Bob Hope celebrates 100th birthday

Bob Hope celebrates 100th birthday


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Some 35 U.S. states declare it to be Bob Hope Day on May 29, 2003, when the iconic comedic actor and entertainer turns 100 years old.

In a public ceremony held in Hollywood, city officials renamed the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Avenue–famous for its historic buildings and as a central point on the Hollywood Walk of Fame–Bob Hope Square. Several 1940s-era U.S. planes flew overhead as part of an air show honoring Hope’s longtime role as an entertainer of U.S. armed forces all over the world. Hope, who was then suffering from failing eyesight and hearing and had not been seen in public for three years, was too ill to attend the public ceremonies. Three of his children attended the naming ceremony, along with some of his younger show-business colleagues, including Mickey Rooney.

One of the leading talents on the vaudeville scene by the 1930s, the London-born, American-raised Hope met his future wife (of nearly seven decades), the nightclub singer Dolores Reade, while he was performing on Broadway in the musical Roberta. They married in 1934, and four years later Hope launched his own radio program, The Bob Hope Show, which would run for the next 18 years. One of the country’s most popular comics, Hope had a successful film career largely thanks to the series of seven “Road” movies he made with Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour, including Road to Singapore (1940), Road to Morocco (1942), Road to Utopia (1946) and Road to Rio (1947).

In 1941, after America’s entrance into World War II, Hope began performing for U.S. troops abroad; he would play shows for more than a million American servicemen by 1953. Some 65 million people watched him perform for troops in Vietnam on Christmas Eve in 1966, in his largest broadcast. Hope also became a legend for his countless TV specials, which he would perform over the course of some five decades. He hosted the Academy Awards ceremony a total of 18 times, more than any other Oscars host.

Dubbed “Mr. Entertainment” and the “King of Comedy,” Hope died on July 27, 2003, less than two months after his 100th birthday celebration. He was survived by Dolores, their four adopted children–Linda, Anthony, Nora and Kelly–and four grandchildren.


Bob Hope celebrates 100th birthday - HISTORY

Veteran entertainer Bob Hope celebrates his 100th birthday - and many years in showbusiness - on Thursday.

In June 1994, BBC reporter Chris West and I were asked to make a news feature on Bob Hope as part of the BBC's coverage of the 50th anniversary of D-Day.

Hope had entertained American GIs in Europe during World War II, and 50 years later, he was to give a show to veterans returning to Normandy on board the QE2.

In the past, Bob Hope had posed something of a problem for me.

Throughout his career, he had put on shows for American forces in various theatres of battle. I was a student during the Vietnam War, a particularly nasty conflict against which I took part in several protest marches.

Bob Hope was very gung-ho about Vietnam, and pictures of him cosying up to Richard Nixon (or maybe it was the other way round) fixed Bob Hope as a "bad guy" in my mind.

He would be the subject of many of those chemically-driven 3am student conversations about whether one should laugh at a joke delivered by somebody you did not approve of even if you found it funny.

Nevertheless, though my views on the Vietnam War have not changed, I have long since figured that, for those GIs, with an average age of 19 and being shot at by an unseen enemy in a leech-infested jungle a long way from home, a bit of cheering up by Uncle Bob was probably the least they deserved.

Accompanying Bob on his QE2 show was his wife, Dolores. We knew something about Dolores thanks to a recently published unauthorised biography written by Groucho Marx's son, Arthur.

She swept Bob off his feet when he saw her singing in a Manhattan nightclub in 1933. They have been married for nearly 70 years, one of the great Hollywood unions.

Except that Dolores had had to resign herself to her husband's seemingly endless infidelities. When he was abroad, his entertaining was not confined to the troops.

Bob Hope was now in his 90s, and long past philandering. He was completely reliant on his wife, both personally, and, as we were to discover, professionally as well.

Built like a rugby prop forward, she looked somewhat fearsome. But, as it turned out, she was delighted for her father to speak to the BBC.

Marx' autobiography told us that Linda was, in fact, the Hopes' first adopted child, Dolores being unable to conceive.

Linda had disappointed them when her marriage broke up, shocked them when she came out as a lesbian.

The interview with Bob Hope came as something of a shock to me. The poor man had difficulty finishing a single answer and Dolores had to step in continually to help him.

This was just about all right for radio for which judicious editing could close all the gaps and give meaning to his sentences. But for TV, it was a write-off.

"What do you expect of someone in his 90s?" Chris West retorted to my expression of surprise at Bob Hope's signs of ageing.

I need not have worried. As the band struck up, Bob Hope clicked into performance mode. All those decades of entertaining were bearing fruit.

Led in the singing by Dolores, and helped by an audio-visual display that used old archive film to look back on some of the highlights of his career, Bob Hope delivered his one-liners with that same deftness that had become his trademark.

And he thanked his audience for the memories, as he had done a million times before.


Contents

Hope was born in Eltham, County of London [1] (now part of the Royal Borough of Greenwich), in a terraced house on Craigton Road in Well Hall, [4] [5] where there is now a blue plaque in his memory. [6] He was the fifth of seven sons of an English father, William Henry Hope, a stonemason from Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, and a Welsh mother, Avis (née Townes), a light opera singer from Barry, Vale of Glamorgan, [7] who later worked as a cleaner. William and Avis married in April 1891 and lived at 12 Greenwood Street in Barry before moving to Whitehall, Bristol, and then to St George, Bristol. After a brief period living in Southend Road, Weston-Super-Mare, [8] in 1908, the family emigrated to the United States, sailing aboard the SS Philadelphia. They passed through Ellis Island, New York on March 30, 1908, before moving on to Cleveland, Ohio. [9]

From age 12, Hope earned pocket money by busking—public performing to solicit contributions (frequently on the streetcar to Luna Park), singing, dancing, and performing comedy. [10] He entered numerous dancing and amateur talent contests as Lester Hope, and won a prize in 1915 for his impersonation of Charlie Chaplin. [11] For a time, he attended the Boys' Industrial School in Lancaster, Ohio, and as an adult donated sizable sums of money to the institution. [12] Hope had a brief career as a boxer in 1919, fighting under the name Packy East. He had three wins and one loss, and he participated in a few staged charity bouts later in life. [13]

Hope worked as a butcher's assistant and a lineman in his teens and early 20s. He also had a brief stint at Chandler Motor Car Company. In 1921, while assisting his brother Jim in clearing trees for a power company, he was sitting atop a tree that crashed to the ground, crushing his face the accident required Hope to undergo reconstructive surgery, which contributed to his later distinctive appearance. [14]

After deciding on a show business career, Hope and his girlfriend signed up for dancing lessons. Encouraged after they performed in a three-day engagement at a club, Hope formed a partnership with Lloyd Durbin, a friend from the dancing school. [15] Silent film comedian Fatty Arbuckle saw them perform in 1925 and found them work with a touring troupe called Hurley's Jolly Follies. Within a year, Hope had formed an act called the "Dancemedians" with George Byrne and the Hilton Sisters, conjoined twins who performed a tap-dancing routine on the vaudeville circuit. Hope and Byrne also had an act as Siamese twins they sang and danced while wearing blackface until friends advised Hope he was funnier as himself. [16]

In 1929, Hope informally changed his first name to "Bob". In one version of the story, he named himself after racecar driver Bob Burman. [17] In another, he said he chose the name because he wanted a name with a "friendly 'Hiya, fellas!' sound" to it. [18] In a 1942 legal document, his legal name appears as Lester Townes Hope it is unknown if this reflects a legal name change from Leslie. [19] 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. [20]

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 mostly with NBC radio, and switched to television when that medium became popular in the 1950s. He started hosting regular TV specials in 1954, [21] and hosted the Academy Awards nineteen times from 1939 through 1977. [22] Overlapping with this was his movie career, spanning 1934 to 1972, and his USO tours, which he conducted from 1941 to 1991. [23] [24]

Film Edit

Hope signed a contract with Educational Pictures of New York for six short films. The first was a comedy, Going Spanish (1934). He was not happy with it, and told newspaper gossip columnist Walter Winchell, "When they catch [bank robber] Dillinger, they're going to make him sit through it twice." [25] Although Educational Pictures dropped his contract, he soon signed with Warner Brothers, making movies during the day and performing in Broadway shows in the evenings. [26]

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 the film as a duet with Shirley Ross, accompanied by Shep Fields and his orchestra. [27] The sentimental, fluid nature of the music allowed Hope's writers—he depended heavily upon joke writers throughout his career [28] —to later create variations of the song to fit specific circumstances, such as bidding farewell to troops while on tour or mentioning the names of towns in which he was performing. [29]

