Eltham, England isn’t on the road to Singapore, Rio, Zanzibar, Bali, Hong Kong or Utopia. But it’s where Leslie Townes Hope – who would grow up to become a Hollywood institution – was born, on May 29, 1903. The fifth of seven children, his father was a stonemason and his mother an aspiring singer.
In 1907, the family moved to Cleveland, Ohio. Bob worked a lot of jobs: delivery boy for his brother’s meat market, a soda jerk, a shoe salesman. He even tried boxing – under the name of Packy East – but his real dream was being an entertainer.
He entered show business with a passion. Long before the word “multimedia” was coined, Bob Hope was everywhere, from Vaudeville to Broadway musicals (including a role in 1936’s Red, Hot and Blue with Jimmy Durante) to short films and radio.
Hollywood came calling and Hope signed to star in The Big Broadcast of 1938. Already committed to a radio contract for the “Woodbury Soap Show”, broadcast from New York, Bob had to do the show via wire between L.A. and New York.
Bob Hope’s quick wit, famous profile, and legendary timing have earned him a special place in the Pantheon of film comedy. Which is not to mention his place in the Guinness Book of Records: Bob Hope is the most honored entertainer in the world, with more than two thousand awards and citations for humanitarian and professional efforts, including 54 honorary doctorates.
For more than six decades, there was nobody else quite like Bob Hope.
And if you don’t know what we mean, watch as many Bob Hope movies as you can. When — and if — your sides stop hurting, you’ll know.