Year
2003
Month Day
May 29

Bob Hope celebrates 100th birthday

Some 35 U.S. states declare it to be Bob Hope Day on May 29, 2003, when the iconic comedic actor and entertainer turns 100 years old.

In a public ceremony held in Hollywood, city officials renamed the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Avenue–famous for its historic buildings and as a central point on the Hollywood Walk of Fame–Bob Hope Square. Several 1940s-era U.S. planes flew overhead as part of an air show honoring Hope’s longtime role as an entertainer of U.S. armed forces all over the world. Hope, who was then suffering from failing eyesight and hearing and had not been seen in public for three years, was too ill to attend the public ceremonies. Three of his children attended the naming ceremony, along with some of his younger show-business colleagues, including Mickey Rooney.

One of the leading talents on the vaudeville scene by the 1930s, the London-born, American-raised Hope met his future wife (of nearly seven decades), the nightclub singer Dolores Reade, while he was performing on Broadway in the musical Roberta. They married in 1934, and four years later Hope launched his own radio program, The Bob Hope Show, which would run for the next 18 years. One of the country’s most popular comics, Hope had a successful film career largely thanks to the series of seven “Road” movies he made with Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour, including Road to Singapore (1940), Road to Morocco (1942), Road to Utopia (1946) and Road to Rio (1947).

In 1941, after America’s entrance into World War II, Hope began performing for U.S. troops abroad; he would play shows for more than a million American servicemen by 1953. Some 65 million people watched him perform for troops in Vietnam on Christmas Eve in 1966, in his largest broadcast. Hope also became a legend for his countless TV specials, which he would perform over the course of some five decades. He hosted the Academy Awards ceremony a total of 18 times, more than any other Oscars host.

Dubbed “Mr. Entertainment” and the “King of Comedy,” Hope died on July 27, 2003, less than two months after his 100th birthday celebration. He was survived by Dolores, their four adopted children–Linda, Anthony, Nora and Kelly–and four grandchildren.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Wisconsin enters the Union

Following approval of statehood by the territory’s citizens, Wisconsin enters the Union as the 30th state. In 1634, French explorer Jean Nicolet landed at Green Bay, becoming the first European to visit the lake-heavy northern region that would later become Wisconsin. In 1763, at ...read more

Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reach Everest summit

At 11:30 a.m. on May 29, 1953, Edmund Hillary of New Zealand and Tenzing Norgay, a Sherpa of Nepal, become the first explorers to reach the summit of Mount Everest, which at 29,035 feet above sea level is the highest point on earth. The two, part of a British expedition, made ...read more

Future President John F. Kennedy is born

One of America’s best-loved presidents, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, is born into a politically and socially prominent family in Brookline, Massachusetts, on May 29, 1917. He was the first American president to be born in the 20th century. In 1935, Kennedy enrolled at Harvard ...read more

Woody Harrelson’s father is arrested for murder

Judge John Wood, known as “Maximum John,” is assassinated outside his San Antonio, Texas, home as he bent down to look at a flat tire on his car. Actor Woody Harrelson’s father, Charles Harrelson, was charged with the murder after evidence revealed that drug kingpin Jimmy Chagra, ...read more

Danica Patrick becomes first woman to lead Indy 500

On May 29, 2005, 23-year-old Danica Patrick becomes the first female driver to take the lead in the storied Indianapolis 500. Having previously distinguished herself in the Toyota Atlantic series, Patrick had qualified fourth–another best for a woman–for the 89th Indianapolis ...read more

British Colonel Tarleton gives “quarter” in South Carolina

On May 29, 1780, the treatment of Patriot prisoners by British Colonel Banastre Tarleton and his Loyalist troops leads to the coining of a phrase that comes to define British brutality for the rest of the War for Independence: “Tarleton’s Quarter.” After the surrender of ...read more

Jews in Paris are forced to sew a yellow star on their coats

On May 29, 1942, on the advice of Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, Adolf Hitler orders all Jews in occupied Paris to wear an identifying yellow star on the left side of their coats. Joseph Goebbels had made the persecution, and ultimately the extermination, of Jews a ...read more

Controversial ballet Le Sacre du printemps performed in Paris

On the night of Thursday, May 29, 1913, the pioneering Russian ballet corps Ballet Russes performs Igor Stravinsky’s ballet Le Sacre du printemps (The Rite of Spring), choreographed by the famous dancer Vaslav Nijinsky, at the Theatre de Champs-Elysees in Paris. In founding the ...read more