As a film star, Hope was best known for such comedies as My Favorite Brunette and the highly successful "Road" movies in which he starred with Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour. The series consists of seven films made between 1940 and 1962: Road to Singapore (1940), Road to Zanzibar (1941), Road to Morocco (1942), Road to Utopia (1946), Road to Rio (1947), Road to Bali (1952), and The Road to Hong Kong (1962). Hope had seen Lamour performing as a nightclub singer in New York, [30] and invited her to work on his United Service Organizations (USO) tours of military facilities. Lamour sometimes arrived for filming prepared with her lines, only to be baffled by completely rewritten scripts or ad lib dialogue between Hope and Crosby. [31] Hope and Lamour were lifelong friends, and she remains the actress most associated with his film career although he made movies with dozens of leading ladies, including Katharine Hepburn, Paulette Goddard, Hedy Lamarr, Lucille Ball, Rosemary Clooney, Jane Russell, and Elke Sommer. [32]

From their first meeting in 1932, Hope and Crosby teamed not only for the "Road" pictures, but for many stage, radio, and television appearances and many brief movie appearances together over the decades [33] until Crosby died in 1977. Although the two invested together in oil leases and other business ventures, worked together frequently, and lived near each other, they rarely saw each other socially. [34]

After the release of Road to Singapore (1940), Hope's screen career took off, and he had a long and successful run. After an 11-year hiatus from the "Road" genre, he and Crosby reteamed for The Road to Hong Kong (1962), starring the 28-year-old Joan Collins in place of Lamour, whom Crosby thought was too old for the part. [35] They had planned one more movie together in 1977, The Road to the Fountain of Youth, but filming was postponed when Crosby was injured in a fall, and the production was cancelled when he suddenly died of heart failure that October. [36]

Hope starred in 54 theatrical features between 1938 and 1972, [37] as well as cameos and short films. Most of his 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 critics and filmgoers panned the movie. [38] Though his career as a film star effectively ended in 1972, he did make a few cameo film appearances into the 1980s.

Hope was host of the Academy Awards ceremony 19 times between 1939 and 1977. His supposedly-feigned desire for an Oscar became part of his act. [39] While introducing the 1968 telecast, he quipped, "Welcome to the Academy Awards, or, as it's known at my house, Passover." [40] 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 presented him with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, given each year as part of the Oscars ceremony.

Broadcasting Edit

Hope's career in broadcasting began on radio in 1934. His first regular series for NBC Radio was the Woodbury Soap Hour in 1937, on 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. He 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. [41] 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 into the 1950s, when radio's popularity began being overshadowed by the upstart television medium. [42] [43]

On April 26, 1970, CBS released the television special Raquel! directed by David Winters, in which he was a guest. It starred Raquel Welch, and other guests included Tom Jones and John Wayne. [44] On the day of the premiere, the show received a 51% share on the National ARB Ratings and an impressive Overnight New York Nielsen Rating of 58% share. [45] [46]

NBC comedy specials Edit

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 often were sponsored by Frigidaire (early 1950s), General Motors (1955–61), Chrysler (1963–73), and Texaco (1975–85). [47] 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 Barbara Mandrell, Olivia Newton-John, Barbara Eden, and Brooke Shields, [48] or with his wife Dolores, a former singer 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 percent of the U.S. households watching television. [49]

The Adventures of Bob Hope Edit

Beginning in early 1950, Hope licensed rights to publish a celebrity comic book titled The Adventures of Bob Hope to National Periodical Publications, alias DC Comics. The comic, originally featuring publicity stills of Hope on the cover, was entirely made up of fictional stories, eventually including fictitious relatives, a high school taught by movie monsters, and a superhero called Super-Hip. It was published intermittently, and continued publication through issue #109 in 1969. Illustrators included Bob Oksner and (for the last four issues) Neal Adams. [ citation needed ]

USO involvement Edit

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. [50] He performed his first USO show on May 6, 1941, at March Field in California, [51] 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. [24] His USO career lasted a half-century during which he headlined 57 times. [24]

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 to entertain them. [52] However, during the highly controversial Vietnam War, Hope had trouble convincing some performers to join him on tour, but he was accompanied on at least one USO tour by Ann-Margret. Anti-war sentiment was high, and his pro-troop stance made him a target of criticism from some quarters. Some shows were drowned out by boos, others were listened to in silence. [53]

The tours were funded by the U.S. Department of Defense, Hope's television sponsors, and by NBC, the network that broadcast the television specials created after each tour from footage shot on location. However, the footage and shows were owned by Hope's own production company, which made them very lucrative ventures for him, as outlined by writer Richard Zoglin in his 2014 biography "Hope: Entertainer of the Century".

Hope sometimes recruited his own family members for USO travel. His wife, Dolores, sang from atop an armored vehicle during the Desert Storm tour, and granddaughter Miranda appeared alongside him on an aircraft carrier in the Indian Ocean. [52] Of Hope's USO shows in World War II, novelist John Steinbeck, who then was working as a war correspondent, wrote in 1943:

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. [54]

Along with his best friend Bing Crosby, Hope was offered a chance to join the military with a commission in the United States Navy as lieutenant commander during World War II, but FDR intervened, believing it would be better for troop morale if they kept doing what they were doing by playing for all branches of military service. [55]

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, the first entertainer to receive the award. [56] [57] 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." [58] In an homage to Hope, comedian/TV host Stephen Colbert carried a golf club on stage during the week of USO performances he taped for his TV show The Colbert Report during the 2009 season. [59]

Dear Bob. Bob Hope's Wartime Correspondence with the G.I.s of WW2, written by Martha Bolton (first woman staff writer for Bob Hope) and Linda Hope (eldest daughter of Bob Hope), reveals the heart of the entertainer who became a best friend to the troops.

Theater Edit

Hope's first Broadway appearances, in 1927's The Sidewalks of New York and 1928's Ups-a-Daisy, were minor walk-on parts. [60] He returned to Broadway in 1933 to star as Huckleberry Haines in the Jerome Kern / Dorothy Fields musical Roberta. [61] 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. [62] Hope reprised his role as Huck Haines in a 1958 production of Roberta at The Muny Theater in Forest Park in St. Louis, Missouri. [63]

Additionally, Hope rescued the Eltham Little Theatre in England from closure by providing funds to buy the property. He continued his interest and support, and regularly visited the facility when in London. The theater was renamed in his honor in 1982. [64]

Sports car racing Edit

During a short stint in 1960, Hope became a part owner of the Riverside International Raceway in Moreno Valley, California, along with Los Angeles Rams co-owner Ed Levy and oil tycoon Ed Pauley for $800,000 (adjusted to $6,951,567.57 in 2020) and made Les Richter President of the raceway. [65]

Later appearances Edit

Hope made a guest appearance on "The Golden Girls", season 4, episode 17 (aired February 25, 1989) called "You Gotta Have Hope" in which Rose is convinced Bob Hope is her father. In 1992, Hope made a guest appearance as himself on the animated Fox series The Simpsons in the episode "Lisa the Beauty Queen" (season 4, episode 4). [66] 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. [67] Toward the end of his career, worsening vision problems rendered him unable to read his cue cards. [68] In October 1996, he announced he was ending his 60-year contract with NBC, joking that he "decided to become a free agent". [69] 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 Hope, a frequent White House visitor over the years. [70] The special, though different from his usual specials, received high praise from Variety, [70] as well as other reviews. [71] Following a brief appearance at the 50th Primetime Emmy Awards in 1997, Hope made his last TV appearance in a 1997 commercial about the introduction of Big Kmart, directed by Penny Marshall. [72]

Hope was widely praised for his comedic timing and his specialization in the use of one-liners and rapid-fire delivery of jokes. He was known for his style of self-deprecating jokes, first building himself up and then tearing himself down. He performed hundreds of times per year. [73] Such early films as The Cat and the Canary (1939) and The Paleface (1948) were financially successful and praised by critics, [74] and by the mid-1940s, with his radio program getting good ratings as well, he was one of the most popular entertainers in the United States. [75] When Paramount threatened to stop production of the "Road" pictures in 1945, they received 75,000 letters of protest. [76]

Hope had no faith in his skills as a dramatic actor, and his performances of that type were not as well received. [77] He had been well known in radio until the late 1940s however, as his ratings began to slip in the 1950s, he switched to television and became an early pioneer of that medium. [48] [78] He published several books, notably dictating to ghostwriters about his wartime experiences. [75]

Although Hope 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, he reacted negatively, such as when he hosted the 40th Academy Awards in 1968 and voiced his contempt by mocking the show's delay because of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and condescendingly greeted attending younger actors on stage—such as Dustin Hoffman, who was 30 at the time—as children. [79] By the 1970s, his popularity was beginning to wane with military personnel and with the movie-going public in general. [80] However, he continued doing USO tours into the 1980s, [81] and continued to appear on television into the 1990s. Former First Lady Nancy Reagan, a close friend and frequent host to him at the White House, called Hope "America's most honored citizen and our favorite clown". [82]

