Bob Hope career highlights

1903: The fifth of seven sons, Hope is born Leslie Townes Hope in Eltham, England, on May 29.

1907: Family immigrates to Cleveland, Ohio.

1920: The Hopes become U.S. citizens. (Bob will later joke, “I left England at the age of 4 when I found out I couldn’t be king.”)

1915: Wins a Charlie Chaplin “Little Tramp” look-alike contest.

1921: After high school, Hope takes dancing lessons.

1922: Tries amateur boxing (as “Packy East”) and works briefly as a newspaper reporter.

1924: Leaves home at age 21, joining the musical dancing act “Jollie Follies” with the endorsement of headliner Fatty Arbuckle.

1925-26: The subsequent team of Lester (recently changed from Leslie) Hope and George Byrne tour small-time vaudeville theaters.

1927: He and Byrne are booked for Broadway show “Sidewalks of New York.”

1928: Decides to play the circuit as a “single,” but soon takes on yet another partner (Grace Louise Troxell).

1929: Changes his given stage name — to Bob. During this time, he’s given a screen test, but told his unconventional looks wouldn’t translate well in the movies.

1931-32: Plays New York’s Palace, one of the top venues on the vaudeville circuit. Appears on Broadway in the short-lived “Ballyhoo.” Emcees gigs at the Capitol Theater. Among the performers on the bill — one Harry Lillis (Bing) Crosby.

1933: Meets Dolores Reade while she’s singing at the Vogue Club in December 1933. They will marry within three months.

1935: Makes first major radio appearance on “The Intimate Revue.”

1936: Co-stars with Fanny Brice, Eve Arden and Josephine Baker star in the “Ziegfeld Follies.”

1937: Signs a 26-week radio contract for NBC’s “Woodbury Soap Show.”

1938: Begins using “Thanks for the Memory” as a theme song soon after the success of his debut film, Paramount’s “The Big Broadcast of 1938.”

1938: Headlines NBC’s Pepsodent radio show debuts, which will air for more than 10 years as a top-rated program.

1939: Paramount finds Hope his breakout starring vehicle in “The Cat and the Canary,” a comedy co-starring Paulette Goddard.
The Hopes adopt the first of their four children, Linda. Son Tony follows in 1940, then two more in 1946 — a girl, Nora, and a boy, Kelly.

1940: Appears with Crosby and Dorothy Lamour in “The Road to Singapore,” the first of the successful Road films.
Hosts the Academy Awards for the first time at the Ambassador Hotel’s Cocoanut Grove.

1941: Hope’s “Pepsodent Show” airs for the first time from a military installation, California’s March Field.
Hope’s tyro book, the humorous quasi-autobio “They Got Me Covered” is published — the first of 10 books Hope would write or co-write over the years.
Receives a silver plaque at the Oscars, the first of five special honors he’ll receive.

1942: Nine months after the U.S. enters WWII, Hope make his first overseas trip to entertain the armed forces.
Joins the Professional Golf Assn.’s National Advisory Committee.

1943: Hope’s show overtakes Jack Benny’s “Jell-O Show” as the No. 1-rated radio program.

1943: Makes his first trip to the combat zone with his small USO troupe to visit U.S. military facilities in England, Africa, Sicily and Ireland.

1944: Writes “I Never Left Home,” about his work entertaining the troops during WWII. More than 1.5 million copies are sold and it’s recorded as an album for Capitol Records.

1945: Renegotiates his Paramount contract so that Bob Hope Enterprises will be a producer on subsequent films.

1945: Utters his famous quote expressing skepticism about TV: “This will never catch on! What actor is going to give up his golf to study a script?”

1948: In December, Hope and other performers travel to Berlin to entertain those participating in the Berlin Airlift. This will be his first Christmas tour to entertain troops.
“Road to Rio” is the year’s highest-grossing picture, while “Paleface” finishes at No. 13 — the comedian’s best ever year at the wickets. “The Paleface” features Hope singing “Buttons and Bows,” which will go on to win the song Oscar.

1950: Makes his NBC debut April 9, his first national TV appearance. He agrees to be a regular host of “Star Spangled Revue.”

1952: The sequel “Son of Paleface” is a B.O. hit — it reps the comedian’s last pic to appear in the top 10 of its year.

1955: Appears in one of his best-reviewed film roles, playing vaudevillian Eddie Foy in the biopic “The Seven Little Foys,” for which Hope is also a producer.

1956: Does his last regular radio show in April. MGM’s “The Iron Petticoat,” co-starring Katharine Hepburn, opens.

1957: “Beau James” is another standout film role, with the actor portraying New York mayor Jimmy Walker.
Reups at NBC for what Variety calls an “unprecedented” $25 million, five-year deal encompassing 40 TV shows and five theatrical films.

