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Bob Hope: Hollywood’s Brightest Star

A production of Redrock Management Services, Inc. in association with Simitar Entertainment, Inc.

This PBS documentary of Bob Hope as an entertainer was well done. It looks at Bob’s contributions as an actor, comedian, dancer and humanitarian. The film’s footage, from the early 1900’s to present, is revealing to the eras of Bob Hope’s career. It takes you through Bob’s career in vaudeville, Broadway, radio, movies, television and live performances. As narrator Les Brown Jr. states ” Bob Hope is an American icon and the only entertainer to be # 1 in all facets of the entertainment field”. This documentary is proof that this statement is true.

The narrator starts off with a biography of Bob Hope, while showing scenes of the early 1900’s. Bob was born in 1903 in England, who migrated to the United States with his parents and six brothers in 1907 and settled in Cleveland, Ohio. By age six, Bob was already doing impersonations of Charlie Chaplin. Bob took dancing lessons from a vaudeville entertainer named John Root and was soon entering talent contests all over town.

At age eighteen, Bob had started a dance act with his girl friend Millie Rosequest, but it did not last long. Bob soon teamed up with another dancer named George Burd. They took their act to New York and worked at a lot of vaudeville show houses. It was at one of these places where Bob was asked to do the announcing in between acts. Bob’s comedic talent and acts took hold and lead to the beginning of his solo career. In less than five years Bob had become the most sought after talent and the # 1 hit in the vaudeville circuit.

Bob’s success in vaudeville caught the eye of many Broadway producers. He was soon signed to do a Broadway show called Roberta. This lead to many more offers and to Bob doing a year tour with the Ziegfield Follies. Bob was now considered to be the hottest act around and was being recruited by radio stations and movie studios.

In 1937, Bob signed a twenty-six week contract with NBC radio to do the Woodbury Soap Show. Since Bob was such a big hit NBC gave him his own radio show, The Bob Hope Show. Bob would do a monologue to start the show, then bring out other actors and perform skits. Bob would get his Hollywood friends to come on the show and perform with him like Lana Turner, Judy Garland, Abbott and Costello. By 1940, Bob Hope was the # 1 act in radio.

In 1938, Paramount Pictures recruited Bob to be in The Big Broadcast with W.C. Fields and Martha Ray. After the movie’s great success Paramount Pictures signed Bob to a long-term contract. Bob would go on to do such movies as Facts of Life and Fancy Pants with Lucille Ball and How to Commit a Marriage with Jackie Gleason. Bob’s most famous movies were the Road to ???? series, with Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamor. These movies brought them all great success and made them all # 1 box office stars.

In 1941, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt went to Hollywood for support of World War II and the troops. That is when Bob started his traveling shows all around the world for the troops. He would continue these shows for over fifty years, especially during World War II, Korean War and Vietnam. Bob would visit injured troops and bring news back to their families in the states.

As the television era began and radio was losing it’s appeal, Bob started a monthly television show. Now he was able to do all his radio acts to a viewing audience. Bob would do guest spots on others stars shows, they in return would come on his show. Upon ending his radio show, NBC wanted Bob to do a weekly TV show, but he refused and continued with his monthly show. His most famous were the Christmas Specials, which he did for seventeen years and ended each one with the song Silent Night. They were the # 1 rated shows for any given year.

Bob hosted the academy awards fourteen times, but never was nominated. He did receive awards from the Academy: in 1941 a service award, in 1954 an honorary award, in 1961 a humanitarian award and a 1966 gold medal for unique and distinct service. Bob has also received over 1000 awards and citations for his unselfish humanitarian, civic and charity contributions. Bob has meet and performed for 11 different Presidents from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Bill Clinton and received some of his awards from them.

The film narration and footage was excellent. The narrators facts along with footage from each phase of Bob Hopes career was well put together. The film had many clips of Bob performing, like with Lana Turner on his radio show and of Bob performing on an aircraft carrier with Bing Crosby. It showed how Bob Hope is a great part of American history. It also shows how a man came to the United States and with hard work was able to become one of the greatest entertainers of all time.

” Bob Hope, himself has become an American institution. He is the warm spot in all Americans hearts.” Les Brown Jr.


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