Hope was well known as an avid golfer, playing in as many as 150 charity tournaments a year. [83] Introduced to the game in the 1930s while performing in Winnipeg, Canada, [84] 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." [85] He also was quoted as saying, "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." [86]

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 the then-two-year-old Tiger Woods in a television appearance with the actor Jimmy Stewart on The Mike Douglas Show. [87]

The Bob Hope Classic, founded in 1960, made history in 1995 when Hope teed up for the opening round in a foursome that included Presidents Gerald Ford, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton, the only time three U.S. presidents played in the same golf foursome. [88] The event, now known as the CareerBuilder Challenge, was one of the few PGA Tour tournaments that took place over five rounds, until the 2012 tournament when it was cut back to the conventional four. [89]

Hope had a heavy interest in sports beyond golf and his brief fling as a professional boxer in his youth. In 1946, he bought a small stake in the Cleveland Indians professional baseball team [90] and held it for most of the rest of his life. [91] He appeared on the June 3, 1963, cover of Sports Illustrated magazine wearing an Indians uniform, [92] and sang a special version of "Thanks for the Memory" after the Indians' last game at Cleveland Stadium on October 3, 1993. [93] He also bought a share with Bing Crosby of the Los Angeles Rams football team in 1947, but sold it in 1962. [94] He frequently used his television specials to promote the annual AP College Football All-America Team. The players would come onstage one by one and introduce themselves, then Hope, often dressed in a football uniform, would give a one-liner about the player or his school. [95]

Marriage Edit

Hope's short-lived first marriage was to vaudeville partner Grace Louise Troxell (1912–1992), a secretary from Chicago, Illinois, who was the daughter of Edward and Mary (McGinnes) Troxell. They were married on January 25, 1933, in Erie, Pennsylvania, with Alderman Eugene Alberstadt officiating. [96] [97] They divorced in November 1934. [98]

The couple had shared headliner status with Joe Howard at the Palace Theatre in April 1931, performing "Keep Smiling" and the "Antics of 1931". [99] The couple was working together at the RKO Albee, performing the "Antics of 1933" along with Ann Gillens and Johnny Peters in June of that year. [100] The following month, singer Dolores Reade joined Hope's vaudeville troupe and was performing with him at Loew's Metropolitan Theater. She was described as a "former Ziegfeld beauty and one of society's favorite nightclub entertainers, having appeared at many private social functions at New York, Palm Beach, and Southampton". [101]

His long alleged marriage to Dolores (DeFina) Reade was fraught with ambiguities. As Richard Zoglin wrote in his 2014 biography Hope: Entertainer of the Century, "Bob and Dolores always claimed that they married in February 1934 in Erie, Pennsylvania. But at that time he was secretly married to his vaudeville partner Louise Troxell, after three years together on and off. I found divorce papers for Bob and Louise dated November 1934, so either Bob Hope was a bigamist or he lied about marrying Dolores in February that year. He had actually married Louise in January 1933 in Erie when they were traveling on the vaudeville circuit. When he claimed he had married Dolores in Erie he was miles away in New York, on Broadway. More intriguing, there is no record anywhere of his marriage to Dolores, if it happened. And there are no wedding photos, either. But he never forgot Louise and quietly sent her money in her later years." [98]

Dolores had been one of Hope's co-stars on Broadway in Roberta. The couple adopted four children: Linda (in 1939), Tony (1940), Kelly (1946), and Eleanora, known as Nora (1946). [102] From them, they had several grandchildren, including Andrew, Miranda, and Zachary Hope. Tony (as Anthony J. Hope) served as a presidential appointee in the George H. W. Bush and Clinton administrations and in a variety of posts under Presidents Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan. [103] Bob and Dolores were also the legal guardians of Tracey, the youngest daughter of famous New York City bar owner Bernard "Toots" Shor and his wife, Marion "Baby" Shor.

In 1935, the couple lived in Manhattan. From 1937 until his death, Hope lived at 10346 Moorpark Street in Toluca Lake, California. [104]

Extramarital affairs Edit

Hope had a reputation as a womanizer and continued to see other women throughout his marriage. [105] As Zoglin wrote in Hope: Entertainer of the Century, "Bob Hope had affairs with chorus girls, beauty queens, singers and showbiz wannabes through his 70s he had a different girl on his arm every night. He was still having affairs into his 80s. "

As just one example among many, in 1949 while Hope was in Dallas on a publicity tour for his radio show, he met Barbara Payton, a contract player at Universal Studios, who at the time was on her own public relations jaunt. Shortly thereafter, Hope set up Payton in an apartment in Hollywood. [106] The arrangement soured as Hope was not able to satisfy Payton's definition of generosity and her need for attention. [107] Hope paid her off to end the affair quietly. Payton later revealed the affair in an article printed in July 1956 in the tell-all magazine Confidential. [108] "Hope was . at times a mean-spirited individual with the ability to respond with a ruthless vengeance when sufficiently provoked." [109] His advisors counseled him to avoid further publicity by ignoring the Confidential exposé. [109] "Barbara's . revelations caused a minor ripple . and then quickly sank without causing any appreciable damage to Bob Hope's legendary career." [109]

According to Arthur Marx's 1993 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". [110]

Rosemarie Frankland was a beauty queen (Miss World 1961) who according to Richard Zoglin's book "Hope: Entertainer of the Century" took part in a 30-year affair with Hope. He said she was "the great love of his life". [111]

Hope's infidelities are a part of the plot of the 2020 film Misbehaviour, which follows the Women's Liberation protests at the Miss World 1970 competition that Hope hosted Greg Kinnear plays Hope. [112]

Vision philanthropy Edit

Hope, who suffered from vision problems for much of his adult life, served as an active honorary chairman on the board of Fight for Sight, a nonprofit organization in the United States which funds medical research in vision and ophthalmology. He hosted its Lights On telecast in 1960 and donated $100,000 to establish the Bob Hope Fight for Sight Fund. [113] Hope recruited numerous top celebrities for the annual "Lights On" fundraiser. As an example, he hosted boxing champion Joe Frazier, actress Yvonne De Carlo, and singer-actor Sergio Franchi as headliners for the April 25, 1971, show at Philharmonic Hall in Milwaukee. [114]

Hope continued an active entertainment career past his 75th birthday, concentrating on his television specials and USO tours.

Although he had given up starring in feature films after Cancel My Reservation, he made several cameos in various films and co-starred with Don Ameche in the 1986 TV movie A Masterpiece of Murder. [115] A television special created for his 80th birthday in 1983 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., featured President Ronald Reagan, actress Lucille Ball, comedian-actor-writer George Burns (a fellow centenarian), and many others. [116] In 1985 he was presented with the Life Achievement Award at the Kennedy Center Honors, [117] and in 1998 he was appointed an honorary Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (KBE) by Queen Elizabeth II. Upon accepting the appointment, Hope quipped, "I'm speechless. 70 years of ad lib material and I'm speechless." [118]

In July 1997 at age 94, he attended the funeral of Jimmy Stewart, where many pointed out his frail appearance. [119] At the age of 95, Hope made an appearance at the 50th anniversary of the Primetime Emmy Awards with Milton Berle and Sid Caesar. Contemporaries Fay Wray and Gloria Stuart were also present. [120] 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". [121] [122] He last made an appearance at the Hope Classic in 2000, where he hugged Swedish golfer Jesper Parnevik. [123]

Hope celebrated his 100th birthday on May 29, 2003. [124] 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." [125]

Hope converted to Catholicism seven years before his death. [126] [127]

In 1998, five years before his death, a prepared obituary written by the Associated Press was inadvertently released, resulting in Hope's death being announced on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. [128] [129] However, Hope remained in relatively good health until late in his old age, though he became somewhat frail in his last few years. [130] In June 2000 at age 97, he spent nearly a week in a California hospital being treated for gastrointestinal bleeding. [131] In August 2001 at age 98, he spent close to two weeks in a hospital recovering from pneumonia. [132]

On the morning of July 27, 2003, Hope died of pneumonia at the age of 100 at his home in Toluca Lake, California 2 months after his 100th birthday. [125] His grandson Zach Hope told TV interviewer Soledad O'Brien that, when asked on his deathbed where he wanted to be buried, Hope told his wife, Dolores, "Surprise me." [133] His remains were temporarily placed in a mausoleum vault before the construction of the Bob Hope Memorial Garden at San Fernando Mission Cemetery in Los Angeles, joined in 2011 by Dolores when she died four months after her 102nd birthday. [134] [135] After his death, newspaper cartoonists worldwide paid tribute to his work for the USO, and some featured drawings of Bing Crosby, who had died in 1977, welcoming Hope to Heaven. [136]

