Hope, Bob

Hope, Bob
orig. Leslie Townes Hope

born May 29, 1903, Eltham, Eng.
died July 27, 2003, Toluca Lake, Calif., U.S.

British-born U.S. actor.

His family immigrated to Ohio when he was four years old. He created a song-and-comedy vaudeville act and in 1933 won his first substantial role in a musical, Roberta. Success in radio led to his first film, The Big Broadcast of 1938, in which he sang his theme song, "Thanks for the Memory." He hosted the highly rated Bob Hope Show (1938–50) on radio and later hosted and appeared in numerous popular television specials. He costarred with Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour in seven popular "Road" pictures, beginning with The Road to Singapore (1940), and won fans in The Paleface (1948), My Favorite Spy (1951), and The Seven Little Foys (1955). For more than 40 years he performed with his variety show for U.S. troops overseas.

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▪ 2004
Leslie Townes Hope 
      British-born American comic and actor (b. May 29, 1903, Eltham, near London, Eng.—d. July 27, 2003, Toluca Lake, Calif.), as one of the U.S.'s most enduring and beloved performers, delighted audiences for some seven decades with one-liners and topical monologues. A star on radio, television, stage, and screen, he was also known for the numerous tours he made (1941–90) to entertain U.S. troops, and these shows were often featured on his TV specials, which appeared regularly from 1950 to 1996. At age four Hope immigrated with his family to the U.S., settling in Cleveland, Ohio. As a teenager he began appearing in vaudeville, and he later worked as a stand-up comic. In 1927 he made his Broadway debut in The Sidewalks of New York, and other musicals, including Roberta (1933) and Red Hot and Blue (1936), soon followed. Hope attracted national attention in 1938 with the launch of his hugely popular radio program, The Bob Hope Pepsodent Show, and the release of his first feature film, The Big Broadcast of 1938; in that movie he sang “Thanks for the Memory,” which became his trademark tune. His brash comedic style was a hit with audiences, as was his adopted persona of a cowardly braggart. In 1940 Hope costarred with Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour in Road to Singapore, a lighthearted movie that featured singing, in-jokes, and much ad-libbing. A huge success, the film catapulted Hope into superstardom and led to six more “Road” films. Later movies, including My Favorite Blonde (1942), The Paleface (1948), and The Lemon Drop Kid (1951), helped make Hope one of the country's top box-office draws. He received numerous awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1969) and the National Medal of Arts (1995). In 1997 Hope was named an honorary veteran by the U.S. Congress, and the following year he was made an honorary CBE. Although he never won an Academy Award for his acting, he hosted the ceremony a record 18 times and received five special Oscars for his humanitarian work and contributions to film.

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▪ American actor and entertainer
original name  Leslie Townes Hope  
born May 29, 1903, Eltham, near London, England
died July 27, 2003, Toluca Lake, California, U.S.
 British-born American entertainer and comic actor, known for his rapid-fire delivery of jokes and one-liners and for his success in virtually all entertainment media. He was also known for his decades of overseas tours to entertain American troops, and he received numerous awards and honours for his work as an entertainer and humanitarian.

      Hope was the fifth of seven sons of a stonemason and a former Welsh concert singer; his family immigrated to the United States when he was four years old. He grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, manifesting the first signs of his vocation at age 10 when he won a Charlie Chaplin (Chaplin, Charlie) imitation contest. After a series of odd jobs, including amateur boxer, Hope during his late teens embarked on an entertainment career and later performed with a succession of partners in vaudeville. He first appeared on Broadway in The Sidewalks of New York (1927), and after additional work in vaudeville and a failed Hollywood screen test, he landed his first substantial stage role in the Jerome Kern (Kern, Jerome) musical Roberta (1933). During the mid-1930s he starred in a series of comedy shorts and found increasing success in radio, a medium well-suited to his loquacious style. Hope made his feature-film debut in The Big Broadcast of 1938 (1938), in which he first sang his signature tune "Thanks for the Memory," and he launched the long-running The Bob Hope Show on radio in that same year. By the end of the decade, Hope was one of America's most popular comics.

      Just as silent films had popularized physical and slapstick comedy, the encroachment of sound motion pictures and radio during the 1930s paved the way for Hope's style of brash verbal comedy. Although a bug-eyed double take is a familiar Hope trademark, most of his comedy relied on quips and wisecracks delivered at a breakneck pace. His persona was that of transparent bravado, glib repartee, and ingratiating mediocrity—a smart aleck who cowers at the slightest threat. He did not elicit audience sympathy and was less likely to win the girl at the end of a film than he was to wind up the buffoonish victim of some quagmire of his own making. By allowing the audience to feel superior to him, Hope was one of the few comic performers to sustain a successful career built upon a largely unsympathetic character.

 The first films to showcase Hope's familiar persona were The Cat and the Canary (1939) and The Ghost Breakers (1940), two horror-film spoofs that costarred Paulette Goddard (Goddard, Paulette). In 1940 Hope made Road to Singapore, the first of seven popular “Road” pictures in which he costarred with Bing Crosby (Crosby, Bing) and Dorothy Lamour. Characterized by lighthearted irreverence, absurd sight gags, and an abundance of in-jokes, the “Road” pictures embody the brazen style of comedy in vogue during the 1940s. The films, of which Road to Morocco (1942) and Road to Utopia (1946) are usually cited as the best in the series, also contributed to Hope's status as one of America's top box-office draws during the years 1941–53. His other successful films from this period include My Favorite Blonde (1942), Let's Face It (1943), Monsieur Beaucaire (1946), Where There's Life (1947), My Favorite Brunette (1947), The Paleface (1948), Fancy Pants (1950), The Lemon Drop Kid (1951), and Son of Paleface (1952). Several films also showcased Hope's skills as a song-and-dance man and afforded him the opportunity to introduce many songs that became popular standards, including "Two Sleepy People," "Buttons and Bows," and "Silver Bells."

