertains soldiers during World War II


In 1992, Hope made a guest appearance as himself on The Simpsons, in the episode "Lisa the Beauty Queen" (season 4, episode 4).[37] Towards the end of his career, eye problems left him unable to read his cue cards.[38] His 90th birthday television celebration in May 1993, Bob Hope: The First 90 Years, won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Variety, Music Or Comedy Special.[39] In October 1996 Hope announced that he was ending his 60-year contract with NBC, joking that he "decided to become a free agent".[40] His final television special, Laughing with the Presidents, was broadcast in November 1996, with host Tony Danza helping him present a personal retrospective of presidents of the United States known to the comedian. The special received poor reviews.[41] Following a brief appearance at the 50th Primetime Emmy Awards in 1997, Hope's last TV appearance was in a 1997 commercial with the introduction of Big Kmart directed by Penny Marshall.[42]

Hope with James Garner (1961)

Hope did many specials for the NBC television network in the following decades, beginning in April 1950. He was one of the first people to use cue cards. The shows were often sponsored by General Motors (1955–61), Chrysler (1963–73), and Texaco (1975–85).[34] Hope's Christmas specials were popular favorites and often featured a performance of "Silver Bells" (from his 1951 film The Lemon Drop Kid) done as a duet with an often much younger female guest star (such as Olivia Newton-John, Barbara Eden, and Brooke Shields[35]), or with his wife Dolores, with whom he dueted on two specials. Hope's 1970 and 1971 Christmas specials for NBC—filmed in Vietnam in front of military audiences at the height of the war—are on the list of the Top 46 U.S. network prime-time telecasts. Both were seen by more than 60 per cent of the U.S. households watching television.[36]

Hope (right) with his brother Jack (seated), who produced his early 1950s show. Standing between them is comedian Jack Benny.

NBC comedy specials

Hope's career in broadcasting began on radio in 1934. His first regular series for NBC Radio was the Woodbury Soap Hour in 1937, a 26-week contract. A year later, The Pepsodent Show Starring Bob Hope began, and Hope signed a ten-year contract with the show's sponsor, Lever Brothers. Hope hired eight writers and paid them out of his salary of $2,500 a week. The original staff included Mel Shavelson, Norman Panama, Jack Rose, Sherwood Schwartz, and Schwartz's brother Al. The writing staff eventually grew to fifteen.[31] The show became the top radio program in the country. Regulars on the series included Jerry Colonna and Barbara Jo Allen as spinster Vera Vague. Hope continued his lucrative career in radio through to the 1950s, when radio's popularity was overshadowed by television.[32][33]

Jerry Colonna and Bob Hope as caricatured by Sam Berman for NBC's 1947 promotional book


Hope was host of the Academy Awards ceremony fourteen times between 1939 and 1977. His feigned desire for an Academy Award became part of his act.[13] Although he was never nominated for an Oscar, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences honored him with four honorary awards, and in 1960, the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. While introducing the 1968 telecast, he quipped, "Welcome to the Academy Awards, or, as it's known at my house, Passover."[30]

Hope starred in 54 theatrical features between 1938 and 1972,[28] as well as cameos and short films. Most of Hope's later movies failed to match the success of his 1940s efforts. He was disappointed with his appearance in Cancel My Reservation (1972), his last starring film, and the movie was poorly received by critics and filmgoers.[29] Though his career as a film star effectively ended in 1972, Hope made a few cameo appearances in films into the 1980s.

After the release of Road to Singapore (1940), Hope's screen career took off, and he had a long and successful career in the movies. After an 11-year hiatus, Hope and Crosby teamed up for the last Road movie, The Road to Hong Kong (1962), starring 28-year-old Joan Collins in place of Lamour, who Hope and Crosby thought was too old for the part.[26] They had planned one more movie together in 1977, The Road to the Fountain of Youth. Filming was postponed when Crosby was injured in a fall, and the production was cancelled when he suddenly died of heart failure that October.[27]

Bob Hope and Bing Crosby sing and dance during "Chicago Style" in Road to Bali (1952)

Hope teamed with Crosby for the "Road" pictures and countless stage, radio, and television appearances over the decades, from their first meeting in 1932[24] until Crosby's death in 1977. The two invested together in oil leases and other business ventures, but did not see each other socially.[25]

[23].Elke Sommer and Jane Russell, Rosemary Clooney, Lucille Ball, Hedy Lamarr, Katharine Hepburn, including leading ladies Hope and Lamour were lifelong friends, and she remains the actress most associated with his film career. Hope made movies with dozens of other [22] / Shoeshine (1947)

  • Walter Wanger / Monsieur Vincent / Sid Grauman / Adolph Zukor (1948)
  • Jean Hersholt / Fred Astaire / Cecil B. DeMille / The Bicycle Thief (1949)
  • The Walls of Malapaga (1950)
  • Gene Kelly / Rashomon (1951)
  • Joseph M. Schenck / Forbidden Games (1952)
  • 20th Century-Fox Film Corporation / Bell & Howell Company / Joseph Breen / Pete Smith (1953)
  • Bausch & Lomb Optical Company / Danny Kaye / Kemp Niver / Greta Garbo / Jon Whiteley / Vincent Winter / Gate of Hell (1954)
  • Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto (1955)
  • Eddie Cantor (1956)
  • Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers / Gilbert M. "Broncho Billy" Anderson / Charles Brackett / B. B. Kahane (1957)
  • Maurice Chevalier (1958)
  • Buster Keaton / Lee de Forest (1959)
  • Gary Cooper / Stan Laurel / Hayley Mills (1960)
  • 1961–1980
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