Happy Birthday Norma Shearer

 

Yesterday was the 114th birthday of Norma Shearer.

NAME: Norma Shearer
OCCUPATION: Film Actress
BIRTH DATE: c. August 10, 1900
DEATH DATE: June 12, 1983
Did You Know?: Shearer was cast as Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind, but withdrew from the role.
PLACE OF BIRTH: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
PLACE OF DEATH: Woodland Hills, California
Full Name: Edith Norma Shearer
AKA: Norma Shearer
Nickname: First Lady of MGM
Nickname: First Lady of the Screen

Best Known For:  One of the biggest film stars of the 1930s, Norma Shearer was married to producer Irving Thalberg and won an Academy Award for her role in The Divorcee.

Edith Norma Shearer was born into a wealthy family in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, on August 10, 1900 (some sources state that she was born in 1902; others have stated 1904). After the family lost its money during World War I, Shearer’s mother decided that her pretty daughter becoming a star was the answer to their financial woes. Shearer, her mother and her sister proceeded to move to New York City.

Shearer was not immediately successful in New York. Florenz Ziegfeld turned her down when she auditioned for his Follies, saying, “You are not tall enough for a showgirl, and you cannot dance.” Shearer was also criticized for having thick legs and slightly misaligned eyes. Despite these setbacks, she persevered until she was cast in a few small film roles. Future MGM head of production Irving G. Thalberg noticed Shearer’s performance in The Stealers and signed her to a studio contract in 1923.

Shearer appeared in a few silent movies, but her time in Hollywood coincided with the transition from silent films to sound. She took the lead in MGM’s second “talkie” in 1929. Its success bolstered her career, as did her 1927 marriage to studio chief Thalberg. He may have helped her obtain the lead in The Divorcee, the film that earned Shearer her sole Academy Award (she was nominated for six Oscars during her career).

However, Shearer did not rely solely on Thalberg’s influence. Even as she became more popular, she worked hard to prepare for her roles. Shearer appeared in many films with stage and literary connections, including Noel Coward’s Private Lives (1931), as Elizabeth Barrett Browning in The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1934) and as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet (1936).

In 1936, Thalberg passed away. His death was not a surprise, as he had been born with a weak heart, but it was still a blow for Shearer. After taking a break from acting for 18 months—and despite the several million dollars that Thalberg had left her and their two children—Shearer went on to sign a new contract with MGM. Her first job after returning to work was the title role in Marie Antoinette (1938). She went on to impress critics and audiences alike with her performance in The Women (1939).

In 1942, Shearer made Her Cardboard Lover. It was her final film. After retiring from the movies, she married a ski instructor she had met while on vacation.

In 1980, declining health saw Shearer move into the Motion Picture and Television Country House hospital in Woodland Hills, California. She died there on June 12, 1983, at the age of 82. Although Shearer’s reputation had faded in comparison with those of contemporaries like Greta Garbo and Joan Crawford, she left behind a body of work that includes an array of impressive performances.

Happy Birthday William Powell

Today is the 122nd birthday of William Powell.

Annex - Powell, William (After the Thin Man)_01

NAME: William Powell
OCCUPATION: Film Actor
BIRTH DATE: July 29, 1892
DEATH DATE: March 05, 1984
EDUCATION: American Academy of Dramatic Arts
PLACE OF BIRTH: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
PLACE OF DEATH: Palms Springs, California
Full Name: William Horatio Powell

Best Known For:  William Powell was a baritone-voiced actor remembered for playing Nick Charles in The Thin Man films.

By 1936, William Powell was among the top 10 male box office attractions, and four of the five films in which he appeared that year received Oscar nominations, with Powell himself earning a nomination as best actor for his deft performance in the title role of My Man Godfrey. He is best remembered, however, as Nick Charles in The Thin Man series of films.

Happy Birthday Anjelica Huston

Today is the 63rd birthday of Anjelica Huston.  Third generation Academy Award winner? That is heritage. She is all angles and attitude, cheeks and confidence. Her beauty is intoxicating and addictive. Her longevity is something to admire and strive for.

NAME: Anjelica Huston
OCCUPATION: Film Actress, Television Actress
BIRTH DATE: July 08, 1951
PLACE OF BIRTH: Santa Monica, California

BEST KNOWN FOR: Anjelica Huston is an American actress, well known for starring as Morticia Addams in The Addams Family (1991) and for her collaborations with director Wes Anderson.

Anjelica Huston (born July 8, 1951) is an American actress. Huston became the third generation of her family to win an Academy Award, for her performance in 1985’s Prizzi’s Honor, joining her father, director John Huston, and grandfather, actor Walter Huston. She later was nominated in 1989 and 1990 for her acting in Enemies, a Love Story and The Grifters respectively. Among her roles, she starred as Morticia Addams in The Addams Family (1991) and Addams Family Values (1993), receiving Golden Globe nominations for both. Huston also played the Grand High Witch in the children’s classic The Witches in 1990 and is, more recently, known for her frequent collaborations with director Wes Anderson.

Anjelica Huston was born in Santa Monica, California, and is the daughter of director and actor John Huston and Italian–American prima ballerina Enrica ‘Ricki’ (née Soma), from New York. Huston spent most of her childhood in Ireland and England. She grew up in Saint Clerns House near Craughwell, County Galway. In 1969, she began taking a few small roles in her father’s movies. In that same year, her mother, who was 39 years old, died in a car accident, and Huston relocated to the US, where she modeled for several years. While she modeled, she worked with photographers such as Richard Avedon and Bob Richardson. On the photoshoots with Avedon, her hair was often done by Ara Gallant.

Huston has an older brother, Tony, a younger maternal half-sister named Allegra, whom she called “Legs”, and a younger paternal half-brother, actor Danny Huston. She is the aunt of “Boardwalk Empire” actor Jack Huston.

