Skip to comments.Bob Hope: 1903-2003
Posted on 07/28/2003 10:35:02 AM PDT by MeekOneGOP
Bob Hope: 1903-2003
Bob Hope, the vaudeville jokester turned pop-culture giant whose ski-slope profile cast a wry shadow over the 20th century and into the 21st, died late Sunday night, just two months after his 100th birthday.
He died late Sunday of pneumonia at his home in Toluca Lake, with his family at his bedside, longtime publicist Ward Grant told the Associated Press on Monday.
From vaudeville venues to wartime USO stages, from big-screen Road tales opposite Bing Crosby to small-screen holiday specials opposite Brooke Shields, he kept America chuckling for nearly 80 years.
The legend was a bundle of contradictions. A high school dropout, he earned at least 47 honorary degrees, including a doctorate from Southern Methodist University, where a theater built in 1963 bears his name. Long an icon to the troops he doggedly entertained, he endured scattered catcalls during the war-torn Vietnam era. And perhaps the quintessential American entertainer of the modern age, he was born a Brit.
The Hope story began May 29, 1903, in Etham, at the southern tip of London. Leslie Townes Hope was the fifth of seven sons born to a concert singer and a stonemason. Far from affluent, the family moved across the pond to Cleveland a year later, where the brothers became U.S. citizens. Anecdotes of his early years, including singing on subways for his fare and telling sad stories to kindly housewives who would give him a few pennies, became part of his repertoire.
Bob Hope: 1903-2003
Bob Hope dies at 100 Share your favorite memories of Bob Hope.
Bob Hope as ...
After trying boxing, dentistry and saxophone playing, he entered vaudeville as "Les Hope." But after being hounded by the moniker "Hope-Les," he changed his first name to Bob, touting himself as "a master of songs, patter and eccentric dancing." On screen, he would emerge as a master of eccentric chatter.
Vaudeville led to Broadway, and while playing in the Jerome Kern musical Roberta in New York, he met Dolores Reade, a nightclub singer. They wed on Feb. 19, 1934, and adopted four children: Linda, a television producer; Tony, an attorney; Kelly, a newspaper columnist; and Nora, a homemaker.
As a stand-up comic, he was noted for a rapid delivery and self-deprecating humor a style that would help mold Johnny Carson, Woody Allen, Dick Cavett and Jay Leno, among many others. Mr. Allen, who considered Mr. Hope a role model, compiled a clip series from his films as a centerpiece for a 1979 Lincoln Center tribute. Mr. Cavett once said that from age 12 to 15, he would stand in front of the mirror and "become" Bob Hope, repeating all his best gags.
BORN: May 29, 1903, in Eltham, England
DIED: July, 27, 2003, in Toluca Lake, Calif.
STAGE HIGHLIGHTS: Ballyhoo of 1932 (1932), Roberta (1933), Ziegfeld Follies (1936) and Red, Hot and Blue! (1936)
MOVIE HIGHLIGHTS: The Big Broadcast of 1938 (1938), Thanks for the Memory (1938), The Cat and the Canary (1939), Road to Singapore (1940), The Ghost Breakers (1940), Road to Zanzibar (1941), Caught in the Draft (1941), Nothing But the Truth (1941), My Favorite Blonde (1942), Road to Morocco (1942), They Got Me Covered (1943), The Princess and the Pirate (1944), Road to Utopia (1945), Monsieur Beaucaire (1946), My Favorite Brunette (1947), Road to Rio (1947), The Paleface (1948), Sorrowful Jones (1949), Fancy Pants (1950), The Lemon Drop Kid (1951), My Favorite Spy (1951), Son of Paleface (1952), The Seven Little Foys (1955), Beau James (1957), The Facts of Life (1960), Critic's Choice (1963)
TELEVISION HIGHLIGHTS: He hosted 90-minute Star-Spangled Revue (1950), starred in television's first full-hour color production in 1953, signed three-year contract with NBC for $18 million in 1975, did specials for his annual Christmas tours for American troops until 1972, most frequent Academy Awards host (17 times starting in 1939).
