Bob Hope was an elder statesman of comedy whose extraordinary career spanned vaudeville, Broadway, radio, television, movies, books and makeshift concert platforms in war zones.
Hope ranked among the top 10 box-office stars for 13 consecutive years, from 1941 to 1953, topping the list in 1949. He starred in 50 feature films and countless short subjects and promotional films. During the '30s, '40s, '50s and early '60s, Hope was one of the best and brightest of the film comedians, delivering one-liners with a rat-a-tat-tat precision while demonstrating some of the best timing on the screen.
Because he came out of vaudeville and Broadway, Hope was also a fine hoofer — he once operated his own dance school — and an equally adept singer who introduced two Oscar-winning best songs: "Thanks for the Memory" and "Buttons and Bows." Hope also debuted the Oscar-nominated holiday tune "Silver Bells."
Hope made 58 movies in all, including such classics as "The Ghost Breakers," "The Paleface," "Monsieur Beaucaire" and "Fancy Pants." He even went dramatic with good results as Eddie Foy Sr. in 1955's "The Seven Little Foys" and as the colorful New York mayor Jimmy Walker in 1957's "Beau James."
Although he never won an Oscar for acting, he was honored four times by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for his contributions to the world of entertainment. He also received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 1959. He began emceeing the Oscars in 1940, and for years hosted the televised Academy Award presentations, opening his first in 1953 with the line "Television. That's where movies go when they die."
Until his final years, Hope was almost constantly on the road, playing shows and benefits in the United States and on military bases in far-flung corners of the Earth.
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