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Comedy – 1983 – Special – Bob Hope On The Road To Hollywood – Part 1I


Bob Hope was widely praised for his comedic timing….his specialization in the use of one-liners….and his rapid-fire delivery of jokes….and especially with his style of self-deprecating jokes….after first building himself up….then tearing himself down, was unique. Working tirelessly, he performed live hundreds of times per year…..while starring in such early films as The Cat and the Canary (1939) and The Paleface (1948)….which were financially successful and praised by critics…..plus by the mid-1940’s….with his radio program getting good ratings as well…..so, he was one of the most popular entertainers in the United States in the 1940’s….who when Paramount threatened to stop production of the “Road” pictures in 1945….they received 75,000 letters of protest.  

He had been a leader in radio until the late 1940’s…..but as his ratings began to slip in the 1950’s….he switched to television and became an early pioneer of that medium…..all the while in keeping with his ever-hectic schedule….he published several books he dictated to ghostwriters about his wartime experiences.  Although Hope made an effort to keep his material up to date….he never adapted his comic persona or his routines to any great degree….and as Hollywood began to transition to the “New Hollywood” era in the 1960’s….he reacted negatively, such as when he hosted the 40th Academy Awards in 1968….when he voiced his contempt by mocking the show’s delay because of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr…..while condescendingly greeting attending younger actors on stage….such as Dustin Hoffman, who was 30 at the time, as children.  By the 1970’s, his popularity was beginning to wane with military personnel and with the movie-going public in general…..however, he continued doing USO tours into the 1980’s….and continued to appear on television into the 1990’s. Former First Lady Nancy Reagan was a close friend and frequent host to him at the White House…..called Hope “America’s most honored citizen and our favorite clown.”….as Mrs. Reagan must have forgot about America’s Clown Prince, Red Skelton.

Bob Hope continued an active entertainment career past his 75th birthday, concentrating on his television specials and USO tours….and although he had given up starring in movies after Cancel My Reservation ….he made several cameos in various films and co-starred with Don Ameche in the 1986 TV movie A Masterpiece of Murder A television special created for his 80th birthday in 1983 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C…..featured President Ronald Reagan….actress Lucille Ball….comedian-actor-writer George Burns….and many others.  In 1985, he was presented with the Life Achievement Award at the Kennedy Center Honors…..and in 1998 he was appointed an honorary Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Queen Elizabeth II. Upon accepting the appointment, Hope quipped, “I’m speechless. 70 years of ad lib material and I’m speechless.”  At the age of 95, Hope made an appearance at the 50th anniversary of the Primetime Emmy Awards with Milton Berle and Sid Caesar ….and two years later….he was present at the opening of the Bob Hope Gallery of American Entertainment at the Library of Congress. The Library of Congress has presented two major exhibitions about Hope’s life….“Hope for America: Performers, Politics and Pop Culture” and “Bob Hope and American Variety.

Hope celebrated his 100th birthday on May 29, 2003…..as he became one a small group of notable centenarians in the field of entertainment…..so, to mark this event….the intersection of Hollywood and Vine in Los Angeles was named “Bob Hope Square”….and his centennial was declared “Bob Hope Day” in 35 states. Even at 100, Hope maintained his self-deprecating sense of humor, quipping, “I’m so old, they’ve canceled my blood type.” 

Any way you cut the pie…..our Bob Hope videos here at ImaSportsphile are “pute gold” in our treasure chest of vintage memories….and this Road to Hollywood tv special….brings back all of his cinematic performances that many of our viewers grew up seeing.


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