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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King Billy

Connolly named funniest stand-up ever

Billy Connolly has been named the funniest stand-of all time

The Glaswegian, who ‘influenced a whole generation of comedians’ topped a poll on Channel 4, unveiled on Sunday night.

Fellow comics lined up to pay tribute, with Eddie Izzard – who came fourth in the list – saying every other comics was ’15 years behind him’.

Chris Addison said he was ‘astonishingly brilliant’, and Ross Noble added: ‘He is the best this country has produced, hands-down.’

Jimmy Carr said: ‘All comics owe him a debt. He is an incredible performer. He pretty much invented what we do for a living’ and Bruce Forsyth added: “ ‘He makes you listen to him, even with that accent, you hang on every word.’

A list of nominees was drawn up by experts, then voted upon by 150,000 visitors to the Channel 4 website.

Peter Kay ‘a stand-up who has rejuvenated end-of-the-pier humour’ was voted number two, and Eddie Izzard number three.

The programme also unearthed some rare footage, such as a young Richard Pryor when he was trying to emulate Bill Cosby’s mainstream ‘colourless' comedy, a pre-Pub Landlord Al Murray doing his old sound-effects routine, and Eddie Izzard’s first TV appearance.

The full list was:

100 - Tim Vine
99 - Patrick Kielty
98 - Alan Carr
97 - Jim Bowen
96 - Bill Cosby
95 - Lee Mack
94 - Ardal O'Hanlon
93 - Rik Mayall
92 - Paul Merton
91 - Dick Gregory
90 - Joe Pasquale
89 - George Burns
88 - Ronnie Corbett
87 - Reg D Hunter
86 - Bob Newhart
85 - Harry Enfield
84 - Demetri Martin
83 - Tommy Trinder
82 - Barry Humphries
81 - Freddie Starr
80 - Andy Kaufman
79 - Frank Carson
78 - Mitch Hedburg
77 - Chic Murray
76 - Arthur Smith
75 - Dave Gorman
74 - Dave Allen
73 - Ed Byrne
72 - Frankie Howerd
71 - John Thompson
70 - Jethro
69 - Russell Brand
68 - Lee Hurst
67 - Mike Reid
66 - Chris Addison
65 - Rhona Cameron
64 - Tommy Tiernan
63 - Alan Davies
62 - George Carlin
61 - Phil Jupitus
60 - Omid Dajilil
59 - Steve Martin
58 - Dave Spikey
57 - Julian Clary
56 - Roseanne
55 - Sean Lock
54 - Emo Phillips
53 - Tommy Cooper
52 - Jerry Seinfeld
51 - Lenny Henry
50 - Bob Hope
49 - Graham Norton
48 - Ken Dodd
47 - Jackie Mason
46 - Rob Newman
45 - Paul O'Grady
44 - Robin Williams
43 - Johnny Vegas
42 - Dara O'Briain
41 - Stewart Lee
40 - Sean Hughes
39 - Jenny Eclair
38 - Andrew Dice Clay
37 - Jim Davidson
36 - Mark Thomas
35 - Denis Leary
34 - David Baddiel
33 - Chubby Brown
32 - Steven Wright
31 - Bob Monkhouse
30 - Lenny Bruce
29 - Bernard Manning
28 - Joan Rivers
27 - Daniel Kitson
26 - Frank Skinner
25 - Steve Coogan
24 - Eddie Murphy
23 - Lee Evans
22 - Jo Brand
21 - Ben Elton
20 - Jasper Carrott
19 - Les Dawson
18 - Alexei Sayle
17 - Dylan Moran
16 - Al Murray
15 - Jerry Sadowitz
14 - Woody Allen
13 - Jack Dee
12 - Jimmy Carr
11 - Ricky Gervais
10 - Ross Noble
9 - Chris Rock
8 - Victoria Wood
7 - Bill Bailey
6 - Bill Hicks
5 - Harry Hill
4 - Richard Pryor
3 - Eddie Izzard
2 - Peter Kay
1 - Billy Connolly

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Published: 18 Mar 2007

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