Happy birthday Bob Hope!
Bob Hope (May 29, 1903–July 27, 2003) was an English-born American performer. He appeared on Broadway, in films, on the radio, and on television throughout his life in addition to performing regularly for American military troops during several conflicts. He was the recipient of many major awards, including the Medal of the Arts, a Kennedy Center Lifetime Achievement Award, and a British knighthood.
Hope was born Leslie Townes Hope to William Henry Hope and Avis Townes in Eltham, London. The hope family immigrated in 1908 to the United States. Hope's performance career began when he was a young child, singing, dancing, and performing comedy on street cars. As he grew into a teenager, he developed an act with his girlfriend, and the two performed in vaudeville theaters.
Hope teamed up with Lloyd Durbin in a two-man dance routine, but after Durbin died of food poisoning, Hope joined up with George Byrne. The two made it to Broadway in Sidewalks of New York in 1927.
The early 1930s saw Hope gain popularity for his quick wit. He appeared in Roberta (1935), Ziegfeld Follies of 1936, and Red, Hot and Blue (1936) with Ethel Merman and Jimmy Durante. This led to a contract with NBC for the show for a weekly show called The Woodbury Soap Hour, and later The Pepsodent Show Starring Bob Hope. He would appear weekly until 1950.
In the late 1930s, Hope wanted to get into the film industry. He made his film debut in The Big Broadcast of 1938. He then starred in The Cat and the Canary (1939) and then The Road to Singapore (1940), which gave way to a host of other "Road" films including Road to Zanzibar (1941), The Road to Bali (1952), and several others. He appeared alongside the likes of Katharine Hepburn, Lucille Ball, Rosemary Clooney, Jane Russell and Elke Sommer. (source)
Hope began to do periodic television specials on NBC. The specials garnered successful ratings and went on for the next 40 years. Especially popular were his Christmas specials, including performances of the song "Silver Bells," often as a duet with a much younger female guest star.
Beginning during World War II, Hope performed regularly for the troops. He and his wife, Dolores, spent many holidays with the troops throughout many wars, including Vietnam, and later during the First Gulf War. Hope was made an honorary veteran of U.S. military service in 1997 for his efforts. Writer John Steinbeck, who at the time was working as a war correspondent, wrote of Hope, "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."
Hope was married to Dolores Reade from 1934 until his death, but it is widely known that he had affairs with other women.
Hope was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Kennedy Center in 1985, a Medal of the Arts from President Bill Clinton in 1995 and a British knighthood in 1998.
- Birthday Date: Thursday, 29 May 2014