On This Day: Entertainment Icon Bob Hope Passes Away at Age 100 in 2003

by Megan Molseed

On this day (July 27), nineteen years ago, the beloved and legendary comedian Bob Hope passed away. The comedy icon was 100 years old. Hope was an icon in the entertainment industry, starring on stage, and on TV. The host and comedian is also well-known for his regular appearances in a variety of radio productions. Bob Hope’s legacy also includes his tireless work supporting the US military. Performing live for the troops for half a century.

Bob Hope Becomes A Titan In The Global Entertainment Industry, Winning The Hearts Of Millions

Born in London on May 29, 1903, Leslie Townes Hope on May 29, 1903, moved to the states at a young age. Settling in Ohio with his family. Hope’s legacy became a big part of the entertainment industry in the 1930 and 1940s. This came as Hope became a regular face (and voice) in a variety of productions and performances.

Hope further cemented his place in history, however, by winning over the hearts of millions in his efforts to support – and entertain – the troops over the span of 50 years. From World War II all the way up into the 1990s just prior to the Gulf War.

A statement released by the US Department of Defense after the comedian’s 2003 death, further highlights the comedian’s impact on the military. A move that is nearly unheard of after the death of a civilian.

“The first and only American ever to be made an honorary Veteran of America’s Armed Forces, Bob Hope holds a special place in the national security pantheon,” the statement reads.

“Although he is no longer with us in life, he will always remain, just as he was, in our hearts,” the tribute adds. “[C]racking jokes, boosting morale and reminding all the world of what it means to be an American.”

Hope Discovers His Most Valuable Audience – The Troops

A traveling exhibit available via The National World War II Museum called So Ready For the Laughter: The Legacy of Bob Hope, notes that Bob Hope quickly “discovered what would be his most cherished audience, the armed forces.”

The exhibit at The National World War II Museum goes on to note Hope’s dedication to bringing laughter to the men and women serving the country. Showing up for the military, often performing in person.

“During the war, only nine of Hope’s 144 broadcasts were recorded in the studio,” the exhibit notes. “The rest were performed in front of troops.”

A 2021 USO tribute notes that Hope was “unwavering in his support of service members,” adding that the comedian was ready to honor the troops “[n]o matter the location or conflict.”

Bob Hope holds a record for hosting the Oscars – 19 times between 1940 and 1978. Two US presidents, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson honored Hope with citations. Hope also has the distinction of being the first civilian to receive the Order of the Sword from the United States Air Force. A recognition that notes Hope’s “significant contributions to the enlisted corps.”