1958: Travels to Moscow on a “goodwill” voyage — performing his material (after a Soviet-era censor board takes out the “offensive” material) and tapes the show for broadcast on NBC.

1959: The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences awards Hope with its honorary Trustees award.

1960: Hope, Crosby and Lamour reunite for their final “Road” pic, this time “… to Hong Kong.”

1962: President Kennedy presents Hope with the congressional Gold Medal reading “Bob Hope: Humorist, Humanitarian, Patriot.”

1963: NBC debuts the “Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre.” It will run through 1967.
The Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. awards him the Cecil B. DeMille lifetime achievement award.

1964: Embarks on his first comedy tour for military stationed in Vietnam and Southeast Asia, the first of nine Christmas tours in the region.

1965: Becomes chairman of the board of the Palm Springs Desert Classic golf tourney as the event is renamed the Bob Hope Desert Classic.
Screen Actors Guild awards him a lifetime achievement honor.

1966: “The Bob Hope Christmas Special” wins Hope his first competitive Emmy award.

1967: He is crowned man of the year by Harvard U.’s Hasty Pudding Theatricals.

1969: Travels with the “Around the World with the USO” entourage with perfs in Germany, Turkey, Thailand, South Korea and Vietnam. Hope trademarks his use of a golf club as a prop on stage.
President Johnson awards a Presidential Medal of Freedom to Hope.

1972: “Cancel My Reservation” opens to tepid reviews and business — it will end the fairly regular Hope appearances on the bigscreen.

1972: Hails his Vietnam trip as his “last Christmas show.” But each Christmas that follows, he is somewhere in the country doing a show at a military base or veterans hospital.

1976: Receives a Guinness World Record for the most honored individual at the time, with 52 laurels from various groups, including 44 honorary degrees. He will go on to rack up more than 2,000 awards and citations for humanitarian and professional efforts, including 54 honorary doctorates.

1976: By order of Brit Queen Elizabeth II, Hope is made an honorary commander of the Order of the British Empire for his services to British troops around the world during WWII.
Donates 350 acres of woodland near Thousand Oaks to the city of Los Angeles as a nature preserve.

1978: President and Mrs. Carter host a White House reception in celebration of Hope’s 75th birthday.
Emcees his last Academy Awards, commemorating Oscar’s golden anniversary.

1979: The Film Society of Lincoln Center gives him a lifetime achievement award.

1983: Hits the road to entertain the troops, this time in Beirut.

1984: The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences awards him the Governors Award.
Makes his last feature film appearance in a cameo in the Dan Aykroyd-Chevy Chase comedy “Spies Like Us.”

1985: Kennedy Center hosts a lifetime achievement honors ceremony for Hope.

1986: Makes his first and last appearance in a made-for-TV movie alongside Don Ameche in “A Masterpiece of Murder.”

1989: Joins another ex-vaudevillian, George Burns, for a one-night stand in New York.

1990: Hope holds his last Christmas tour for U.S. troops, this time those stationed in the Middle East ahead of the Gulf War.
Is inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame.

1991: On Easter, Bob and Dolores Hope host a “Yellow Ribbon Welcome Home Party” for 350 Marines and their families with a special show, guests, food and gifts.

1994: His “Bob Hope: The First 90 Years,” produced by daughter Linda, wins an Emmy.
Receives the American Comedy Awards’ lifetime achievement honor.

1995: President Clinton presents Hope with a National Medal of Arts.

1996: Earns a listing in the Guinness Book, this time for completing his 60th year under contract to the same network in radio and TV (NBC).

1997: Designated an honorary veteran for his humanitarian services to the U.S. armed forces by Congress. He is the only individual in history to have earned this honor.

1998: By order of Queen Elizabeth II, Hope receives an honorary knighthood — knight commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.

2000: Officially opens the Bob Hope Gallery of American Entertainment at the Library of Congress.

2001: The Pentagon presents Hope with the order of Horatio Gates Gold Medal for his lifelong contributions toward maintaining the high morale of soldiers around the world.
Hope retires his post as USO entertainment coordinator after serving for 50 years — Wayne Newton succeeds him.

2002: On his 99th birthday, the Chapel at the Los Angeles National Cemetery is named the Bob Hope Veterans Chapel.
The Bob and Dolores Hope Charitable Foundation establishes two acting fellowships at Columbia U. and creates the Bob Hope Endowed Fellowship Fund at the School of the Arts.

Major Sources: Bob Hope Enterprises (, the Library of Congress’ Bob Hope archives, “Bob Hope” by Lawrence J. Quirk, “The Secret Life of Bob Hope” by Arthur Marx

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