Bob Hope Term Paper

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Bob Hope was born Leslie Townes Hope in Eltham, England in 1903; when he was a child, his family moved to Cleveland, Ohio. He died in California in July, 2003, a few months after his 100th birthday. (Fagan, A01) Amazingly, he performed in his last TV special in 1996 at the age of 93.

Bob Hope started out as a young man as a vaudeville song-and-dance man, but moved rapidly to comedy. By 1930, Hope had reached vaudeville's pinnacle, the Palace, and moved on to leading roles in Broadway musicals such as Roberta and Red, Hot and Blue. Next, he began appearing on radio, and then moved to Hollywood, where he starred in 50 films, and had cameos in 15 more. (Fagan, A01) His first movie was The Big Broadcast of 1938 and his last appearance was a cameo in Spies Like Us in 1985.

He also influenced other comedic actors through his work, most notably Woody Allen. In 1978, Allen celebrated Hope through a Carnegie Hall tribute for which he had edited together a 70-minute show of clips he called "My Favorite Comedian." Included was a clip from Allen's own Love and Death to show how Hope had influenced Allen's work. (Honeycutt, no page given)

Whether or not Hope's lengthy career in movies is a record, Hope does hold the Guinness record for the longest contract ever with a TV network, 60 years with NBC. (Fagan, A01) One thing he never did earn was a regular Oscar, although he did present the Oscar numerous times, and a favorite joke was "Oscar night at my house is called Passover." (Fagan, A01) He did, however, get special awards form the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, including two honorary Oscars, two special awards and the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.

The final award makes a good introduction to much of Bob Hope's legacy. He was a consummate comedian, and a pretty good singer and dancer (Honeycutt, no page given), but his work with U.S. troops in war zones was as much a part of his routine as the jokes.

Hope began entertaining troops in May, 1941, when he took his radio comedy show to March Field, an Army Air Corps base near Los Angeles. He only intended to do it once, but the audience was so appreciative that it became standard procedure for seven more years. (Arnold, B05) He also supported the war effort both indirectly and directly through his movies. In 1941, he made Caught in the Draft, which was released right before Pearl Harbor. In it, Hope played a vain movie star who tries to use his status to stay out of the army, but has a change of heart and joins up. Later, Hope used a version of this premise when he made a pretense during his Vietnam Christmas specials that he had really been conned into showing up. (Arnold, B05) His ability to make fun of himself as a coward endeared him to the troops in danger themselves, and, of course, giving live shows in Vietnam was not without its own dangers.

Hope logged 6 million miles entertaining troops at home and overseas in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. At the age…

Sources Used in Document:

Works Cited

Arnold, Gary. (2003) Bob Hope leaves legacy of memories. The Washington Times, July 29, B05. Retrieved May 5, 2004 from Questia database, www.questia.com.

Fagan, Amy. (2003) Bob Hope dies, leaving a century full of memories; Legendary career included shows for U.S. troops. The Washington Times, July 29, A01. Retrieved May 5, 2004 from Questia database, www.questia.com.

Honeycutt, Kirk. (2003) Film was natural medium for fast-talking quipster. (Bob Hope: 1903-2003). (Biography) Hollywood Reporter, July 29, no page given. Retrieved May 5, 2004 from Highbeam Research database, www.highbeam.com.

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