TCM Archive Materials VIEW ALL ARCHIVES (11)
|Also Known As:||Leslie Townes Hope,Mr. Robert Hope||Died:||July 27, 2003|
|Born:||May 29, 1903||Cause of Death:||pneumonia|
|Birth Place:||Eltham, England, GB||Profession:||Producer ... actor comedian vaudevillian soda jerk newsboy boxer|
am in front of U.S. troops, drew some of the highest ratings of the dozens of "Bob Hope Specials" the beloved comedian made for NBC over more than three decades.
In 1941, Hope began his lifelong commitment to entertaining U.S. troops when he performed for soldiers stationed at Californiaâ¿¿s March Field. By 1943, he was traveling with a USO troupe, performing for Allied soldiers throughout war zones in Europe and the South Pacific, often risking his life in the process. In 1948, he entertained military personnel stationed in Berlin for the first time. It was a yearly tradition he continued for nearly three more decades. Hopeâ¿¿s dedication to the troops continued through the wars in Korea and Vietnam, even extending to the Gulf War more than 40 years later. Dubbed "Americaâ¿¿s No. 1 Soldier in Greasepaint" by the media, Hope held personal relationships with every Commander in Chief from FDR to Bill Clinton, had both a Navy ship and Air Force plane named after him, and was later named the first Honorary Veteran in a act of Congress. An avid golfer since being introduced to the sport in the 1930s, Hopeâ¿¿s ever-present golf club â¿¿ carried like a walking stick â¿¿ became the iconic image of all of his USO performances.
The mainstay of Hopeâ¿¿s career, however, remained the motion picture. Still one of Hollywoodâ¿¿s more dependable box office draws, he impersonated the titular lothario to hilarious effect in "Casanovaâ¿¿s Big Night" (1954) then displayed his considerable talent as a dancer opposite revered Hollywood hoofer James Cagney in the vaudevillian biopic "The Seven Little Foys" (1955). While Hope enjoyed a reputation among his contemporaries as one of the more congenial stars, his outsized personality reportedly clashed with the notoriously acerbic Katharine Hepburn â¿¿ his co-star in the Cold War comedy, "The Iron Petticoat" (1956). Accused by screenwriter Ben Hecht of reducing Hepburnâ¿¿s role to increase the size of his own, Hope endured a rare commercial failure with "Petticoat." A far more amiable relationship existed on the set of his international comedy alongside European beauty Anita Ekberg and cherished French comedian Fernandel in "Paris Holiday" (1958). He appeared opposite his friend Lucille Ball in the critically-acclaimed "The Facts of Life" (1960), a surprisingly sardonic romantic-comedy dealing with infidelity.
Although 10 years had passed since their last outing, Hope and Crosby hit the trail once again for "The Road to Hong Kong" (1962). Infused with bits of James Bond-esque intrigue, it featured young starlet Joan Collins in a role that would have traditionally gone to Dorothy Lamour, although Lamour was seen briefly in a cameo, reportedly at Hopeâ¿¿s insistence. Times and tastes had changed, however, and the latest â¿¿ also the last â¿¿ Hope-Crosby "Road" movie failed to generate much attention with filmgoers. The trend continued, with Hopeâ¿¿s solo offerings "Call Me Bwana" (1963), "Iâ¿¿ll Take Sweden" (1965) and "Boy, Did I Get a Wrong Number!" (1966) being examples of lesser late-career efforts. Hopeâ¿¿s final starring role came with "Cancel My Reservation" (1972), a comedy-mystery co-starring Eva Marie Saint. And although "The Road to the Fountain of Youth," was in the planning stages at the time, Crosbyâ¿¿s sudden death in 1977 put a definitive end to the long-running franchise. No one was more devastated than Hope, who grieved for his onscreen partner for years. Hope hosted the Academy Awards ceremony for one last time the following year â¿¿ a duty he had performed 12 times since 1940. His not-so-subtle feigned lust for a statuette of his own became a running gag during these stints, with Hope famously quipping during the 1968 broadcast, "Welcome to the Academy Awards, or, as itâ¿¿s known in my house, Passover." Although never nominated specifically for his acting work, Hope was presented with several honorary Oscars over the years, including a Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.
