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Comedy – Bob Hope – Stand-Up / TV Specials / Military USO Tours / Movies – L E’s Stories Special – Tribute To Bob Hope: A True American Hero…..Thanks For The Memories

There are television personalities that Bone Daddy grew up with as he and the family regularly gathered around the black and white TV with rabbit-ears antennas in the 1950’s and 1960’s….to include major sporting events, of course….along with folks and shows like the Red Skelton Comedy Hour….the Cartwrights in Bonanza….Lucille Ball in I Love Lucy….The Beverly Hillbillies….Gunsmoke….Perry Mason….Dragnet….My Three Sons….The Lone Ranger….Mission Impossible….The Wonderful World of Disney….The Twilight Zone….Have Gun Will Travel….Jackie Gleason in The Honeymooners…..the Andy Griffith Show….as well as anything Bob Hope….whereas, Hope, Skelton, Ball and Gleason were the family favorites…..as the family never missed a Bob Hope program…..including the Bob Hope Golf Classic..so, this story is my tribute to his memory….and all the lasting memories for Bone Daddy of times with the family watching the Bob Hope Christmas Specials.                                                                                                        

Comedy – 1967 – Highlights of Bob Hope’s Christmas Special Onboard The USS Frazier

Bob Hope (born Leslie Townes Hope; May 29, 1903 – July 27, 2003) was a British-American stand-up comedian, vaudevillian, actor, singer, dancer and author…..with a career that spanned nearly 80 years….in which Hope appeared in more than 70 short and feature films….with 54 feature films with Hope as star…. which included a series of seven “Road” musical comedy movies with Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour as Hope’s top-billed partners.  In addition to hosting the Academy Awards show 19 times, more than any other host, he appeared in many stage productions and television roles….while writing 14 books. The song “Thanks for the Memory” was his signature tune.  Hope was born in the Eltham district of southeast London, arrived in the United States with his family at the age of four, and grew up in near Cleveland, Ohio.  After a brief career as a boxer in the late 1910’s, he began his career in show business in the early 1920’s, initially as a comedian and dancer on the vaudeville circuit, before acting on Broadway….then Hope began appearing on radio and in films starting in 1934.  He was praised for his comedic timing….while specializing in one-liners and rapid-fire delivery of jokes that were often self-deprecating…..as he helped establish modern American stand-up comedy.  Between 1941 and 1991, Hope made 57 tours for the United Service Organizations (USO)….while entertaining active duty American military personnel around the world….when In 1997, the United States Congress passed a bill that made Hope an honorary veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces.  He also appeared in numerous television specials for NBC during his career.  Simply put, Bob Hope is an American treasure. He excelled at every medium and was patriotic in a way that is rarely seen in today’s jingoistic society…..as we are proud to honor him here at ImaSportsphile.                                                                                                                                                        

Comedy – 1903 To 2003 – Top Documentary Films – “The Secret Life of Bob Hope”                                                     

Hope was born in Eltham, County of London  (now part of the Royal Borough of Greenwich) in a terraced house on Craigton Road in Well Hall….where there is now a blue plaque in his memory. He was the 5th of seven sons of an English father, William Henry Hope, a stonemason from Weston-super-Mare, Somerset ….and a Welsh mother, Avis (Townes), a light opera singer from Barry, Vale of Glamorgan….who later worked as a cleaner.  In 1908, the family emigrated to the United States while sailing aboard the SS  Philadelphia…..when they passed through Ellis Island, New York on March 30, 1908….after which they moved to Cleveland, Ohio.  Hope earned pocket money by busking….which is by public performing to solicit contributions….while frequently working the streetcar to Luna Park….when he would sing, dance and perform comedy…..so, Bob Hope knew what his God given talents were by the time he was 12 years old….and he was already in the process of mastering those talents by this time of his life.   He entered numerous dancing and amateur talent contests as Lester Hope….while winning a prize for his impersonation of Charlie Chaplin in 1915.  For a time, he attended the Boys’ Industrial School in Lancaster, Ohio….and as an adult donated sizable sums of money to the institution.  Hope had a brief career as a boxer in 1919….while fighting under the name Packy East…..when he had three wins and one loss….plus, he participated in a few staged charity bouts later in his life.  Hope worked as a butcher’s assistant and a lineman in his teens and early 1920’s…..and he had a brief stint at Chandler Motor Car Company…..then in 1921, while assisting his brother Jim in clearing trees for a power company….when  he was sitting atop a tree that crashed to the ground, crushing his face….as the accident required Hope to undergo reconstructive surgery….which contributed to his later distinctive appearance.


