Bob Hope, dead at 100 of being really old
CNN) -- Bob Hope, whose quick wit, daring personality and ski-sloped nose identified him as an icon of 20th-century entertainment, has died. He was 100.
Known as "Mr. Entertainment" or "the King of Comedy," Hope appeared in more than 75 films, starred in more than 475 TV programs and 1,000-plus radio programs. He also toured tirelessly for the U.S. armed forces.
He was one of the last of the great entertainers whose career took off in the first half of the 20th century and who continued to reach new generations of fans by the end of it.
Born Leslie Townes Hope on May 29, 1903, in Eltham, England, Hope was the fifth of seven sons of William Henry Hope and Avis Townes Hope.
After his family moved to Cleveland, Ohio, when he was 4, Hope got his first taste of show business in 1915 when he won a Charlie Chaplin imitation contest.
He took to vaudeville by the 1920s -- and started using the stage name "Bob" in 1928, dropping Leslie. His first Broadway performances came in the 1933 musical "Roberta."
Hope made it to the silver screen with "The Big Broadcast of 1938." He teamed with Shirley Ross on the Oscar-winning song "Thanks for the Memory." The tune became a signature theme for Hope.
Hope's film career really took off with the highly popular series of "Road" movies with Bing Crosby -- among them "Road to Singapore," "Road to Morocco" and "Road to Rio."
Movies only the beginning
But movies were just the tip of the iceberg in Hope's career as an entertainer. He also created and starred in an NBC radio show that went on for 18 years and 1,145 programs.
In 1941, he began visiting U.S. troops. In 1948, Hope held a Christmas show for the troops -- the first of many. By 1953, he'd performed before nearly 1 million servicemen at some 400 camps, naval stations and military hospitals around the world.
Television was not immune to Hope's charisma, either. In 1950, he signed a deal with NBC that eventually turned into 40-plus years of TV specials -- more than 475 programs and specials, many of which swept the Nielsen ratings.
Late in his career, Hope spoke to new generations of television viewers through his annual song, dance and comedy Christmas specials on NBC.
Hope also became one of America's most famous amateur golfers. "Golf is my real profession," Hope once said. "Show business pays my green fees."
Each year he hosted the Bob Hope Classic; the tournament, still played by tour pros, is now called the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic.
In 1997, Congress named Hope an honorary U.S. veteran, citing his decades of entertaining troops around the world. He is the only person to receive that distinction.
When informed of the honor, Hope was uncharacteristically serious. "I've been given many awards in my lifetime," he said, "but to be numbered among the men and women I admire the most is the greatest honor I have ever received."
Hope is survived by his wife, Dolores Hope, their four adopted children and four grandchildren.