Hope's Modernist 23,366-square-foot (2,171 m 2 ) home, built to resemble a volcano, was designed in 1973 by John Lautner. It is located above Palm Springs, with panoramic views of the Coachella Valley and the San Jacinto Mountains. It was put on the market for the first time in February 2013 with an asking price of $50 million. [137] Hope also owned a home which had been custom built for him in 1939 on an 87,000-square-foot (8,083 m 2 ) lot in Toluca Lake. That house was put on the market in late 2012. [138] His house at 2466 Southridge Drive in Palm Springs, California, sold in November 2016 for $13 million to investor Ron Burkle, far below its 2013 asking price of $50 million. [139]

On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed Bob Hope among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire. [140]

Hope was awarded more than 2,000 honors and awards, including 54 honorary university doctorates. In 1963 President John F. Kennedy awarded him the Congressional Gold Medal for service to his country. [141] President Lyndon Johnson bestowed the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1969 for his service to the armed forces through the USO. [142] In 1982 he received the S. Roger Horchow Award for Greatest Public Service by a Private Citizen, an honor given annually by Jefferson Awards. [143] He was presented with the National Medal of Arts in 1995 [144] and received the Ronald Reagan Freedom Award in 1997. [145] On June 10, 1980, he became the 64th—and only civilian—recipient of the United States Air Force Order of the Sword which recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to the enlisted corps. [146]

Several buildings and facilities were renamed for Hope, including the historic Fox Theater in downtown Stockton, California, [147] and the Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, California. [148] There is a Bob Hope Gallery at the Library of Congress. [149] 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, D.C., a chapel called the Chapel of Our Lady of Hope. [150] USNS Bob Hope (T-AKR-300) of the U.S. Military Sealift Command was named for the performer in 1997. It is one of very few U.S. naval ships that were named after living people. [151] The Air Force named a C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft the Spirit of Bob Hope. [152]

In 1965, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.) degree from Whittier College. [153]

In 1978, Hope was invited to dot the "i" in the Ohio State University Marching Band's "Script Ohio" formation, an honor only given to non-band members on 14 occasions from 1936 through 2016. [154] The New York Times, 5–8–79, p. C 7, stated that Woody Allen wrote and narrated a documentary honoring him, My Favorite Comedian, shown at Lincoln Center. In Hope's hometown of Cleveland, the refurbished Lorain-Carnegie Bridge was renamed the Hope Memorial Bridge in 1983, though differing claims have been made as to whether the bridge honors Hope himself, his entire family, or his stonemason father who helped in the bridge's construction. Also, East 14th Street near Playhouse Square in Cleveland's theater district was renamed Memory Lane-Bob Hope Way in 2003 in honor of the entertainer's 100th birthday. [155]

In 1992, Hope was honored with the "Lombardi Award of Excellence" from the Vince Lombardi Cancer Foundation. The award was created to honor the football coach's legacy, and is awarded annually to an individual who exemplifies his spirit. He was also inducted into Omicron Delta Kappa, the National Leadership Honor Society, in 1992 at Ferris State University. On May 28, 2003, President George W. Bush established the Bob Hope American Patriot Award. [156]

Academy Awards Edit

Although he was never nominated for a competitive Oscar, Hope was given five honorary awards by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences: [157]


May 29 2003 Bob Hope celebrates 100th birthday

On May 29th 2003, 35 U.S. states declared it to be Bob Hope Day, when the iconic comedic actor and entertainer turned 100 years old.

In a public ceremony held in Hollywood, city officials renamed the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Avenue–famous for its historic buildings and as a central point on the Hollywood Walk of Fame–Bob Hope Square. Several 1940s-era U.S. planes flew overhead as part of an air show honouring Hope’s longtime role as an entertainer of U.S. armed forces all over the world. Hope, who was then suffering from failing eyesight and hearing and had not been seen in public for three years, was too ill to attend the public ceremonies. Three of his children attended the naming ceremony, along with some of his younger show-business colleagues, including Mickey Rooney.

One of the leading talents on the vaudeville scene by the 1930s, the London-born, American-raised Hope met his future wife (of nearly seven decades), the nightclub singer Dolores Reade, while he was performing on Broadway in the musical Roberta. They married in 1934, and four years later Hope launched his own radio program, The Bob Hope Show, which would run for the next 18 years. One of the country’s most popular comics, Hope had a successful film career largely thanks to the series of seven “Road” movies he made with Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour, including Road to Singapore (1940), Road to Morocco (1942), Road to Utopia (1946) and Road to Rio (1947).

In 1941, after America’s entrance into World War II, Hope began performing for U.S. troops abroad he would play shows for more than a million American servicemen by 1953. Some 65 million people watched him perform for troops in Vietnam on Christmas Eve in 1966, in his largest broadcast. Hope also became a legend for his countless TV specials, which he would perform over the course of some five decades. He hosted the Academy Awards ceremony a total of 18 times, more than any other Oscars host.

Dubbed “Mr. Entertainment” and the “King of Comedy,” Hope died on July 27, 2003, less than two months after his 100th birthday celebration. He was survived by Dolores, their four adopted children–Linda, Anthony, Nora and Kelly–and four grandchildren.


Bob Hope's 100th Birthday Celebrated in Hollywood

The legendary entertainer Bob Hope turned 100 Thursday, and friends and fans celebrated the milestone.

At the Reagan presidential library, school children wished Bob Hope a happy birthday.

Los Angeles officials have renamed the famous corner of Hollywood and Vine, now calling it Bob Hope Square. Hollywood's honorary mayor Johnny Grant came up with the idea and suggested it to the Los Angeles city council. "It was a unanimous vote, but what politician could vote against Bob Hope?"

Actor Mickey Rooney was one of the comic's many friends who attended the celebration in Hollywood. "Happy birthday, Bob, and [best wishes] to his lovely wife, Dolores," he said.

Bob Hope was too frail to attend, but his wife, Dolores, now 94, was there. So were their three children, including daughter Linda. "He's overwhelmed, as we all are by all of this because everyone from the Queen of England to GIs that saw him during the second world war. We've gotten cards and letters. It's just been extraordinary," she said.

Congratulations came from the famous, like Henry Kissinger, and from ordinary people. Some were among the thousands of former troops, once stationed far from home, who remember getting a lift from the comedian's visits.

Beginning in World World II and continuing through the Gulf war, Bob Hope entertained the troops, bringing a few laughs and a bevy of beautiful starlets.

VOA engineer Rick McCleaf was a young soldier stationed in South Korea in 1962. Getting word that Bob Hope was coming, he traveled over dusty roads for an hour to reach the show. "It was all in the dirt, but we had a good view. And his entire entourage come up on stage, with some pretty girls, and plenty of jokes and laughter," he says. "The show was great. It was a nice break from the regular activity."

For his six decades of entertaining the troops, the U.S. Congress named Bob Hope an honorary veteran in 1997. The British-born entertainer is the only person ever granted the honor.

From his start on the vaudeville stage to his famous "road" pictures with singer Bing Crosby, Bob Hope became a fixture on the Hollywood movie screen, and on radio and television, becoming a favorite with successive generations.

His longtime publicist, Ward Grant, says, for the comic and his fans, this birthday was a special celebration. "This is the celebrating of a remarkable life, a remarkable man, a remarkable career," he says. "And a man who has enjoyed every single minute of it."


Bob Hope to Celebrate a Quiet 100th

One hundred years ago — Thursday, to be exact — Bob Hope was born, under the name Leslie Townes Hope.

In school he was called Les Hope — which the kids teased him about (say the name slowly) — and as he began his professional career, the boy born in England but raised since age 4 in Cleveland, where his stonemason father had resettled the family, called himself Packy East. That’s because the youngster had tried to become a professional fighter.

But when he turned to comedy in vaudeville, the young comer thought 𠇋ob” Hope sounded the friendliest.

And so, the world’s oldest living funnyman was launched, and he will spend his historic natal day with his loving wife of nearly 70 years, Dolores — who turned 94 on Tuesday — at his side on their 7-acre estate in North Hollywood.

It will be a quiet celebration, though last Thursday the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., paid tribute to the star of stage, screen, radio, TV and battlefields with a special song-and-dance revue, which was attended by three of Bob and Dolores’s children.

Over Memorial Day weekend there was another honor paid Hope aboard the aircraft carrier Intrepid in New York City, Hope’s longtime publicist, Ward Grant, tells PEOPLE.com. Additional recognition is expected on Thursday from city, state and even the federal government.