Comedy – 1972 – Dick Cavett Show – With Guest Bob Hope – As He Talks About His Career And His Money

After deciding on a show business career, Hope and his girlfriend signed up for dancing lessons….and were encouraged after they performed in a 3-day engagement at a club….and that is when Bob Hope formed a partnership with Lloyd Durbin….who was a friend from the dancing school…..when silent film comedian Fatty Arbuckle saw them perform in 1925….and found them work with a touring troupe called Hurley’s Jolly Follies…..and within a year, Hope had formed an act called the “Dancemedians” with George Byrne and the Hilton Sisters….who were conjoined twins that performed a tap-dancing routine on the vaudeville circuit.  Hope and Byrne also had an act as Siamese twins….when they sang and danced while wearing blackface….that is until friends advised Hope he was funnier as himself.                                             

Comedy – Davis Community Television Special – Bob Dunning and Lori Aldrete interview Bob Hope

In 1929, Hope informally changed his first name to “Bob”….when In one version of the story, he named himself after race car driver Bob Burman…..while in another, he said he chose the name because he wanted a name with a “friendly ‘Hiya, fellas!’ sound to it.  After five years on the vaudeville circuit, Hope was “surprised and humbled” when he failed a 1930 screen test for the French film production company Pathé at Culver City, California.  In the early days, Hope’s career included appearances on stage in vaudeville shows and Broadway productions….when he began performing on the radio in 1934….while mostly with NBC radio….then he switched to television when that medium became popular in the 1950’s. He started hosting regular TV specials in 1954….and hosted the Academy Awards 19 times from 1939 through 1977…..while having an overlapping movie career spanning from 1934 to 1972…..along with his  USO tours…..which he orchestrated and conducted from 1941 to 1991.


Comedy – 1955 – Vaudeville Nightclub Act – James Cagney & Bob Hope Dance Routine

Hope signed a contract with Educational Pictures of New York for six short films….with the 1st being Going Spanish in 1934….of which he was not happy with….and told newspaper gossip columnist Walter Winchell, “When they catch [bank robber] Dillinger, they’re going to make him sit through it twice.”….albeit Educational Pictures dropped his contract….that’s when he signed with Warner Brothers….at a time when he was making movies during the day while performing in Broadway shows in the evenings…..and not to long thereafter, Bob Hope moved to Hollywood…..when Paramount Pictures  signed him for the 1938 film The Big Broadcast of 1938….which was also starring W. C. Fields…..and from this movie, there was the song “Thanks for the Memory”…..which would later became his trademark song…..and was introduced in the film as a duet with Shirley Ross….while being accompanied by Shep Fields and his orchestra….when the sentimental, fluid nature of the music allowed Hope’s joke writers ….with whom he depended heavily upon throughout his career….to later create variations of the song to fit specific circumstances….such as bidding farewell to troops while on tour….or mentioning the names of towns in which he was performing.                                                                                                                                                                       

Comedy – 1954 – The Bob Hope Show – As Jack Benny Presents Bob Hope With A Birthday Surprise

