Bob Hope rose from his birth in England to become one of the most recognized talents in the world. His career spans decades and many types of entertainment. He is truly a gifted performer.
On May 29, 1903 Bob Hope was born as Leslie Townes Hope in Eltham, England. He was the fifth son of seven to a stonemason and an aspiring concert singer. In 1907 the family moved to Cleveland, Ohio from England, becoming a joke in later years that at the age of four he realized he wouldn’t be king and the family moved to America. In 1920 he and his brothers became U.S. citizens, he then became known as Bob Hope. He was married to Dolores Reade in 1934 and they had four children and four grandchildren together and they remained married for his life time.
He began his career at the age of twelve entering many different dancing and amateur talent contests. He even won a prize for his impersonation of Charlie Chaplin. He tried boxing under the name Packy East but this was unsuccessful. He then became involved in Vaudeville performing as a Siamese twin with George Byrne, other performers included the Hilton Sisters and George Burns. He spent five years on the Vaudeville circuit and then traveled to New York to continue his career.
He became involved in Broadway acting alongside many other notable celebrities. His first major recognition came in 1933 when he performed as a wise-cracking Huckleberry Haines in the performance of Roberta. He then appeared in Say When, and Ziegfeld Follies where he shared the stage with Fanny Brice. Ziegfeld Follies was such a success that he then was awarded the opportunity to perform in Red, Hot and Blue with Jimmy Durante and Ethel Merman. Critics began to notice his comedic timing. His performance in Red, Hot and Blue led to his first major feature film for Paramount pictures called The big Broadcast of 1938.
Like many other performers at this time Bob performed on radio shows. He first starred with Bing Crosby during the Capitol Family Hour. Other radio shows and performances include the Woodbury Soap show and in 1938 he had his own radio show sponsored by Pepsodent. Bob did his last radio performance in 1956.
Bob became one of Paramount pictures biggest stars of the time. He made more then 50 feature films including his roles in My Favorite Brunette and Road movies and the Road movies. He starred with many famous women in the movies including his costar in the Road pictures Dorothy Lamour, Lucille Ball and Jane Russell were also co-stars. Bob Hope never nominated for an Oscar for any of his performances but has been given four honorary awards by the Academy of motion picture arts and Sciences.
His singing Career however earned him two academy award winning songs. Thanks for the memories with Shirley Ross which was in the movie The Big Broadcast of 1938 and from the movie The Paleface the song Buttons and Bows. He is also credited with the songs Two sleepy people, Silver Bells, Put it there Pal, Teamwork, and We’re off on the road to Morroco.
Bob Hope is well known for his USO performances the first of which was performed on May 6, 1941. He traveled and entertained the troops during World War II and both the Korean and Vietnam wars and later the Persian Gulf War. He almost always showed his gratitude to the troops by performing in fatigues. He has headlined over sixty USO tours and was awarded the Sylvanus Thayer Award for his service. He also began his Christmas Television specials in 1948.
Bob Hope was a big sports fan. He owned part of both the Cleveland Indians and Los Angeles Rams. He tried his hand at boxing and pool, but he loved to golf. He joked that he only told jokes to pay for his green fees. He is widely accredited with helping golf gain such popularity. He was able to golf with many presidents from Dwight D. Eisenhower to George W. Bush. His greatest gift to golf would be considered his development of the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic which has raised over 40 million dollars for various charities.
In his 100 years on this earth Bob Hope delighted millions with his charm, grace and comedy. He could sing and dance. He was a true performer. He has won many awards and been honored with many titles including a Knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II. He has had four stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, medals, memorials and tributes all in his name. He gave to a country he was not born into but his legacy in America will live on forever.