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Bob Hope, a great comedian

It was July 5, 1974, in Johnson City, Tennessee at Freedom Hall Civic Center that my wife Mary and I had the privilege of attending a special appearance of Bob Hope, whom I consider to be one of the greatest comedians of my time. Hope didn’t disappoint. He kept the jokes coming in rapid-fire succession and laughter was a prominent member of the audience during his show which lasted an hour or longer. As was usual, Hope had a great deal of fun with jokes toward local dignitaries, molding some of his gags about some of the more famous folks of the area. Seeing the Bob Hope show was an experience that has become a pleasant memory over the years.
Of course, I had long been a fan of his, first through the medium of Radio and Television and also through his work on the “Big Screen.” Perhaps Hope’s greatest claim to fame was his frequent trips to entertain America’s military personnel in distant lands, boosting their morale at a time when they really needed it. Hope also took several well-known entertainers with him as he traveled to military installations around the world.
He was born Leslie Townes Hope in London, England in 1903. Hope’s family moved to Cleveland, Ohio when he was four years old. He became a vaudeville performer in the early 1920s and made his Broadway debut in 1927 with Sidewalks of New York During the 1930s and 1940s, he starred in a popular radio show. I remember anticipating the show as time seemed to stand still until Hope’s show came on our table-top battery-powered Philco radio. He appeared in more than 50 motion pictures. His first feature film was The Big Broadcast. It was in that picture that he sang” Thanks for the Memory.” It became Hope’s theme song. He received five special Academy Awards for his humanitarian activities and for his services to the film industry.
Hope’s father was a stonemason. After moving to America, Hope worked as a soda jerk and a shoe salesman to help his parents who were struggling financially.
His mother shared her knowledge with him about show business. She had aspirations of becoming a singer. In 1938, which happens to be the year of my birth, hope got his own radio show. That show aired each Tuesday night and lasted until the mid-‘50s.
Bob Hope received more than 50 honorary degrees in his lifetime. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Kennedy Center in 1985, a Medal of the Arts from President Bill Clinton in 1995, and a British knighthood in 1998. Hope celebrated his 100th in May of 2003 at his home in the Taluca Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles.
He passed away at his home on July 27, 2003.