Bob Hope dies at 100

July 29, 2003 at 7:01 AM   |   0 comments

TOLUCA LAKE, Calif., July 28 (UPI) -- Venerable and venerated comedian Bob Hope has died at his Toluca Lake, Calif., home, his publicist Ward Grant said. He was 100.

He died of pneumonia Sunday night in his sleep with his family by his bedside.

The king of the one-liner, Hope entertained generations on stage, in films and on radio and television.

Hope was born the fifth of seven sons as Leslie Townes Hope in Eltham, England, on May 29, 1903. His father was a stonemason; his mother, Avis Townes Hope, an aspiring concert singer.

The family moved to Cleveland, Ohio, in 1907, and Hope changed his name to "Bob" in 1920.

"I left England at the age of four when I found out I couldn't be king," he joked.

Hope's films were among the most successful comedies in Hollywood history, especially the "Road" films he made with Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour.

Hope starred in 55 feature films and eight short subjects. The first was "Going Spanish," a short made at Long Island's Astoria Studios by Jack Skirball. A quip he made about "Going Spanish" angered the producer.

"If they ever catch John Dillinger, they ought to make him sit through it twice," Hope wisecracked. Skirball read the comment in Walter Winchell's column and canceled Hope's contract for two additional shorts.

He was the first to confess a battery of writers was responsible for the million jokes he told in his more than 60 years as a comedian.

Even so, Hope provided a good deal of the material for his TV shows and personal appearances.

His own favorite jokes generally were political jibes, especially involving American presidents. He enjoyed kidding the Russians, too, but was uncertain of their reception in the USSR.

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