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Bob Hope

Biography

An icon of the 20th century, Bob Hope ruled on stage, radio, film and TV for the majority of his career. Besides the remarkable professional (and biological) longevity, Hope was also a comic trailblazer, blueprinting the part of the modern comic anti-hero, a character whose greed and lust is thwarted only by extreme cowardice and a nagging itch to do good. Hope not only made this unseemly character very funny, he also made him very likable. While audiences may long to identify with such screen heroes as John Wayne, Gary Cooper or Tom Cruise, deep down they are probably a lot closer to Bob Hope's scheming comic persona. Hope has been cited as major comic inspiration by everyone from animator Chuck Jones (Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny's interplay mirrored Bob Hope and Bing Crosby's cinematic relationship), to Woody Allen, who has always gone out of his way to mention Hope as the foundation of his own character. Like many comedians, Bob Hope was a complicated man and living or working with him wasn't always easy. But Hope remained well aware of his roots (born poor in England and raised poor in America) and was involved in charity throughout his life not only giving money, but donating much of his time to educating and entertaining others. The most famous aspect of that dedication was with his tireless efforts putting together star-studded USO shows for American troops around the world at Christmas time. Hope did this indefatigably across the decades, not seeming to care that he was performing in combat zones, peaceful European fields or in severe weather conditions. A couple of generations came to know Hope just as an old guy who would appear on TV and on talk shows from time-to-time, but his radio shows, movies and TV appearances from the 1940s and '50s have held up remarkably well and they still can make people laugh. Bob Hope died in 2003, at the age of 100. His theme song, "Thanks For the Memories," became a standard.
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