Speaking to the Associated Press, elder daughter Linda Hope, 63, who produced the recent two-hour NBC tribute to her father, said, “We’re going to have kind of a quiet family birthday celebration because Dad’s pretty much confined to his room to the house. So the family will be coming in.

“In fact, that’s enough. It’s a pretty big group when you get spouses and the families. We’re going to have a celebration at home with a huge cake.”

As for her father’s physical condition, she said, “He has days when he is good and is on top of things very much like the dad that I remember. And other days when he is kind of quiet and keeps to himself.”

And the legendary sense of humor?

“He doesn’t really tell jokes anymore. But he loves to hear a good joke,” she said. “His face lights up. He still has that. Somebody will say something, and then he’ll say something that makes it into a joke. It’s very much a part of him.”


World War II veteran celebrates 100th birthday

Air Force ROTC cadets salute Yolanda ‘Tipi’ Minnehan at her 100th birthday Dec. 23 in Fairborn. Minnehan served in the Army during World War II and was a longtime volunteer at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO/R.J. ORIEZ

In 1942, Yolanda ‘Tipi’ Minnehan managed to join the first class of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps in Fort Des Moines, Iowa, although underweight and too short. The WAACs later became the Women’s Army Corps, where Tipi served as a supply officer until 1947. COURTESY PHOTO

During World War II, Yolanda ‘Tipi’ Minnehan was part of the New York City Air Warning Service as a spotter. COURTESY PHOTO

Well-wishers hold up signs Dec. 23 wishing Yolanda ‘Tipi’ Minnehan a happy 100th birthday. Friends and family, in a long line of cars, drove past the World War II Army veteran’s residence in Fairborn to safely pay tribute. U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO/R.J. ORIEZ

Yolanda ‘Tipi’ Minnehan greets well-wishers during a parade held in honor of her 100th birthday Dec. 23. Friends and family, in a long line of cars, drove past the World War II Army veteran’s residence in Fairborn to safely pay tribute. U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO/R.J. ORIEZ

A local legend turned a century old recently, and the community was there to celebrate.

Sitting on a bench outside her residence in Fairborn on a chilly day, Yolanda “Tipi” Minnehan is surrounded by old World War II photos of herself during her time in the Army. There are bright red balloons in the shape of “100,” American flags, a pink flower arrangement and an abundance of “Happy birthday” posters.

Car horns honked as numerous friends, family and various well-wishers celebrated Minnehan’s 100th birthday with a drive-by parade Dec. 23. Air Force ROTC cadets saluted Tipi for her service and others held decorated signs and posters outside their cars while waving at her from a safe distance.

Minnehan was born Yolanda Trapani in Verona, Italy, in 1920. Her father was a carabinieri, or policeman, who was stationed at different locations around Italy before being assigned in Sicily, where he met and married her mother.

When Minnehan was 4, the family immigrated to America through Ellis Island and she grew up on Manhattan’s East Side. It wasn’t until she attended school that she learned English.

In 1942, she managed to join the first class of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps in Fort Des Moines, Iowa, although underweight and too short. The WAACs later became the Women’s Army Corps, where Tipi served as a supply officer until 1947.

“I was part of the New York City Air Warning Service as a spotter,” she said. “Our building was at 32nd or 33rd in NYC . near Macy’s when the Army took over the NYC civilian outfit of the Air Warning Service. I wanted to serve this country as a ‘thank you’ for welcoming my family. Joining the Army was the best thing I could do for this country in times of need.”

Minnehan said she had many memorable moments in uniform but was most proud to be a woman in charge of a depot.

“Being a female in charge of a depot was a big deal,” she added. “I was one of three officers and the one in charge. I used to make the rounds and make sure that the workers were working and not goofing and put discipline at work.”

One day, another lieutenant made the rounds instead and rattled a group of men inside, Minnehan recalled. It turned into a case of mistaken identity.

“They stood up and when they saw that it was Lt. Wright, they sat down and said, ‘Oh it’s you,’” she said. “The lieutenant asked them what they meant, and they said: ‘We are scared of the Army lady and we thought you were her.’

“The LT was upset because they did not think much of him and were afraid of me, a woman.”

Following WWII, while stationed at Brookley Field in Mobile, Alabama, Tipi met a young logistics officer named Barney Minnehan.

“The war was ending and the men were coming by ship from Europe and he landed in Mobile, where I was in charge of the O1 branch depot of Air Material Command,” she said. “It was a Sunday and everything on base was closed. I met him at a brunch and sat by him and was looking over to read the name on his bracelet. In those days, we did not have name badges on our uniforms as we do today.”

They eventually married and raised three children while Barney continued his military career. Living on various bases, the family was eventually assigned to Wright-Patterson AFB and Fairborn in 1966.

Barney retired from the Air Force in 1968 as a colonel after 29 years of service and worked at University of Dayton until 1982. He passed away Sept. 2, 1995.

Minnehan never forgot her roots. She wanted to make sure her children and grandchildren knew their heritage, so she took them back to Italy over a dozen times.

Typically, a three-week trip would include train travel from Rome to Verona, Venice, Naples and Sicily. She wanted her children to make memories and build family ties that would last a lifetime.

Friends of Tipi say her hospitality doesn’t stop with her own family and she frequently invited people to spend holidays at her home, as opposed to being alone.

“She is a very well-known person at the base chapels and in the civilian community here,” said Inma Kusnierek, a longtime friend in the local area. “Whether on active duty or as a military spouse, Tipi has always found time to volunteer in big ways.”

Minnehan said volunteering is “part of who I am.”

“I’m a big believer in volunteering if you don’t need the money,” she said. “If we volunteer, we’ll have a better community. I want to help the people that need help and to make sure they are not taken advantage of.

“During the Vietnam War, the military personnel left and went to war, volunteers were needed and I made sure as the manager of Red Cross volunteers that the positions were filled and we were helping in any way we could. Don’t sit at home and watch TV, go out and help.”

Minnehan helped young people stationed at Wright-Patterson develop friendships by sponsoring a singles group at the base chapel. As part of exchanges, high school students and Italian officers attending the Air Force Institute of Technology also experienced her hospitality.

She served as volunteer coordinator at Wright-Patterson Medical Center and founded a decades-old tradition of serving luncheons every Wednesday during the Lenten season at Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish on base.

After WWII, she volunteered to help lepers in the Philippines. On Okinawa, she entertained the troops by putting on plays and making costumes. While in Hawaii, she got Bob Hope to perform for service members.

In Washington in 1948, Minnehan helped found the Arlington Ladies with Gladys Vandenberg. The group’s mission is to ensure no Airman gets buried alone at Arlington National Cemetery without family and friends to honor them, as they had witnessed far too often. It took until 2016, but all service branches now have their own Arlington Ladies.

Within the Officers’ Wives’ (now Spouses’) Club at WPAFB, she set up elaborate teas and programs during her time on the board. She was among the founding members of Gold Bricks and the International Spouses’ Group, representing the Italian table every year at the International Fair.

Minnehan is fondly called a “walking encyclopedia” on WAC and WWII history. She has been a guest in many classrooms, sharing stories of her life experiences.

Until a few years ago, she continued to take writing courses at Sinclair Community College to improve her skills and record memories.

Minnehan donated her 1942 Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps uniform artifacts (service jacket, skirt, scarf and tie) to the Air Force Museum in 1975. Two years ago, the museum held a private viewing of those artifacts for family, friends and staff.

As Tipi celebrated her 100th birthday, she shared a final reflection.

“Life is what you make of it,” she said. “Always do the best you can in everything you do, and never forget to help your country and countrymen to make a better tomorrow.”


Not all Vietnam War memories are sad

Like many who served in Vietnam, William Dimattia was also drafted. He served as a surgeon for the US Army Medical Corps in 1967. His service mainly consisted of providing medical care to his assigned Special Forces as well as the nearby Vietnam hospital outside of Saigon. Dimattia was the only physician there. While he took care of American troops, most of his patients were Vietnamese people who lived in the area. He actually has some happy memories from his time in Vietnam, as he repaired a lot of cleft lips for Vietnamese children. He said it turned their frowns into smiles.


From the Archives: Bob Hope, the master of the one-liner, dies at 100

Bob Hope, the elder statesman of comedy whose extraordinary career spanned vaudeville, Broadway, radio, television, movies, books and makeshift concert platforms in war zones, has died. He was 100. Hope died at 9:28 p.m. Sunday at his home in Toluca Lake of complications from pneumonia, his publicist, Ward Grant, announced Monday. His wife, Dolores, and other members of his family were at his bedside when he died.

