Happy Birthday Bob Hope: Remembering the Legendary Comedian’s Iconic Career

by Joe Rutland
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Bob Hope, a comic legend who made it big in radio, films, and TV, was born on May 29, 1903. Let’s celebrate his birthday with some memories.

Hope was born in the United Kingdom, yet he and his family would cross the Atlantic when young Leslie Townes Hope was just four years old. Hope was born into a big family, so he did his best to help them by working odd jobs. His mother, though, was a singer and started teaching her son about music.

Ultimately, Bob Hope found himself playing in a Vaudeville act that put him on Broadway. He went off to do his own act in the 1930s and, well, Hope started flashing his quick, rapid-fire style of comedy. He married Dolores Reid in 1934 and stayed married to her until his death.

Bob Hope Found His Theme Song In Breakthrough Film Role

Hope began getting parts with the right people. He appeared in “Ziegfeld Follies of 1936,” then starred opposite Ethel Merman and Jimmy Durante in “Red, Hot, and Blue.” Hope procured his first solo radio contract in 1937. In 1938, he starred in a weekly radio show that ran through the 1950s.

By that time, he started making inroads in the film industry. His breakthrough film role came in “The Big Broadcast of 1938,” where he sang “Thanks For The Memory.” That tune became Hope’s theme song.

In the 1940s, Bob Hope became a big box-office star thanks to pairing up with singer Bing Crosby for their “Road” pictures. Hope and Crosby would play gags or insert comedy into dramatic points.

As television began entering people’s homes, Hope was not far behind. In 1950, he starred in his first special for NBC. Hope and the network had a unique relationship, one that lasted 40 years.

Hope Brought Himself, Entertainers to Soldiers in War Zones

It was also on NBC where Bob Hope would air his Christmas specials as he would take entertainers over to visit the troops during the Vietnam War.

Hope’s visits with the troops dated back to World War II. He worked closely with the USO to bring some light-hearted humor to those fighting in war zones.

His continued work in television and as host of the Academy Awards kept Hope in the limelight. But he began to slow down and his final TV special, “Bob Hope: Laughing With the Presidents,” aired in 1996.

Bob Hope died on July 27, 2003, at 100 years old. Hope’s career and achievements remain indelibly etched in people’s hearts. In this film clip from Hope’s 1955 movie “The Seven Little Foys,” where he plays Vaudeville star Eddie Foy, one gets a glimpse of the entertainer himself. Hope shares the scene with actor James Cagney, who reprised his role of George M. Cohan for this scene. Thanks for the memory, Bob.

Bob Hope and James Cagney “hoof it up” in an incredible dance sequence from “The Seven Little Foys.”
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