by Hunter Scott, National Youth Representative, World War II Veterans Committee

America’s No. 1 Soldier, Bob Hope, Dies at 100

“A member of my staff asked me when I was going to retire,” Bob Hope once said. “I told him, ‘When I can no longer hear the sound of laughter.’ He Said, ‘That never stopped you before’.”

“G.I. Bob” may no longer be able to hear the laughter, but his laughter still lingers and his legacy still remains in the hearts of so many of those whose lives he touched. Six years of his professional career as a comedian and entertainer were proudly spent boosting American morale during World War II. Six decades were spent honoring America’s servicemen. To Bob Hope, America and her military bases were his stage, and America’s heroes were his audience.

Bob passed away Sunday, July 27, 2003 due to pneumonia. “It was really quite a lovely evening… You couldn’t ask for a more beautiful and peaceful time. And at 100 you are a little bit prepared and know that it’s not going to be too much longer,” Linda Hope commented to the press on Monday, July 28. “I can’t tell you how beautiful and serene and peaceful it was, and the fact that his family was around really warmed dad’s heart.”

Bob Hope’s career as an entertainer began at age eighteen when his then girlfriend and he worked for eight dollars a night dancing at nearby vaudeville houses. One year later Bob found himself partnered with George Byrne doing tab shows in New York City and in 1927 the team hit Broadway appearing in “The Sidewalks of New York.” Bob first gained national stardom however, for playing the roll of Huckleberry Haines in the hit Broadway Musical, “Roberta.” He went on to star in many other Broadway plays, Warner Bros. Films, and in 1938 he scored big with Paramount Pictures in “Red, Hot, and Blue.”

Throughout his career Bob made over seventy films. Of these motion pictures, he is best known for “The Road to Singapore” and “The Road to Hong Kong.” He also appeared at the Academy Awards at least twenty times, and flew over ten million miles to do stand-ups at military bases. Not only was Bob an American Icon, he was a world traveler as well.

Many folks remember Bob Hope for his comic routines performed at military bases all over the world. His first of these was in May of 1941, when Bob and four friends went to March Field, California, to perform a radio show for the airmen. Throughout the war, all except for two of his shows were performed at US military bases. These military shows eventually earned Bob the title of “America’s No. 1 Soldier.”

During World War II and Vietnam, troops were amused in England, France, Sicily, Ireland, Africa…and the list continues. “I guess I have my critics everywhere,” Bob said after a bomb blew up at his hotel just before he checked in. He never lost his sense of humor, or his witty jokes. He was once recorded as telling forty-four jokes in four minutes. The complete Bob Hope Joke File consists of over 85,000 pages of jokes and dialogs.