Issue Date: May 29, 2009
City: San Diego, CA
Bob Hope’s career stretched from vaudeville in the 1920s to a 1996 television appearance on Laughing with the Presidents. However, the British-born comedian’s greatest legacy was the gift of laughter he brought to millions of American service men and women stationed far from home.
Hope (1903-2003) gained fame with the release of his first feature film, The Big Broadcast of 1938. The movie featured his signature song, “Thanks for the Memory,” which was a major hit. Hope became one of Paramount Picture’s biggest stars, appearing in the popular “Road” movies with Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour, and seen regularly on television.
In 1941, Hope performed his first United Service Organizations (USO) show in California. He went on to headline about 60 star-studded tours, entertaining U.S. troops serving overseas during World War II, the Korean, and Vietnam Wars. His final USO trip was Operation Desert Storm. He was 87.
Hope received many tributes during his lifetime, including a 1997 Congressional act naming him an “Honorary Veteran.” Of the award, Hope said, “I’ve been given many awards in my lifetime – but to be numbered among the men and women I admire most – is the greatest honor I have ever received.”