An increasingly frail Hope marked his 100th birthday quietly on May 29 with well-wishing from the famous and not so famous from around the globe. Hope’s home was inundated with birthday cards and flowers. An intimate party attended by close family members was held with cake and a 100-candle celebration.

President Bush led the nation in mourning Monday for the beloved comedian, saying, “The nation has lost a great citizen.”

“Bob Hope served our nation when he went to battlefields to entertain thousands of troops from different generations,” the president told reporters before boarding Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base. “We extend our prayers to his family. God bless his soul.”

Bush also issued a proclamation ordering all U.S. flags on government buildings lowered to half-staff on the day of Hope’s funeral.

One of the world’s most enduring comedians, “Rapid Robert” outlasted hundreds of briefly popular political satirists, social-comment comics and television sitcom stars who flared and faded.

From his early days in radio to the television specials that would endear him to subsequent generations, Hope became synonymous with the comedy monologue, striving to be topical but not offensive, cocksure but not arrogant.

“He possessed all the gifts I, and all other comedians, could ever ask for or want,” “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno said in a statement Monday: “impeccable comic timing, an encyclopedic memory of jokes, and an effortless ability with quips. His monologues — which were always so topical — had an enormous influence on me. In fact, they established the paradigm for me, and for all of us in this business. We are all blessed to have had him as our standard-bearer.”

With his wisecracking manner and trademark sneer, Hope was the quintessential populist comedian, his humor fueled by the legions of joke writers for whom he was a tough boss.

“He had such a strong comic persona that all the writers got to know it,” said Gene Perret, who began writing jokes for Hope in 1969. “It was a confidence that bordered on arrogance. Hope could always boast about himself, but it [would] normally turn itself around where he’s the brunt of the joke.”

“If they had coed dorms when I went to school, you know what I’d be today?” Hope once quipped. “A sophomore.”

Presidents, too, were a favorite target of his humor, including Gerald R. Ford, a golfing buddy known for his erratic play. Hope once joked that there were “86 golf courses in Palm Springs, and Jerry Ford never knows which one he’s going to play until his second shot.”

Hope was a friend of, and honored by, presidents for more than 50 years starting with Franklin D. Roosevelt, and he was an acquaintance and occasional golf partner of celebrities around the globe.

His face was known to millions of Americans spanning three generations, perhaps especially those who served in the military during World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars.

The comedian began entertaining servicemen and women at U.S. bases in 1941—starting at California’s March Field near Riverside — and in 1948 began annual Christmas shows at American bases overseas.

Hope was never a member of the military. But on Oct. 29, 1997, when he was 94, he became the first American designated by Congress as an “honorary veteran of the United States Armed Forces.”

Hope appeared for the presentation in the Capitol Rotunda looking, as one observer noted, “as fragile as a sparrow’s egg.” Many thought his visit to the Capitol would be the increasingly deaf and weak comedian’s final public appearance.

And it was just eight months later that he was mourned on the floor of the House of Representatives. Then-Rep. Bob Stump (R-Ariz.), working from an erroneous release of a prewritten Associated Press obituary on the Internet, rose to announce that Hope had died. Tributes to the comedian followed from other congressmen, but at his home, Hope was having the last laugh.

“They were wrong, weren’t they?” Hope told friends who called to offer condolences to his family.

Half a Century of Entertaining Troops

His shows for the troops — with an entourage of other comics, singers, dancers and pretty girls — lasted for half a century, often not far from the fighting, earning Hope praise for his patriotic efforts and criticism for his hawkish stance during the Vietnam War.

He once said — either exaggerating for effect or on the level — that he had traveled almost 10 million air miles entertaining American service personnel around the world. He ended his regular Christmas shows in 1972 during the difficult days of the Vietnam War.

The hiatus lasted 11 years. In 1983, at 80, Hope once more hit the road, this time traveling to Lebanon, where a peacekeeping force of U.S. Marines and ships of the 6th Fleet had gathered to attempt, without success, to stem the internal bloodshed in Beirut.

The comedian entertained first aboard the naval ships off the coast and then, to everyone’s surprise, went ashore to give the Marines his special brand of humor. He got out a scant 30 minutes before the compound at which he appeared came under shell fire.

“If this is peace,” Hope asked the cheering troops, “aren’t you glad you’re not in a war? I was told not to fraternize with the enemy, and I won’t . as soon as I figure out who it is.”

In 1990, the octogenarian Hope was in the Middle East cheering troops in Operation Desert Shield and then Operation Desert Storm, the first U.S.-led campaigns against Saddam Hussein.

Queen Elizabeth II recognized the native Briton’s entertainment of British troops during World War II by granting him a knighthood. His official title was Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.

“Seventy years of ad lib material and I am speechless,” Hope said from his Palm Springs home when the knighthood was announced by British Prime Minister Tony Blair during an official visit to Washington in February 1998. The knighthood was officially presented at the British Embassy in Washington on May 17, 1998, shortly before Hope’s 95th birthday.

Periodic charges, especially during the turbulent 1960s, that he was a “war lover” stung Hope, and he once fired back in uncharacteristic public anger: “How can anyone who has seen war, who has seen our young men die, who has seen them in hospitals, possibly love war? War stinks!”

Even after the wars ended, Hope continued visiting veterans hospitals, as if to underscore his concern for those who served in the American military.

He also continued a hectic pace of personal appearances across the United States, often booked a year in advance at colleges, universities, conventions and charity shows.

Donated and Raised Millions of Dollars

His own contributions to charities, either donated through the Dolores and Bob Hope Foundation or raised through free performances, amounted to millions of dollars. He donated 80 acres for the Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, and raised money over the years for its expansion and operation.

Dolores Hope, whom he married in 1934, managed their donations, and even she declined to estimate how many millions her husband had given or raised for charity. But she did say most of it involved young people—in hospitals or colleges and universities.

The multimillionaire (Hope’s fortune has been estimated at as much as $500 million) had oil wells in Texas, was once part-owner of the Cleveland Indians baseball team and had a variety of other business ventures under Bob Hope Enterprises. But most of his money was in property.

He was thought to have owned about 8,500 acres in California, most of it in the San Fernando Valley, bought when it was fruit orchards and vacant lots.

By his own estimate, he was one of the largest individual property owners, if not the largest, in the Golden State.

He was able to reach that status, he said, when he and crony Bing Crosby — neither of whom knew anything about oil wells — invested in one in 1949 that produced oil.

“It was a fluke,” he said once, “but a good one. I took the money and bought land.”

He disliked talking about his wealth. Once, just before a tour of Vietnam, he was asked if it was true that he was worth $50 million. Hope snapped back, “If I had $50 million, I wouldn’t go to Vietnam I’d send for it.”

He was born Leslie Townes Hope on May 29, 1903, in Eltham, England, the son of stonemason William Henry Hope and Avis Townes Hope, a former concert singer.

He was the fifth of seven brothers, and when he was 4 his family moved to Cleveland, where he attended grade school. (“I was an all-around student. I flunked everything.”) He became a U.S. citizen in 1920. After high school, Hope tried various jobs — including boxing under the name Packy East — and then began dance lessons. He was a natural.

At 19, he was teaching dance classes, and two years later he was booked by Fatty Arbuckle into a show called “Hurley’s Jolly Follies.” It was the beginning.

Hope sang, danced, did comedy bits and doubled on the saxophone, an experience, he reminisced years later, that gave him the poise that was his trademark in stand-up comedy.

From “Follies,” he went on to vaudeville in Detroit and then to a part in the show “The Sidewalks of New York.” After it folded in 1927, Hope, until then not a soloist or comedy specialist, discovered that he was both.

He had a dance act with partner George Byrne, and they were doing a vaudeville show in New Castle, Ind. Hope was asked to introduce the next week’s act, a Scot named Marshall Walker, and he did so with humor.

“I know Marshall well. He saves everything. He got married in his backyard so the chickens would get the rice. He had a sunstroke playing golf and counted it.”

The audience loved it, and Hope became a solo act. He went back to Cleveland for a year to develop the comedy style that varied little over the years — topical one-liners fired with a pixie leer — and then tried to sell it in Chicago.

Hard Times for Struggling Performer

They weren’t easy times. He lived mostly on coffee and doughnuts and once got by on a nickel’s worth of beans a day for four weeks, an experience he recalled later when he was making up to $50,000 for an hour’s performance.

“I was in debt and had holes in my shoes,” he said. “When a friend bought me a steak, I’d forgotten whether to cut it with a knife or drink it from a glass.”

Finally, through a friend, Hope was booked into Chicago’s Stratford Theatre for three days—a booking that stretched into six months. He was a smash.

