Now Performing in the Rocky Top Theater
167 East Wears Valley Road Suite #17 (Shops of Pigeon Forge) Pigeon Forge, TN 37863
Born: May 29, 1903, Eltham, United Kingdom
Died: July 27, 2003, Toluca Lake, Los Angeles, CA
Bob Hope was born in Eltham, London, England, the fifth of seven sons. His father, William Henry Hope, was a stonemason from Weston-super-Mare, his Welsh mother, Avis Townes, worked as a cleaning woman. The family lived in Whitehall and St George in Bristol, before moving to Cleveland, Ohio, in 1908.
His name at birth as registered during the July–August–September quarter in the Lewisham district of Greater London was Leslie Towns Hope.
The family emigrated to the United States aboard the SS Philadelphia, and passed inspection at Ellis Island on March 30, 1908. Hope became a U.S. citizen in 1920 at the age of 17.
In 1918, at the age of 15, Hope was admitted to the Boys Industrial School in Lancaster, Ohio. Formerly known as the Ohio Reform School, this was one of the more innovative, progressive institutions for juvenile offenders. As an adult, Hope donated sizable sums of money to the institution.
From the age of 12, Bob Hope worked at a variety of odd jobs at a local boardwalk. He would busk, doing dance and comedy patter to make extra money.
He entered many dancing and amateur talent contests and won prizes for his impersonation of Charlie Chaplin. Hope also boxed briefly and unsuccessfully under the name Packy East (after the popular Packey McFarland), once making it to the semifinals of the Ohio novice championship.
Silent film comedian Fatty Arbuckle saw one of Bob Hope's performances with his first partner, Lloyd "Lefty" Durbin, and in 1925 got the pair steady work with Hurley's Jolly Follies. Within a year, Hope had formed an act called the Dancemedians with George Byrne and the Hilton Sisters, conjoined twins who had a tap dancing routine. Hope and his partner, George Byrne, had an act as a pair of Siamese twins as well, and both danced and sang while wearing blackface, before friends advised Hope that he was funnier as himself.
In 1929, he changed his first name to "Bob". In one version of the story, he named himself after racecar driver Bob Burman. In another, he said he chose Bob because he wanted a name with a friendly "Hiya, Fellas!" sound to it.
Bob Hope first appeared on television in 1932 during a test transmission from an experimental CBS studio in New York. In January 1947, Hope was master of ceremonies for the first telecast by California's first television station, KTLA. His career in broadcasting spanned 64 years and was mainly with with NBC.
Hope made his network radio debut in 1937 on NBC. His first regular series for NBC Radio was the Woodbury Soap Hour. A year later, The Pepsodent Show Starring Bob Hope began, continuing as The New Swan Show in 1948. After 1950, the series was known simply as The Bob Hope Show, It finally went off the air in April 1955.
Bob Hope closed his shows by singing "Thanks for the Memories"
If you remember watching Bob Hope on TV and listening to him on radio or watching him in the movies then you probably remember Red Skelton. If you like that silly slapstick from the golden age of television then next time in Pigeon Forge go see Brian Hoffman's Remembering Red - A Tribute to Red Skelton.
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