NBC's '100 Years of Hope & Humor'; Celebrating a Hope-Filled World

By McAlister, Nancy | The Florida Times Union, April 18, 2003 | Go to article overview

NBC's '100 Years of Hope & Humor'; Celebrating a Hope-Filled World


McAlister, Nancy, The Florida Times Union


Byline: Nancy McAlister, Times-Union staff writer

One of the most prolific and venerated entertainers of the 20th century, Bob Hope, celebrates his 100th birthday May 29. But first, famous friends will celebrate his life and work in the centennial prime-time special, 100 Years of Hope & Humor (7 p.m. Sunday, NBC).

Jane Pauley serves as host of the two-hour retrospective, which includes footage from the comedian's multimedia career.

On stage and in front of a microphone or camera, Hope has performed in vaudeville, on Broadway and in radio, film and television. His six-decade-long association with NBC began with a 26-week radio contract for the Woodbury Soap Show, broadcast from New York. In 1938, Pepsodent signed him to do his own show on NBC, which became a Tuesday-night hit. Hope made his debut on NBC TV on Easter Sunday, 1950, in a special titled Star Spangled Revue that featured guest stars Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Beatrice Lillie and Dinah Shore. That collaboration led to more than 290 comedy-variety specials over the years.

Among those paying homage during 100 Years of Hope & Humor are such show business veterans as Mel Brooks, Phyllis Diller, Jack Jones, Alan King, Don Rickles, Raquel Welch and Jane Russell. Representing the world of golf, which Hope has long been associated with as a player, spectator and author, are such notables as Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino and Tiger Woods.

Also on hand to share anecdotes are entertainers as varied as Alan Alda, Woody Allen, Harvey Fierstein, Kelsey Grammer, Steve Martin, Brooke Shields, Jay Leno and Martin Short and broadcasters Barbara Walters, Oprah Winfrey and Bob Costas.

The two hours will also include a tribute from President George W. Bush and a segment featuring the 11 presidents Hope entertained. In his eighth book, Don't Shoot, It's Only Me, Hope offered thanks to U.S. presidents from Franklin Roosevelt to the first President Bush, "who remained my friends even after what I said about them."

Hope earned the nicknames "G.I. Bob" and "America's No. 1 Soldier in Greasepaint" for his performances before the U.S. military. Hope first performed for the troops in May 1941 and began his Christmas shows in 1948, when he was asked to entertain the men involved in the Berlin Airlift. …

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