As a film star. Hope was best known for such comedies as My Favorite Brunette…..as well as the highly successful “Road” movies in which he starred with Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour…..which was a  series that consists of seven films made between 1940 and 1962….with Road to Singapore in 1940….Road to Zanzibar in 1941….Road to Morocco in 1942….Road to Utopia in 1946….Road to Rio in 1947….Road to Bali in 1952….and The Road to Hong Kong in 1962.  Hope had seen Lamour performing as a nightclub singer in New York….when he invited her to work on his USO tours of military facilities.  In their Road films, Lamour sometimes arrived for filming prepared with her lines….only to be baffled by completely rewritten scripts or ad lib dialogue between Hope and Crosby.  Hope and Lamour were lifelong friends….and she remains the actress most associated with his film career….albeit he made movies with dozens of leading ladies….which included such luminaries as Katharine Hepburn, Paulette Goddard, Hedy Lamarr, Lucille Ball, Rosemary Clooney, Jane Russell, and Elke Sommer  From their first meeting in 1932, Hope and Crosby teamed not only for the “Road” pictures….but for countless stage, radio, and television appearances….along with many brief movie appearances together over the decades until Crosby died in 1977. Although the two invested together in oil leases and other business ventures….while working together frequently….and even lived near each other, they rarely saw each other socially.                               

Music – 1938 = Bob Hope and Shirley Ross – “Thanks For The Memories”                                                                                 

After the release of Road to Singapore in 1941….that is when Hope’s screen career took off…..and he had a long and successful run….then after an 11 year hiatus from the Road genre…..that’s when he and Crosby teamed again for The Road to Hong Kong in 1962…..which starred a 28-year-old Joan Collins in place of Lamour…..cuz Crosby thought she was too old for the part….and they planned one more movie together in 1977 called The Road to the Fountain of Youth…..but filming was delayed when Crosby was injured in a fall….and the production was cancelled when he suddenly died of a heart attack that October.  Hope starred in 54 theatrical features between 1938 and 1972….as well as cameos and short films. Most of his later movies failed to match the stratospheric success of his 1940’s efforts….and he was disappointed with his appearance in Cancel My Reservation in 1972….which was his last starring film….as critics and filmgoers panned the movie. Though his career as a film star effectively ended in 1972, he did make a few cameo film appearances into the 1980’s.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

Comedy – 1972 – The Johnny Carson Show – With Guests Bing Crosby & Bob Hope On How The Road Shows Got Started

Hope was host of the Academy Awards ceremony 19 times between 1939 and 1977….as his supposedly feigned desire for an Oscar became part of his act…..when while introducing the 1968 telecast, he quipped, “Welcome to the Academy Awards, or, as it’s known at my house, Passover.”  Although he was never nominated for an Oscar, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences honored him with four honorary awards….and in 1960 presented him with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award….which is  given each year as part of the Oscars ceremony.

Comedy – 1975 – 47th Academy Awards Show Opening Monologue – With Host Bob Hope

Hope’s career in broadcasting began on radio in 1934.  His first regular series for NBC Radio was the Woodbury Soap Hour in 1937….which was on a 26-week contract…..then a year later, The Pepsodent Show Starring Bob Hope began….and Hope signed a ten-year contract with the show’s sponsor, Lever Brothers…..as he hired eight writers and paid them out of his salary of $2,500 a week. The original staff included Mel Shavelson, Norman Panama, Jack Rose, Sherwood Schwartz, and Schwartz’s brother Al. The writing staff eventually grew to fifteen…..as the show became the top radio program in the country. Regulars on the series included Jerry Colonna and Barbara Jo Allen as spinster Vera Vague…..and Hope continued his lucrative career in radio into the 1950’s….when radio’s popularity began being overshadowed by the upstart television medium.

Comedy – 1944 – Bob Hope USO Tour Somewhere In the South Pacific – With Jerry Colonna

On April 26, 1970, CBS released the television special Raquel! directed by David Winters….in which Hope was a guest…..when It starred Raquel Welch…. and other guests included Tom Jones and John Wayne.   On the day of the premiere, the show received a 51% share on the National ARB Ratings…..and an impressive Overnight New York Nielsen Rating of 58% share.  Hope did many specials for the NBC television network in the following decades, beginning in April 1950…..as he was one of the first people to use cue cards…..and the shows were often sponsored by Frigidaire in the early 1950’s….General Motors from 1955–61…..Chrysler from 1963–73….and then Texaco from 1975–85.                                                                   

TV Ads – 1976 – Bob Hope For Texaco


Music & Comedy – The Raquel Show – With Bob Hope And Raquel Welch Singing “Rocky Racoon”


Music & Comedy – 1952 – Roy Rodgers + Jane Russell + Bob Hope – “Buttons And Bows”