      During World War II Hope traveled extensively to entertain troops overseas and at home; most of his war-era radio shows were broadcast from military bases throughout the world. Because of his similar tours during American military involvement in Korea, Vietnam, and the Persian Gulf over subsequent decades, Hope became as renowned for his armed forces shows as for his accomplishments as an entertainer. In 1997 the U.S. Congress recognized his efforts by naming him the first “Honorary Veteran” in U.S. history. Hope, the most decorated American entertainer of all time, called it “the greatest honor I have ever received.” His other honours and awards include an honorary Commander of the Order of the British Empire, an honorary British knighthood, the Congressional Gold Medal, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and five special Oscars for humanitarian services and contributions to the film industry.

      Awards notwithstanding, Hope endured harsh criticism throughout his career both for his politics and for his reluctance to challenge himself as a performer. As his films became increasingly tired and formulaic in the 1960s, so too did his hawkish politics become out of sync with the American mood during the Vietnam War era. Young Americans, unfamiliar with the glib, wisecracking Hope of the 1940s films, now derided him as the embodiment of the “Establishment.” He was probably seen at his best during these years in live performance, where, free from the need to be topical, he could deliver a largely spontaneous show built around the vast mental warehouse of jokes that he had compiled over the decades.

      By the late 1970s, Hope's status as a major comic was restored somewhat by prominent critics and directors (such as Woody Allen (Allen, Woody)) who lavished praise upon his films of the 1940s and early '50s. To his harshest critics, Hope will probably remain little more than a capable mouthpiece for his staff of comedy writers; to admirers, he represents a vital component in American comedy history and personifies the comic tastes of the World War II generation, by whom wit and wordplay were highly valued. At the close of the 20th century, Hope, who continued to perform on a limited basis into his 90s, was named entertainer of the century by several periodicals and organizations. A true American icon, Hope was perhaps the only entertainer to achieve front-line success in all the major entertainment media—stage, movies, radio, and television.

Additional Reading
Charles Thompson, Bob Hope: Portrait of a Superstar (1981); Leonard Pitts, Bob Hope (1984); Randall J. Mielke, Road to the Box Office: The Seven Film Comedies of Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, and Dorothy Lamour, 1940–1962 (1997); Lawrence J. Quirk, Bob Hope: The Road Well-Traveled (1998).

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Universalium. 2010.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Hope,Bob — Hope, Bob. Originally Leslie Towne Hope. Born 1903. British born American entertainer. He costarred with Bing Crosby in the popular “Road” films, beginning with the Road to Singapore (1940). Since 1940 he has traveled extensively to entertain U.S …   Universalium

  • Hope, Bob — (1903 2003)    Famous actor and comedian Bob Hope was born Leslie Townes Hope in England. His family immigrated to the United States in 1907 and settled in Cleveland, Ohio. Hope found a variety of casual jobs after leaving high school but turned… …   Historical Dictionary of the Roosevelt–Truman Era

  • Hope, Bob — orig. Leslie Townes Hope (29 may. 1903, Eltham, Inglaterra–27 jul. 2003, Toluca Lake, Cal. EE.UU.). Actor estadounidense de origen británico. Su familia emigró a Ohio cuando él tenía cuatro años de edad. Creó y actuó una rutina cómica–musical de… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Hope, Bob — pseud. di Townes Hope, Leslie …   Sinonimi e Contrari. Terza edizione

  • Bob Hope — en El castillo maldito (1940) Nombre real Leslie Townes Hope Nacimiento 29 de mayo …   Wikipedia Español

  • Hope (surname) — Hope is a family name, and may refer to many people.A* A. D. Hope, Australian poet * Adam Hope, Canadian politician * Alex Hope, American musician * Amanda Hope, American model * Anthony Hope, British novelistB* Barclay Hope, Canadian actor * Ben …   Wikipedia

  • Bob — /bob/, n. a male given name, form of Robert. * * * (as used in expressions) Bob and Ray Cousy Bob Dole Bob Dylan Bob Feller Bob Fosse Bob Gibson Bob Hayes Bob Hope Bob Marley Bob Mathias Bob Wills Bob * * * …   Universalium

  • Bob Hope — Infobox Comedian name = Bob Hope imagesize = 250px caption = in The Ghost Breakers (1940) birth name = Leslie Townes Hope birth date = birth date|1903|5|29|mf=y birth place = Eltham, London, England death date = death date and… …   Wikipedia

  • Bob Hope — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Hope. Bob Hope …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Hope — /hohp/, n. 1. Anthony, pen name of Sir Anthony Hope Hawkins. 2. Bob (Leslie Townes Hope), born 1903, U.S. comedian, born in England. 3. John, 1868 1936, U.S. educator. 4. a town in SW Arkansas. 10,290. 5. a female given name. * * * (as used in… …   Universalium

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