The path to Citizenship

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Bob Hope, born in England, became a U.S. Citizen

Miki's often more concerned with style, over the more pragmatic substance of any aspect of life.

He could be a leading man, if only he'd become a naturalized U.S. Citizen, just like Bob Hope.  Yes, there still is hope!

Sir Bob Hope KBE, KCSG, (May 29 1903July 27 2003), born Leslie Townes Hope, was a famous British-born American entertainer who appeared in vaudeville, on Broadway, on radio and television, in movies, and in performing tours for U.S. Military personnel.

British origins

Hope was born in Eltham, London, England, the fifth of seven sons. His English father, William Henry Hope, was a stonemason from Weston-super-Mare and his Welsh mother, Avis Townes, was a light opera singer but later had to find work as a cleaning woman. The family lived in Weston-super-Mare, then Whitehall and St. George in Bristol, before moving to Cleveland, Ohio in 1907. Hope became a U.S. citizen in 1920 when he was 17.

Early career

From the age of 12, Bob Hope worked at a wide variety of odd jobs at a local board walk. When not doing this 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. He also boxed briefly and unsuccessfully under the name Packy East. Fallen silent film comedian Fatty Arbuckle saw one of his performances and in 1925 got him steady work with Hurley's Jolly Follies. A year later Hope had formed an act called the Dancemedians with the Hilton Sisters, conjoined twins who had a tap dancing routine. After five years on the Vaudeville circuit, by his own account Hope was surprised and humbled when he and his partner Grace Louise Troxell failed a 1930 screen test for Pathé in Culver City, California. Hope returned to New York City and subsequently appeared in several Broadway musicals including Roberta, Say When, the 1936 Ziegfeld Follies and Red, Hot and Blue with Ethel Merman. His performances were generally well-received and critics noted his keen sense of comedic timing.His name was changed to "Bob", reportedly because people in the US were calling him "Hopelessly". His given name as stated above is Leslie.


Hope returned to Hollywood during the mid-1930s but at first was relegated to indifferently produced B-pictures and several one-reel comedies for Warner Brothers; however his movie career soon accelerated. In the 1938 film The Big Broadcast of 1938, during a duet with Shirley Ross, Hope introduced the bittersweet song later to become his trademark, Thanks for the Memory, which became a major hit and was praised by critics. The sentimental and fluid nature of the music allowed Hope's writers (whom he is said to have depended upon heavily throughout his career) to later invent endless variations of the song to fit specific circumstances, such as bidding farewell to troops whilst on tour. According to Hope, early during his film career a director advised him that movie acting was done mostly with the eyes, resulting in the exaggerated and rolling eye movements which characterized many of his onscreen performances.

Hope's regular appearances in Hollywood films and on radio made him one of the best known entertainers in North America and at the height of his career he was also making a large income from live performances. For example, during an eight-week tour in 1940 he reportedly generated $100,000 in receipts, a record at the time (this is the equivalent of $1.4 million dollars in 2006 money).

As a movie star he was best known for My Favorite Brunette and the highly profitable Road To movies in which he starred with Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour (whom he had first seen performing as a nightclub singer in New York and subsequently invited to work with him on his USO tours). Lamour is said to have shown up for filming fully prepared with her lines, only to be baffled by completely new material which had been written by Hope's own staff of writers without the studio's permission. Hope and Lamour were lifelong friends and she is the actress most associated with his film career along with others such as Lucille Ball, Jane Russell, and Katharine Hepburn.

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