Hope's career is one to be admired

Published 7:21 pm Wednesday, June 4, 2003

By By ROBERT BLANKENSHIP - Managing Editor
For most of us, it's hard to imagine living to see 100 years of life. This past weekend one of America's most beloved entertainers hit the century mark and his birthday reminds many of us of the joy that his long life has brought to each of us. Whether it was on the big screen or the small screen, on the stage or in front of troops in Vietnam, Bob Hope was always a professional who was out for one thing - a laugh.
Bob Hope always struck me as a contradiction. He appeared more like a Wall Street businessman than a standup comedian. Of course, I know Bob Hope mostly from his later years of entertaining when he held television specials. Along with the laughs, I recall him ending each show by singing "Thanks for the Memories." With each passing special it seemed he teared up a little more by the end of the song. I imagine many of those who grew up laughing along with Hope shared in those tears.
Hope was one of the brightest stars during America's golden era of television and movie theaters. He demonstrated true patriotism by traveling overseas during five different U.S. wars to provide a few laughs to our country's fighting men and women. Hopes talents was showcased during each decade of the 20th century. As a child in 1909 he entertained friends and family by impersonating the likes of Charlie Chaplin. His career expanded as did his audiences through a record-breaking 60-year agreement with NBC for television specials and appearances, no American entertainer has even come close to Hope's longevity and stamina.
While known for his USO adventures and support for the military, Bob Hope was not born a U.S. citizen. He was born in Eltham, England, the son of an Englishman and his mother was Welsh. According to Hope, "I left England at the age of four when I found out I couldn't be king."
He and his family moved to Cleveland where Hope went to high school and developed a stage act with local friends. He and one friend, George Byrne, took their act to New York where they played to large audiences. Hope's first taste from a big success was his role in a Broadway musical titled "Roberta."
In 1937, Hope signed a 26-week radio contract for the "Woodbury Soap Show" which was broadcast from NBC in New York. Later in the year, he traveled to Hollywood to film "The Big Broadcast of 1938." He was soon star of his own show which was rated number one with American listeners.
Soon came the movies and Hope was in a series of "Road to" films that made his star burn even brighter. In all, Hope starred in over 50 feature films. Although he has been awarded two honorary Oscars, two special awards and the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, Hope jokes that "Oscar night at my house is called Passover."
In today's world of disposable entertainers who are here one day and gone the next, Bob Hope is a breath of fresh air. Today, celebrities are a dime a dozen. Regardless of talent, many have become famous through reality shows, bizarre criminal activities or showing up on a talk show.
Bob Hope is truly one of a kind. His career is one that should be envied by entertainers in all fields and one that should be followed as an example. For fans, they will always have the memories of the laughter they shared with friends and family. For that, we should thank Bob Hope.

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