From there, it was back to New York and Broadway. There was “Ballyhoo” in 1932, but the show that ultimately put Hope on the trail to international stardom was Jerome Kern and Otto Harbach’s “Roberta” the next year.

Then he was invited to appear on “The Rudy Vallee Show,” a radio network variety program, and that was followed by other guest appearances even as Hope performed on Broadway in “Ziegfeld Follies of 1936,” in which he introduced the standard “I Can’t Get Started,” and “Red, Hot and Blue!” in which he and Ethel Merman sang “It’s De-Lovely.”

He appeared in “Smiles” in 1938.

That was Hope’s breakout year. Pepsodent gave him his own radio show, which began his six-decade association with NBC, and he made his feature film debut in “The Big Broadcast of 1938.”

“Big Broadcast” more than anything else elevated the comedian to stardom and gave him his theme song, the Academy Award-winning “Thanks for the Memory,” which he had sung in the movie.

He really hit his stride in movies with 1939’s horror comedy “The Cat and the Canary.”

“I turned into box office,” Hope told The Times in 1991. “When ‘Cat and Canary’ came out, [people] started running into the theaters. Then Paramount came to my dressing room with a contract for seven years. So I signed for seven years.”

Hope kept the NBC radio show for 18 years, and his guest stars read like a who’s who of the entertainment world: Al Jolson, Jimmy Durante, Eddie Cantor, Tallulah Bankhead, Bette Davis, Red Skelton, Fibber McGee and Molly, Lum and Abner, Amos and Andy.

A Lasting Friendship With Bing Crosby

He met Crosby playing golf, a game both loved almost as much as entertaining, and invited him to appear on his radio show.

A lasting friendship grew, barbed in public and warm in private. Crosby gave Hope the name “Ski Snoot,” and Hope liked to needle Crosby about his wealth by saying, “Bing doesn’t pay income tax. He just calls the government and says, ‘How much do you boys need?’ ”

They turned their mock feuds and personal friendship into a winning combination in seven road films, beginning in 1940 with “Road to Singapore” and ending in 1962 with “Road to Hong Kong.”

In all of the “Road” films, they played two carefree buddies out to make it big but invariably running into trouble. Always along for the fun was actress Dorothy Lamour, who played the object of their affections. The best-loved of the series was 1942’s “Road to Morocco.”

Hope was devastated when Crosby died of a massive heart attack while playing golf in Spain in October 1977 and, for one of the few times in his career, canceled a performance.

Hope made 58 movies in all, including such classics as “The Ghost Breakers,” “The Paleface,” “Monsieur Beaucaire” and “Fancy Pants.” He even went dramatic with good results as Eddie Foy Sr. in 1955’s “The Seven Little Foys” and as the colorful New York mayor Jimmy Walker in 1957’s “Beau James.”

He made several films with good friend Lucille Ball, including 1949’s “Sorrowful Jones,” 1950’s “Fancy Pants,” 1963’s “Critic’s Choice” and 1960’s “The Facts of Life,” which was nominated for several Oscars.

Although he never won an Oscar for acting (“At home, we think of Oscar week as Passover”), he was honored four times by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for his contributions to the world of entertainment. He also received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 1959. He began emceeing the Oscars in 1940, and for years hosted the televised Academy Award presentations, opening his first in 1953 with the line “Television. That’s where movies go when they die.” His final turn hosting the program came in 1978, the 50th anniversary of the awards. In all, he hosted or co-hosted the Academy Award show 18 times.

“Maybe Bob never won a competitive Oscar, but he won the hearts of the members of the Academy, the governors of the Academy and the hundreds of millions who watched the Academy Awards presentations,” Frank Pierson, the president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, said in a statement Monday.

Hope began his television career on Easter in 1950. He had a weekly program from 1955 to 1964, and hosted 285 highly rated specials. He made guest appearances on many other shows.

“Bob Hope: The First 90 Years,” his three-hour birthday special in 1993, included Johnny Carson in his first public appearance since retiring from “The Tonight Show” and featured one of the last hurrahs for George Burns, who died in 1996 at the age of 100. Hope still had the power to pull 25% of the nation’s Friday night TV audience, and the show won the Emmy for outstanding special.

In ads after his final special in 1996, “Bob Hope . Laughing With the Presidents,” he formally and amicably ended his association with NBC, declaring himself “a free agent.”

Was Author or Coauthor of 10 Books

In addition to his screen career, 10 books of humor or autobiography were either written or co-written under Hope’s name.

His first book, “They Got Me Covered,” was designed as a marketing tool for Pepsodent, which was then the sponsor of Hope’s radio program, and Paramount Pictures. The cost of the 95-page paperback was 10 cents and a box top from a tube of Pepsodent, which paid for the book’s printing. Paramount helped promote it to tie in with the Hope movie “Nothing but the Truth,” which was just being released.

The book sold 3 million copies.

While he was building a career, Hope was also busy raising a family. He had married singer Dolores Reade while he was appearing in “Roberta” on Broadway. She survives him as do their four children, sons Anthony and Kelly, daughter Linda Hope and Nora Somers, and four grandchildren.

Funeral services will be private for immediate family members only. Public memorial services are being planned.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that masses or donations be made to the Bob and Dolores Hope Charitable Foundation, Toluca Lake, Calif. 91602.

Homes at Toluca Lake and Palm Springs

He moved to Toluca Lake in 1938 and maintained his home and office on the six-acre site, although in 1979 he also built a multimillion-dollar estate in Palm Springs.

Until his final years, Hope was almost constantly on the road, playing shows and benefits in the United States and on military bases in far-flung corners of the Earth. He gave five command performances in London and two shows in the Soviet Union. “I appreciated the Russians’ 21-gun salute,” he said. “I just wished they’d waited until the plane had landed.”

He televised one show from China and marveled: “They have 900 million people, and none of them know who I am.”

Honors were heaped on Hope throughout his career. The Guinness Book of World Records cited him as the most honored and publicly praised entertainer in history, with more than 2,000 awards.

Among his citations were a Medal of Merit from President Dwight D. Eisenhower, a Congressional Gold Medal from President John F. Kennedy (he was only the third civilian to be so honored), the Medal of Freedom from President Lyndon B. Johnson, the National Medal of the Arts from President Bill Clinton, the George C. Marshall Award, the Navy’s Distinguished Service Medal and the Distinguished Public Service Medal of the U.S. Department of Defense, the highest award the military can bestow on a civilian. The Air Force named a C-17 transport jet for him. And in 1998 he was awarded a papal knighthood by Pope John Paul II.

Schools, streets and plazas have been dedicated in Hope’s honor. In addition to the honorary Oscars and the Emmy, he won radio’s Peabody Award and in 1975 was initiated into the Entertainment Hall of Fame. In 1985, he was given a lifetime achievement award from the Kennedy Center.

Hope could, and did, joke about all of the honors he received (they filled two warehouses) because he couldn’t resist a funny line. He said once: “I’ve got so many doctorates, I’m beginning to resent Medicare.”

In 1967, when he became the first honorary member of Harvard University’s Hasty Pudding Theatrical Society, he told a packed house:

“I’ve been given a medal by my country for leaving it, an Oscar in a year when I didn’t make any movies, and a B’nai B’rith Award for being a Gentile.”

But he never took any of the awards lightly, saying once that it was not so much the receiver that mattered, but the giver. “What’s important is not what an award means to me, but what it means to them.

His Toluca Lake office was filled with mementos ranging from a 9-foot replica of an Oscar to a doll handed to him by a child at an airport. He had a dollar bill from comedian Jack Benny and a silver set from the queen of England, along with trophies, plaques, medals, silver cups, keys to cities, state declarations from around the world, military patches, autographed artifacts from global leaders and celebrities, and thousands of photographs.

When he turned 95, the comedian donated his personal papers, recordings of radio and television broadcasts, prints of movies, scripts, photographs, posters and 100,000 jokes to the Library of Congress, along with several million dollars to preserve the collection.

Considered a political conservative, Hope was still one of the first comedians to take aim at Sen. Joseph McCarthy during the red-baiting days of the 1950s. He also maintained a warm friendship with the nation’s Democratic presidents, especially Kennedy, whose sense of style and wit he greatly admired, and with Harry S. Truman.

The entertainer was proud that Truman kept under the glass on his Oval Office desk the one-word telegram Hope had sent him when, against all odds, Truman won election in 1948 over Republican Thomas Dewey. The telegram said: “Unpack.”

Hope continued his friendship with Richard Nixon even after the president resigned in disgrace, and the comedian was a Palm Springs neighbor and frequent golf partner of Ford. But Ronald Reagan, the former actor, was his special friend, and Reagan was prominent in a three-hour television special that saluted Hope’s 80th birthday in 1983.

