Bob Hope: Thanks Indeed for The Memory

Oddly, an Englishman has turned out to be America’s most famous immigrant. Granted that all of us whose ancestors have crossed the shores from other lands and passed the gray and gleaming grace of Lady Liberty are the descendants of immigrants, it is still an interesting fact because Bob Hope was the quintessential American in every way.

According to Guinness World Records, Bob Hope was without question the most honored entertainer in history. During his career, which spanned more than five decades, he amassed more than 2,000 awards, citations, honorary degrees, a Congressional Gold Medal, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and an undisclosed but questionable number of holes in one.

Even after his death in July of 2003 at the age of 100, his life and achievements are still being celebrated. An exhibit depicting his life and humor can be seen at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, and last year, he got his own postage stamp! The Bob Hope Memorial Library has officially been opened at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum.

Who was this Englishman who won the hearts of so many Americans?

Born Leslie Townes Hope in Eltham, England, he sailed with his family to New York City in 1907 when he was 4 years of age. They traveled in steerage on board the SS Philadelphia. He and his and his five brothers dressed in several layers of undergarments and socks so they would have more clothes to wear and their mother less to carry.

The family settled in Cleveland, where Les made money selling newspapers and giving dance lessons before breaking into vaudeville and changing his name to Bob. He then moved on to Broadway, the world of radio, motion pictures, television, etc.

For the man born in England who traveled in steerage to America at the dawn of the last century, Bob Hope symbolizes all that is good and lasting and worthwhile about the American dream.

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