Bob Hope’s Christmas specials were popular favorites….as they often featured a performance of “Silver Bells”….which was from his 1951 film The Lemon Drop Kid….while being done as a duet with typically  much younger female guest stars such as Olivia Newton-John, Barbara Eden and Brooke Shields….or with his wife Dolores, a former singer with whom he sang duets on two specials.  Hope’s 1970 and 1971 Christmas specials for NBC….which were both filmed in Vietnam in front of military audiences at the height of the war…..as these two shows are still today in 2020 on the list of the Top 46 U.S. network prime-time telecasts….as both were seen by more than 60 percent of the U.S. households watching television.


Comedy – 1967 – Bob Hope Christmas Special From All Over Vietnam – With Guests Raquel Welch & Barbara McNair

Beginning in early 1950, Hope licensed rights to publish a celebrity comic book titled The Adventures of Bob Hope to National Periodical Publications, alias DC Comics. The comic, originally featuring publicity stills of Hope on the cover, was entirely made up of fictional stories….which eventually included fictitious relatives, a high school taught by movie monsters and a superhero called Super-Hip.  It was published intermittently, and continued publication through issue #109 in 1969…..where illustrators included Bob Oksner and Neal Adams.  As a point of interest…..when you watch the Bob Hope Christmas Special with the Marines at Da Nang, Vietnam in 1967….just take notice at the end of the video when the Vice-President of South Vietnam spoke….as he lets you know how South Vietnam felt about the sacrifices of our soldiers….cuz so often the Vietnam veterans heard the criticisms from the American left….when the  atrocities of war seemed to be the focus….with no regard for the people of South Vietnam….who feared the Viet Cong and NVA.                                                                                                                                              

Comedy – 1967 – Bob Hope USO Tour Christmas Special – With The US Marines At Da Nang

While aboard the RMS Queen Mary when World War II began in September of 1939….that’s when Hope volunteered to perform a special show for the passengers, during which he sang “Thanks for the Memory” with rewritten lyrics.  He performed his first USO show on May 6, 1941, at March Field in California…..and continued to travel and entertain troops for the rest of World War II….then later on  during the Korean War….which he continued throughout the Vietnam War….then during the third phase of the Lebanon Civil War….and again in the latter years of the Iran–Iraq War…..and finally in the 1990–91 Persian Gulf War…..as his USO career lasted a half-century during….in which he headlined 57 times…. cuz Bob Hope had a deep respect for the men and women who served in the military….which reflected in his willingness to go anywhere to entertain them…..however, during the highly controversial Vietnam War, Hope had trouble convincing some performers to join him on tour as anti-war sentiment was high….and his pro-troop stance made him a target of criticism from some quarters…..which sorta explains why the men who came back from Vietnam were never embraced by the American public….but those who served during that time, like Bone Daddy, held Bob Hope in the highest respect.  The tours were funded by the U.S. Department of Defense, Hope’s television sponsors and by NBC….which was the network that broadcast the television specials created after each tour from footage shot on location…..however, the footage and shows were owned by Hope’s own production company….which made them very lucrative ventures for him, as outlined by writer Richard Zoglin in his 2014 biography “Hope: Entertainer of the Century.”  Hope sometimes recruited his own family members for USO travel. His wife, Dolores, sang from atop an armored vehicle during the Desert Storm tour, and granddaughter Miranda appeared alongside him on an aircraft carrier in the Indian Ocean.  Of Hope’s earlier USO shows during World War II, novelist John Steinbeck….who then was working as a war correspondent in 1943 wrote “When the time for recognition of service to the nation in wartime comes to be considered, Bob Hope should be high on the list. This man drives himself and is driven. It is impossible to see how he can do so much, can cover so much ground, can work so hard, and can be so effective. He works month after month at a pace that would kill most people.”                                                                                                                                                 

Comedy – 1952 – Bob Hope USO Christmas Tour In Korea – With Danny Kaye + Debbie Reynolds + Marilyn Monroe + Rachel Welch

