Bob Hope, comedian and vaudeville actor, died July 27, 2003. He appeared on television, radio and movies, and was known for his generous humanitarian work entertaining the US military.
Hope was born May 29, 1903 in Eltham, London, England. His given name was Leslie Townes Hope, but he also used the name Lester. Hope’s family immigrated to the US on March 30, 1908 and moved to Cleveland, Ohio.
Hope began working by the age of 12. He worked odd jobs doing comedy and dancing, and he entered contests at the hopes of winning more money. He had success with his Charlie Chaplin impersonation; winning contests with his routine. He even tried boxing for money, but was more successful performing.
Fatty Arbuckle, a silent film comedian, helped Hope get steady work after seeing his performance with Hope current partner Lloyd Durbin. Shortly after, Hope switched partners to join George Byrne. They spent several years on the vaudeville circuit.
In 1934 Hope started making films in New York. He worked for Educational Pictures, followed by Vitaphone Studio until he signed with Paramount Pictures in 1938. His starring role in the film “The Big Broadcast of 1938” with W.C. Fields skyrocketed his popularity. He sang his trademark song “Thanks for the memory” in this movie and the song became a major hit.
Hope enjoyed tremendous success and stayed with Paramount for twelve years. He was a movie star, singer, and dancer, but he was best known for his comedies. He worked closely with Bing Crosby and the two were so closely associated at this time that the public could not imagine one without the other.
In 1939 Hope performed his first wartime appearance. World War II had just begun and he wanted to comfort the soldiers. He continued to volunteer his time generously to the troops throughout his career.
Hope filmed two Christmas specials, in 1970 and 1971, during wartime Vietnam in front of the military audience. By 1997 President Clinton named Hope an honorary veteran in recognition of his hard work and time spent to support US troops.
Hope loved to play golf. Apparently, his love for the game combined with his sense of humor made him a well sought after golf partner. In 1995 he partnered up with Gerald Ford, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton. It was the first time three presidents ever played golf together.
Hope was married to Grace Louise Troxell on January 25, 1933. Hope denied the marriage and married Delores Reade the following year. They adopted four children together. He was also known to have many extramarital affairs.
Hope continued to work throughout the many years of his life. At the age of 70 he was appointed an honorary Knight Commander of by Queen Elizabeth.
Hope was one of the few performers that lived to celebrate his 100th birthday. Premature obituataries were written about him a number of times, and some leaked out by mistake. On July 27, 2003 Bob Hope died at his home in Toluca Lake.