Comedian Bob Hope, whose legendary career spanned eight decades and included stage, radio and television performances, and entertaining U.S. troops abroad, died at his home in Toluca Lake on Sunday night from complications from pneumonia. He had celebrated his 100th birthday just two months before.
Hope received a Dolphin Award from The Malibu Times in 1992 for agreeing to use his land in Corral Canyon as recreational open space, which saved the more than 300 acres from development. Sara Wan, former chair of the California Coastal Commission, accepted the award for Hope during the Second Annual Dolphin Awards presentation.
The fifth of seven brothers born to a stonemason and a former concert singer, Leslie Townes Hope was born on May 29, 1903, in Eltham, England. The family came to the United States in 1907, settling in Cleveland.
Following his break into show business at age 21, when he was booked by Fatty Arbuckle for a show called “Hurley’s Jolly Follies,” Hope went on to perform in vaudeville and numerous radio shows. He appeared with his good friend Bing Crosby in a series of “road” films, the first of which was “Road to Singapore” in 1940. Hope made 58 movies before turning to television, where he had a weekly program from 1955-1964, hosted 285 specials and 18 Academy Awards presentations.
The wisecracking stand-up comic was probably best known for bringing smiles to thousands of U.S. troops. His first show for servicemen and women was in 1941 at March Field near Riverside. In 1948 he began the annual Christmas shows with his entourage of singers and dancers at American bases overseas.
Hope was perhaps the most honored entertainer in history. At age 94, he became the first American designated by Congress as an honorary veteran of the United States Armed Forces. Other honors included the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 1959, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Kennedy Center in 1985, the Governor’s Award from the Emmys in 1994, and shortly before his 90th birthday, Hope received an honorary British knighthood.
Hope is survived by his wife, Delores, whom he married in 1934; sons Anthony and Kelly; daughters Linda and Nora; and four grandchildren.