For his service to his country through the USO, he was awarded the Sylvanus Thayer Award by the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1968….as the first entertainer to receive the award.  A 1997 act of Congress signed by President Bill Clinton named Hope an “Honorary Veteran”…..to which he remarked, “I’ve been given many awards in my lifetime, but to be numbered among the men and women I admire most is the greatest honor I have ever received.”  Bob Hope retired from public life in 1997 and died in 2003 at the age of 100 in his Toluca Lake home.                                                                                                

Comedy – 1985 – NBC Special – The Best Out-Takes From Thirty Plus Years Of Bob Hope Specials

Bob Hope was widely praised for his comedic timing and his specialization in the use of one-liners…. along with his rapid-fire delivery of jokes…..for he was known for his style of self-deprecating jokes…. while first building himself up and then tearing himself down…..when he performed hundreds of times per year.  Such early films as The Cat and the Canary (1939) and The Paleface (1948) were financially successful and praised by critics, and by the mid-1940’s, with his radio program getting good ratings as well, he was one of the most popular entertainers in the United States…..and when Paramount threatened to stop production of the “Road” pictures in 1945, they received 75,000 letters of protest….and albeit Hope had no faith in his skills as a dramatic actor……while his performances of that type were not as well received.  He had been well known in radio until the late 1940’s; however, as his ratings began to slip in the 1950’s, he switched to television and became an early pioneer of that medium.  He published several books, notably dictating to ghostwriters about his wartime experiences.                                                    

Comedy – 1978 – Dean Martin Celebrity Roast – With Don Rickles Roasting Bob Hope

Hope was well known as an avid golfer….who played in as many as 150 charity tournaments a year…..as he was introduced to the game in the 1930’s while performing in Winnipeg, Canada….and he eventually played to a four handicap….as his love for the game….along with the humor he could find in it…..made him a sought-after foursome member.  He once remarked that President Dwight D. Eisenhower gave up golf for painting…. “Fewer strokes, you know.”  He also was quoted as saying, “It’s wonderful how you can start out with three strangers in the morning, play 18 holes, and by the time the day is over you have three solid enemies.”  A golf club became an integral prop for Hope during the standup segments of his television specials and USO shows. In 1978 he putted against the then-two-year-old Tiger Woods in a television appearance with the actor Jimmy Stewart on The Mike Douglas Show. The Bob Hope Classic, founded in 1960, made history in 1995 when Hope teed up for the opening round in a foursome that included Presidents Gerald Ford, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton, the only time three U.S. presidents played in the same golf foursome.                                                                                                                            

Comedy & Golf – 1978 – The Mike Douglas Show – With Bob Hope + Jimmy Stewart + 2 Yr Old Tiger Woods


Golf – 1946 – Special Silent Footage Of Bob Hope and Bing Crosby Playing Golf At The Broadmoor

Hope had a heavy interest in sports beyond golf and his brief fling as a professional boxer in his youth. In 1946, he bought a small stake in the Cleveland Indians professional baseball team….and held it for most of the rest of his life.  He appeared on the June 3, 1963, cover of Sports Illustrated magazine wearing an Indians uniform….while singing a special version of “Thanks for the Memory” after the Indians’ last game at Cleveland Stadium on October 3, 1993.  He also bought a share with Bing Crosby of the Los Angeles Rams football team in 1947….but sold it in 1962.  He frequently used his television specials to promote the annual AP College Football All-America Team…..as the players would come onstage one by one and introduce themselves….as Hope often dressed in a football uniform….would give a one-liner about the player or his school….and with all of his affinity for sports….as I’ll bet a dollar to a hole in a donut that he never figured to be featured with his own salute by this lil ole chiweenie Sportsphile….so, with fond memories of Bone Daddy and his family all sitting around the television for a Bob Hope Special.  As I conclude this tribute to a true American treasure with the words of our Bone Daddy, the original Sportsphile, when he said….”I was born, raised and served in the US Army…..and I never met Bob Hope. But, every time I see this….I shed tears for what he did for all who served this country for generations….cuz it is hard to watch this each time since my glasses get messed up.”                                     

Comedy – 1985 – The Kennedy Center Honors – Tribute To Bob Hope


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