Golf was more than a hobby or pastime with Hope. He liked to say it was his vocation and comedy his avocation. A golf club was often his prop on stage, and golf clubs filled his Toluca Lake home.

His Bob Hope Chrysler Classic in Palm Springs, an annual golf tournament that began in 1960 under a different name and took Hope’s name in 1965, has raised tens of millions of dollars for charity.

Agonized Over Time Away From ChildrenBut more than golf, Hope loved his family, and in private he would agonize about the years on the road that kept him away while his children were growing up.

Once, during a private interview, as he sat by a window overlooking his lush gardens in Toluca Lake, he reminisced about how the children would sit at the dining room table as he read his radio routines, with wife Dolores, a devout Catholic, admonishing him when his jokes were too risque for family consumption.

“I learned to temper my humor in those years,” he said. “I discovered which jokes were for matinees and which ones for the night crowds in Vegas. Dolores was a tough critic.”

“He was gone a lot and we missed him, of course,” Dolores Hope said, “but we always had quality instead of quantity. When he wasn’t home, he’d call almost every day, except when he was in a combat zone. Even then, he’d try.”

Theirs was a happy marriage, she once said, and she would not have traded it for anything. “We are normal, imperfect people trying to be perfect. We have been blessed with humor and with a respect for each other,” she said.

Then she added with a smile: “If it hadn’t been a good marriage, I’d have never stayed.”

Despite the reports of his many infidelities over the years, she was a patient but not docile wife to the hyperactive comedian. When they were together, he often deferred to her.

Once, aboard an airplane to St. Louis, she responded tartly to a churlish comment by her husband: “Let’s try that tone of voice again!”

“Dolores takes care of me,” Hope often said, and as a result he watched his diet, slept well and exercised, keeping himself fit and trim.

Actress Eva Marie Saint, who appeared with Hope in two movies, “That Certain Feeling” and his last feature, “Cancel My Reservation,” credited his wife with being a stabilizing influence in his life.

“He took care of himself and he was very disciplined,” Saint told The Times on Monday. “I think the fact that he had this lovely talented lady beside him, Dolores, added to his longevity. They were so supportive of each other and, my goodness, wouldn’t you have to be understanding to be married to someone who loved being on the road and just enjoyed working?”

Into his 60s, after personal appearances, sometime as late as 2 a.m., Hope would walk, a habit that worried his aides when they were playing crime-plagued cities.

To placate them, he sometimes carried a golf club with him, and the comedian striding through the predawn streets of towns across America became a familiar sight.

He was able to make occasional public appearances well into his 90s.

He made a special appearance on the Emmy telecast in September 1998 and earned a strong ovation from the Academy. The next month, he and Dolores showed up at a black-tie tribute to Rosemary Clooney.

As for his children, they would voice wistfulness at the father they never quite knew well enough.

In a profile of Hope by John Lahr in the New Yorker in 1998, his daughter Linda, who ran Hope’s production company, noted: “I don’t feel that I really know him. That’s a kind of sadness for me because I would have liked to know him better.”

Hope, by almost all measures, was an up person his attitude was positive, his enthusiasm immense. His rare flashes of public anger were usually aimed at those who questioned his motives.

Asked once if his charity donations or performances were simply a way to beat the tax man, the comedian flared. “Hell no!” he said. “I do it because it gives me pleasure! I’ve been doing it for years. Benny and [Milton] Berle and I used to play benefits on Broadway Sunday night.

“Giving is a joy when you’re lucky enough and healthy enough to do it. In fact, it’s a . privilege!”

At times, the comedian had as many as 13 writers working for him, and into the 1990s he employed three full time — along with four secretaries, a publicist, a business manager-agent, an accountant and household staffs at his Toluca Lake and Palm Springs homes.

Hope’s file of jokes, kept in two large vaults, was immense, and covered everything from apples to zebras. The material fed not only his shows, but also his books and for many years a column for the Hearst newspaper chain.

More than 100 filing cabinet drawers were filled with one-liners and sketches, jokes numbering in the millions — and there were those who thought that Hope, even in his later years, kept them all in his head.

During a one-hour show, he would use about 150 jokes and, except for television, never used cue cards. He constantly updated his material to suit the social and political climate of the day and the city or country in which he was performing.

Jokes came not only from his writers but also from friends and caddies, hotel bellmen and fans. “There’s a straight line lying around in everyone’s head,” Hope liked to say. “All you’ve got to do is reach in and lift it.”

As he grew older, he admittedly mellowed in his style and slowed slightly in the pace of his delivery, realizing that he didn’t have to hammer a joke home anymore: “The audience and I know each other now. We’ve built up a relationship.”

Even so, he never ceased updating and refining his material or watching the front rows to see who was laughing and who wasn’t.

Hope’s mastery of audiences never lessened over the years.

In an interview with Playboy Magazine in 1973, Hope was asked the secret of his comedy.

“Material has a lot to do with it, but the real secret is timing,” Hope replied. “Not just of comedy but of life. It starts with life. Think of sports, even sex. Timing is the essence of life and definitely of comedy. There’s a chemistry of timing between a comedian and an audience. If the chemistry is great, it’s developed through the handling of the material, and the timing of it — how you get into the audience’s head.”

“The great ad-libbers are the ones with the best timing, like Don Rickles. Timing shows more in ad-libs than anything else.”

For his part, Rickles, who was on many of Hope’s specials in the 1960s, recalled working with Hope as a lot of fun.

“He was also congenial but a real technician,” Rickles told the Los Angeles Times on Monday. “When we did sketches they had to be exactly the way he thought of it. Of course, he was always right.”

Hope called his success luck but couldn’t help adding: “The harder I work, the luckier I get.” His favorite joke, he used to say, was one on former President Ford: “I played golf with Ford today. He had a birdie, an eagle, an elk, a moose and a Mason.”

And while older generations of Hope’s fans stayed loyal to the end, over time a gap developed with younger audiences who might have been mystified at his enduring attraction.

In the biography “Bob Hope: A Life in Comedy,” late night show host Conan O’Brien reflects on that gap.

“I don’t think a lot of people in my generation saw his best work . ” O’Brien told author William Robert Faith. “If you go back and look at his movies . like “Son of Paleface” or any of the Road movies, you’re just amazed at his talent. He was so smooth and so precise.”

O’Brien also noted that Hope’s character development in these films was also unique.

“I think he was the first guy to master the fast-talking coward, the cowardly wise guy, the one who has a lot of bravado but when the tough guy sneaks up behind him, he’s suddenly saying, ‘Oh you’ve been working out, haven’t you?’ ”

As fate would have it, Hope lived longer than all his great contemporaries — George Burns, Lucille Ball, Bing Crosby, Milton Berle and Jack Benny. He even lived longer than the congressman who announced his death prematurely on the floor of the House. He died Sunday on the 50th anniversary of the armistice that ended the Korean War.

For his 100th birthday in May, NBC aired a two-hour special called “100 Years of Hope and Humor,” which did well in the ratings and has been nominated for an Emmy.

On Sunday night, family members as well as longtime caregivers and a priest gathered at his Toluca Lake home as the comedian slipped away.

“I can’t tell you how beautiful and serene and peaceful it was,” his daughter Linda told a news conference Monday. “The fact that there was a little audience gathered around, even though it was family, I think warmed Dad’s heart.”

“He really left us with a smile on his face and no last words. He gave us each a kiss and that was it,” she said.

MSNBC, co-owned by his longtime employer NBC, first broke the news of his death Monday morning.

Approachable by Public and Press

For all his fame, he was approachable by both public and press, arranging interviews during busy schedules and never turning away a request for an autograph.

But it was during the war years that the indefatigable comic made himself the most available — to the men and women on the fighting fronts and to the wounded in military hospitals.

Novelist John Steinbeck, writing for the New York Herald Tribune in 1943, described a Hope visit to a hospital during World War II:

“Probably the most difficult, the most tearing thing of all is to be funny in a hospital. In the long aisles of pain the men lie, with their eyes turned inward on themselves.

“Bob Hope and his company come into this quiet, inward, lonesome place, gently pull the minds outward and catch the interest, and finally bring laughter up out of the black water.”

Steinbeck wrote about the efforts of Frances Langford to sing in one hospital and how, when one of the wounded soldiers began to cry, she broke down and couldn’t go on.

“Then Hope walked into the aisle between the beds, and he said seriously: ‘Fellows, the folks at home are having a terrible time about eggs. They can’t get any powdered eggs at all. They’ve got to use the old-fashioned kind you break open.’

“There’s a man for you,” Steinbeck concluded. “There is really a man.”

Times staff writers Paul Brownfield and Susan King contributed to this report.

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