At the spry age of 82 and after appearing in more than 50 feature films, Hope delivered one more cameo in, "Spies Like Us" (1985), a globe-trotting comedy starring Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd that owed much to Hope and Crosbyâ¿¿s "Road" movies. Following the airing of his final television special, "Bob Hope . . . Laughing with the Presidents" (NBC, 1996), he formally and amicably ended his association with NBC, one that had lasted for nearly 50 years, declaring himself "a free agent" with his usual optimistic good humor. In his twilight years, Hope continued to enjoy his greatest passion outside of longtime wife Dolores Hope â¿¿ the game of golf. One of the countryâ¿¿s biggest proponents of the sport â¿¿ which he waxed poetic about in Confessions of a Hooker: My lifelong Love Affair with Golf, just one of his 16 published books â¿¿ the Bob Hope Desert Classic, held yearly in Palm Springs, became a staple on the Pro Am circuit.
Hopeâ¿¿s interest in sports, however, was not limited to golf. For a time he held a portion of ownership in both the Los Angeles Rams and San Diego Chargers NFL franchises. Never forgetting his hometown, he was also a co-owner of his beloved professional baseball team, the Cleveland Indians. Long considered one of Hollywoodâ¿¿s richest performers, his investments and holdings in oil, real estate and dozens of other business ventures led to an estimated net worth of as much as $500 million. Wealthy as he was, Hope was also revered as one of entertainmentâ¿¿s greatest philanthropists, raising millions of dollars for charities via the Desert Classic and acting as honorary chairman for the non-profit group, Fight for Sight. Cited by the Guinness Book of World Records as the most honored entertainer of all time, the more than 2,000 accolades Hope received during his lifetime included a Kennedy Center Award, the Medal of Merit, a Congressional Medal, and the Distinguished Public Service Medal of the U.S. Department of Defense, the highest award the military can bestow upon a civilian. The U.K.-born Hope was knighted by the Queen of England in 1998 and appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of St. Gregory by Pope John Paul II that same year. The fact that Hope was given four stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his work in film, television, radio and theater came as no surprise.
With his eyesight having deteriorated to the point that he could no longer read cue cards during a performance, Hope made few public appearances after the turn of the century. In 2000, he was admitted to the hospital for gastrointestinal bleeding and again in 2001 to recuperate from pneumonia. But despite two separate prematurely released obituaries in the years just preceding it, Hope celebrated his 100th birthday in May 2003. Although too frail to make an appearance for a public celebration, the comedian was reportedly overwhelmed by the outpouring of affection that came in from all corners of the globe. Two months later, Hope died quietly from complications due to pneumonia at his home in Toluca Lake, CA on the evening of July 23, 2003. With his wife of nearly 70 years by his side, Hope's death brought to a close one of the town's happiest marriages, but more importantly, one of Hollywood's greatest success stories, with the comic having excelled in every genre and been the object of affection generation after generation.
By Bryce P. Colemanff program "All Star Review" (NBC, 1950-54) and the similarly-themed "The Colgate Comedy Hour" (NBC, 1950-55). He made a memorable guest star appearance on the most popular sitcom of the day, "I Love Lucy" (CBS, 1951-57) and took a seat opposite the Great Carson many times on "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson" (NBC, 1962-1992). Ultimately, Hope became best known on television for his many "Bob Hope Specials" which found him hamming it up with celebrity guests like Frank Sinatra and Brooke Shields and performing duets with popular female vocalists like Olivia-Newton John. His Christmas specials from 1970 and 1971, filmed in Vietn
Please support TCMDB by adding to this information.Click here to contribute