Few entertainers have ever dominated American life like Bob Hope. For over half a century, his wisecracking persona charmed audiences across every entertainment medium imaginable. On the vaudeville stage, Broadway ramps, cinema screens, radio dials, and television sets of millions, the man known as “Rapid Robert” rocketed to unprecedented fame with his breezy charm and trademark leer.
▬Contents of this video▬
00:00 – Intro
00:29 – Hope’s Rise to Fame
03:10 – Cracks Emerge in Hope’s Wholesome Image
05:06 – Changing Attitudes Leave Hope Behind
06:19 – A New Generation Dismisses Hope
07:42 – Outro
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Born in England in 1903 before immigrating to Ohio, Hope earned his show business stripes as an amateur boxer and vaudeville dancer before finding his true calling as a comedian. Hope’s big break came on Broadway in 1936’s Roberta, which vaulted him to stardom. Soon he conquered Hollywood and radio too, eventually starring in over 50 films while hosting America’s top-rated comedy show for nearly two decades.
During World War II, Hope cemented his legacy by performing nearly 200 USO shows for troops, becoming a hero to millions of servicemen. But as the smiling persona that made him a star in the 40s fell out of fashion during the turbulent 60s, Hope’s reputation took a major hit. As he continued performing stale comedy routines into his dotage, younger crowds increasingly viewed him as woefully out of touch and even offensive. By the time of his death in 2003, many derided Hope as an embarrassing relic.
In his fascinating rise and fall, Bob Hope embodied all of 20th-century show business. This magnum opus article explores the essential questions around Hope’s declining reputation, from whether he overstayed his welcome to charges of sexism and political missteps. It examines both the qualities that fueled his meteoric fame and the stubbornness that ultimately diluted his legacy. Love him or hate him, the phenomenon known as Bob Hope demands examination as a transcendent American cultural figure. Join us on an unflinching look back at the unbelievable career of comedy’s flawed superstar.
Why Nobody Liked Bob Hope Anymore by the Time He Died