AWARDS AND HONORS: Received 54 honorary degrees, including Doctor of Humane Letters degrees from Southern Methodist University. Other honors include two honorary Academy Awards; the Thomas White Award, the highest civilian award given by the Air Force; Father Flanagan Award for helping young men and women; United Cerebral Palsy Foundation's Firestone Award; Sherril C. Corwin Human Relations Award from the American Jewish Committee; Lifetime Achievement Award from NBC; "Thanks for the Memories" Franklin Mint medal from the Vietnam Veterans; first honorary member of Harvard's Hasty Pudding Theatricals; Al Jolson Memorial Medal from the Veterans of Foreign Wars; Gold Medal of Merit from the Jewish War Veterans of USA.
Source: Dallas Morning News research
Just four years after his marriage, his movie and radio careers zoomed. He made The Big Broadcast of 1938, the first of his 57 feature films and the one that introduced his trademark song "Thanks for the Memory," and he joined radio's The Pepsodent Show for a 12-year stint as host.
During the war years, he was patriotic without seeming pedantic. Frank Tashlin, who directed him in Son of Paleface, declared that the greatest male entertainers to emerge from World War II were Donald Duck and Bob Hope. The comparison is not farfetched. Like Walt Disney's animated fowl, Mr. Hope's screen persona could be comically cantankerous and filled with grandiose self-delusions.
A few felt his performances for American overseas forces were self-serving. But many more were impressed by his determination to spend face time with the troops. He was chief entertainer of the United Services Organization (USO) through WWII, Korea, Vietnam and even into the Persian Gulf war.
Tales of his generous spirit "for the boys" are legion. Once, a 600-man troop walked 10 miles in North Africa to see him. They missed his show and started back. When Mr. Hope heard about it, he loaded his 60-person troupe into Jeeps, overtook the soldiers on the road and staged a private show for them.
He wrote four books recounting his experiences with the USO.
"I feel I got much more out of that than I gave," he told The Dallas Morning News in 1992. "I wish I could still do it. It was always the best Christmas present I could get. When I quit making the trips, something was missing. The first time I was home for the holidays, my wife and I didn't know what to do."
The 1940s also provided his greatest movie decade. Fred MacMurray and Jack Oakie were the first choice to star in 1940's Road to Singapore . They declined, and the roles went to him and Mr. Crosby. (Ironically, he got third billing in the first of the series behind Der Bing and Dorothy Lamour). The trio became a part of film folklore, influencing later "male-bonding" movies and setting the pace for Mr. Hope's screen persona.
No other major star "lost the girl" so often. Particularly on the Road pictures, there was no contest. He would get the laughs; Crosby, of the smooth voice and confident manner, would win the damsel. Even on Road to Utopia, the one Road comedy in which Mr. Hope actually married Ms. Lamour, their child looked exactly like Mr. Crosby.
Bob Hope USO shows entertained troops for six decades and earned him the title of the USOs Ambassador of Good Will. Among the highlights:
May 6, 1941: Bob Hopes first performance for service members was at March Field, Calif.
1942: His first USO tour went to Alaska and the Aleutians.
1943: In his first combat-zone USO tour, he visited U.S. forces in North Africa, Italy and Sicily.
1948: In the first Bob Hope Christmas USO tour, Mr. Hope and his group performed for the GIs who participated in the Berlin Airlift. This became a USO tradition, with the Bob Hope Christmas USO tour visiting military bases and veterans hospitals every December for the next 34 years.
1969: President Lyndon B. Johnson bestowed the Presidential Medal of Freedom upon Mr. Hope for his service to the men and women of the Armed Forces through the USO.
Bob Hope (center), President Ronald Reagan (left) and former President Gerald Ford help celebrate the 40th anniversary of the USO in 1981. Mr. Hope was also honored for his work with the group - he made his first appearance on its behalf in 1941.
1990: Bob Hope made his final USO tour in December, visiting the troops enforcing Operation Desert Shield in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.
1997: Bob Hope was designated the first and only Honorary Veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces.
1997: The USO unveiled the Spirit of Hope Award, a portrait of Bob Hope created by sculptor Don F. Wiegand.
Source: Dallas Morning News research
He hosted the Academy Awards more than any other performer, starting in 1939, the year of Gone With the Wind. He would later win two honorary statuettes the Guinness Book of World Records dubbed him the most-decorated entertainer of all time but was never nominated for acting.
"I appreciate those two honorary Oscars, but it's not like winning one," he said. "I made two films, The Seven Little Foys and B eau James, that I hoped would get nominations."
