Bob Hope

Bob Hope

Date of birth: 29-05-1903

Bob, the son a stonemason and an aspiring concert singer, had a career that stretched across seven decades.

Though born in Eltham, south London, Hope moved to Cleveland, Ohio, when he was just four, where, as a youth, he entered local talent shows.

His casual careers included a butcher's delivery boy, a soda jerk, a shoe salesman, pool hustler and boxer (under the name 'Packy East'), but it was the stage where he was most at home.

He worked vaudeville houses as a dancer, where he was signed up to fill the bill of the Fatty Arbuckle Show, before a stint on Broadway.

Hope's break was in the 1933 Broadway musical Roberta, during which time he met a young singer Dolores, who he married a year later. They remained married until his death.

In May 1937, Bob signed a 26-week radio contract for the Woodbury Soap Show, and the next year was given his own show on NBC radio, which became ratings-topper. He continued to host a regular show until 1956.

His radio fame led to Hollywood. Aside from one-reel comedy shorts, Hope's first film role was in The Big Broadcast of 1938.

Hope starred in more than 50 films, though is still most famous for the 'Road' movies with Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour, which made his name. He only got the role after George Burns and Fred MacMurray passed.

Though he has never won a best actor Oscar, he has been awarded two honorary academy awards, two special awards and a humanitarian award.

Alongside his film work, Hope also maintained a stong presence on TV.

Although he appeared on the first commercial television broadcast on the West Coast in 1947, and in several experimental broadcasts before the Second World War, he was really a latecomer to the medium, not convinced it would succeed, not hosting his first show until 1950 - and TV never beacme the mainstay of his career.

Over his lifetime, he has been awarded more honours than any other entertainer - an achievement that earned him a place in the Guinness Book of Records.

He was given an honorary knighthood in 1998, and on hearing the news said: "I'm speechless. 70 years of ad lib material and I'm speechless."

President Kennedy presented him with the Congressional Gold Medal, President Johnson awarded him the Medal of Freedom and Bill Clinton gave him a Medal of the Arts. He had 58 honorary degrees and was even been declared an 'honorary veteran' by the US congress for his his commitment to the nation's armed forces.

The first "GI Bob" appearance was in May 1941, at a Californian air base and all but two of his shows during the war were broadcast from military installations. He continued to perform for the forces right up to the Gulf war.

Bob's other great passion was golf, organising the annual Desert Classic in Palm Springs, California.

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