Remembering When Comedian Bob Hope Made This Huge Career Choice in 1950

The Star-Spangled Revue R-SPANGLED REVUE, Bob Hope, host, (aired April 9, 1950).
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It is hard to believe that there was ever a time when Bob Hope wasn’t on television during his lifetime. Rumor has it that he was actually against appearing on TV at first while he was a radio personality and in the vaudeville circuit. However, he made his national TV debut on NBC on April 9, 1950, when he agreed to be a regular host of the variety show Star Spangled Revue. The show was broadcast live from New York and took inspiration from Hope’s radio show full of skits, musical performances, and monologues.

While these days, Saturday Night Live is one of the only live variety shows left, in the 1950s they were commonplace. Many performers had experience on the radio or on stage, so it made sense to translate that into live television with variety shows. Despite Hope’s initial hesitation, his show became a huge success. Soon, the show was renamed The Bob Hope Special and aired bi-weekly on NBC. From 1950 until 1996, Hope did well over 250 television programs for NBC.

The Bob Hope Show Bob Hope, host, (Season 4, 1953), 1950-1979.

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In 1955, Hope starred in his first televised holiday tour for the troops called Hope in Greenland and would continue doing such tours for many years. His 1969 Christmas tour called Bob Hope in Vietnam was one of his most-watched specials in 1970. He went on to have a fulfilling career and once joked, “I’ve been given a medal by my country for leaving it, an Oscar in a year when I didn’t make any movies, and a B’nai B’rith Award for being a Gentile.”

The Bob Hope Show Bob Hope, host, imitating Maurice Chevalier, who is a guest on his show, (aired December 7, 1954), 1950-1979.

Everett Collection

He died in 2003 at the age of 100. His final special was called Laughing with the Presidents, featuring host Tony Danza. The 1996 special showed Hope’s unique perspective of the presidents of the United States as he visited the White House frequently during his career and met many presidents. What is your favorite Bob Hope special or show?

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