His early box-office successes included the Road series as well as The Ghost Breakers, Louisiana Purchase, My Favorite Blonde , They Got Me Covered, The Princess and the Pirate, Monsieur Beaucaire and, among his most memorable, The Paleface, in which he introduced the hit song "Buttons and Bows."
His movie career surged in the '40s, peaked in the '50s and dissipated in the '60s. His only two smashes during those decades were 1955's The Seven Little Foys and 1966's Boy, Did I Get a Wrong Number with Phyllis Diller. Even his pet project, Beau James, a biography of flamboyant New York Mayor Jimmy Walker, was a commercial disappointment.
A big star on the big screen, he became a giant on the small one. In 1950, Newsweek predicted, "Hope may one day be to television what he already is to movies.
That, of course, turned out to be an understatement. His casual glibness traveled beautifully into the nation's living rooms. He was the first movie star to sign a long-term TV contract a move that sent shock waves through Hollywood. His home studio, Paramount, felt that he was being ungrateful by going over to the "enemy" medium and that his availability on the tube would erode his appeal onscreen. When his contract ended in 1957, the studio did not renew it.
'Thanks for the Memory'
"Thanks for the Memory" became Bob Hope's signature song with the release of his very first feature film, "The Big Broadcast of 1938."
Famed columnist Damon Runyon cited Hope's duet with Shirley Ross as a highlight of the film, writing, "What a delivery, what a song, what an audience reception!"
The song was an instant hit and won composer Ralph Rainger and lyricist Leo Robin the Academy Award for best song.
What are lyrics about a faded love -- "Thanks for the memory, of rainy afternoons, swingy Harlem tunes, motor trips and burning lips and burning toast and prunes. How lovely it was" -- doing in a Hope comedy?
The film, starring W.C. Fields, depicts a race between two ocean liners. Hope plays a master of ceremonies for shipboard entertainment. As a plot twist, all three of his fictional ex-wives happen to be on board for the Atlantic crossing.
Ross plays his most recent ex-wife, and the song caps a bittersweet look back at their failed marriage.
Robin said later that the challenge was to write a song showing that the characters accepted the reality of their divorce but had "a large residue of nostalgia and a strong mutual affection."
Another Hope film also had that year's Oscar winner for best song: the 1948 comedy "The Paleface," which featured the song "Buttons and Bows" by Ray Evans and Jay Livingston.
By that time, it didn't matter: He was one of television's titans. As far back as April 1950, he'd collected the unheard-of sum of $40,000 for his debut as host of NBC's Star-Spangled Revue, the first of 285 specials for the network. Three years later, he starred in television's first hourlong color production. And in 1975 he signed a three-year, $18 million contract with NBC. He became almost as dependable a holiday visitor as Kris Kringle.
Yet during the social unrest of the late '60s and early '70s, he received some unaccustomed criticism. Although he attempted to present a neutral public facade, he was generally perceived as a hardline Nixon man. At one point during a Vietnam tour, he was booed after presenting President Richard Nixon's war strategy. At the 1971 Miss World pageant, he became the target of demonstrators who threw tomatoes at the stage to protest "the selling of women's bodies."
The decades as an entertainer paid off: He was a shrewd businessman who invested in oil, sports and above all in real estate. A major shareholder in the San Fernando Valley, he made a fortune when residential development became a major Southern California industry. In 1978, his wealth was estimated at between $400 and $700 million.
It's typical, too, that while other stars have handprints and footprints in the forecourt of Mann's Chinese, Mr. Hope's famous "ski nose" is implanted in the Hollywood Boulevard showplace. He did things his way, even if it meant taking an unpopular stand in an unpopular war, and his individuality served him well throughout an unprecedented career.
Online at: http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dallas/nation/stories/072803dnenthope.d1d0054d.html
Rest in peace, Bob Hope !
Thanks for the memories !!
Thank you !
Great pics there. Thanks !
Search-by-Poster shows her dormant since last November.
Thanks, Mr. Hope...Thanks!
Yes, Snow Bunny always had great things to say about Bob Hope. She did work with him on his USO Tours.
Wow. Thank you ! I have saved that mp3 file so I can listen to it later. I can't wait . . .
Finally getting back here. It (RealPlayer) can't find the music clip. :O(
Rest in peace, Bob Hope.
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