 

Happy Birthday Eva Marie Saint

Tomorrow is the 90th birthday of Eva Marie Saint.  If ever asked to pick my favorite “Hitchcock Blonde,” I would have a very hard time picking just one. Eva Marie Saint is one of them for sure, maybe the first. Her cool sexiness in North by Northwest is par none. My sister and I must have watched that film at least 25 times after school, it was the beginning of my obsession with Mid Century everything and that amazing Paramount VistaVision! You should also watch On The Waterfront to truly see her range, it is her first film and beyond legendary.

Born July 4, 1924  Newark, New Jersey, United States
Occupation: Actress

Eva Marie Saint (born July 4, 1924) is an American actress who has starred in films, on Broadway, and on television in a career spanning seven decades. She won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in the drama film On the Waterfront (1954), and later starred in the thriller film North by Northwest (1959), directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Saint received Golden Globe and BAFTA award nominations for the drama film A Hatful of Rain (1957) and won an Emmy Award for the television miniseries People Like Us (1990). Her film career also includes roles in Raintree County (1957), Because of Winn-Dixie (2005), and Superman Returns (2006).

Saint’s first feature-film role, at age 30, was in On the Waterfront (1954), directed by Elia Kazan and starring Marlon Brando – a performance for which she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Her role as Edie Doyle (whose brother’s death sets the film’s drama in motion), which she won over such leading contenders as Claire Trevor, Nina Foch, Katy Jurado, and Jan Sterling also earned her a British Academy of Film and Television Award nomination for “Most Promising Newcomer.” In his New York Times review, film critic Bosley Crowther wrote:

“In casting Eva Marie Saint – a newcomer to movies from TV and Broadway – Mr. Kazan has come up with a pretty and blond artisan who does not have to depend on these attributes. Her parochial school training is no bar to love with the proper stranger. Amid scenes of carnage, she gives tenderness and sensitivity to genuine romance.”

 

In a 2000 interview in Premiere magazine, Saint recalled making the hugely influential film:

“[Elia] Kazan put me in a room with Marlon Brando. He said ‘Brando is the boyfriend of your sister. You’re not used to being with a young man. Don’t let him in the door under any circumstances’. I don’t know what he told Marlon; you’ll have to ask him – good luck! [Brando] came in and started teasing me. He put me off-balance. And I remained off-balance for the whole shoot.”

The film was a major success and launched Saint’s movie career. She starred with Don Murray in the pioneering drug-addiction drama, A Hatful of Rain (1957), for which she received a nomination for the “Best Foreign Actress” award from the British Academy of Film and Television, and the lavish Civil War epic Raintree County (also 1957) with Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift.

Director Alfred Hitchcock surprised many by choosing Saint over dozens of other candidates for the femme fatale role in what was to become a suspense classic North by Northwest (1959) with Cary Grant and James Mason. Written by Ernest Lehman, the film updated and expanded upon the director’s early “wrong man” spy adventures of the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, including The 39 Steps, Young and Innocent, and Foreign Correspondent. North by Northwest became a box-office hit and an influence on spy films for decades. The film ranks number forty on the American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Greatest American Movies of All Time.

At the time of the film’s production, much publicity was gained by Hitchcock’s decision to cut Saint’s waist-length blonde hair for the first time in her career. Hitchcock explained at the time, “Short hair gives Eva a more exotic look, in keeping with her role of the glamorous woman of my story. I wanted her dressed like a kept woman – smart, simple, subtle and quiet. In other words, anything but the bangles and beads type.” The director also worked with Saint to make her voice lower and huskier and even personally chose costumes for her during a shopping trip to Bergdorf Goodman in New York City.

The change in Saint’s screen persona, coupled with her adroit performance as a seductive woman of mystery who keeps Cary Grant (and the audience) off-balance, was widely heralded. In his New York Times review of August 7, 1959, critic Bosley Crowther wrote, “In casting Eva Marie Saint as [Cary Grant's] romantic vis-a-vis, Mr. Hitchcock has plumbed some talents not shown by the actress heretofore. Although she is seemingly a hard, designing type, she also emerges both the sweet heroine and a glamorous charmer.” In 2000, recalling her experience making the picture with Cary Grant and Hitchcock, Saint said, “[Grant] would say, ‘See, Eva Marie, you don’t have to cry in a movie to have a good time. Just kick up your heels and have fun.’ Hitchcock said, ‘I don’t want you to do a sink-to-sink movie again, ever. You’ve done these black-and-white movies like On the Waterfront. It’s drab in that tenement house. Women go to the movies, and they’ve just left the sink at home. They don’t want to see you at the sink.’ I said, ‘I can’t promise you that, Hitch, because I love those dramas.'”

She has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, for motion pictures at 6624 Hollywood Boulevard, and television at 6730 Hollywood Boulevard.

Happy Birthday Olivia de Havilland

Tomorrow is the 98th birthday of one of the last living actors/actresses from the Golden Age of Hollywood:  Olivia de Havilland.

NAME: Olivia de Havilland
OCCUPATION: Film Actress, Pin-up
BIRTH DATE: July01, 1916
PLACE OF BIRTH: Tokyo, Japan
Full Name: Olivia Mary de Havilland
AKA: Olivia de Havilland
ZODIAC SIGN: Gemini

Best Known For:  Best known as Melanie in Gone with the Wind, actress Olivia de Havilland won Academy Awards for her roles in To Each His Own and The Heiress.

Born in Tokyo, Japan, actress Olivia de Havilland spent much of her youth in California. She moved there with her mother and younger sister, Joan, after her parents divorced. De Havilland caught her big break in 1933 with her stage role. Performing at the famed Hollywood Bowl, she played Hermia in a Max Reinhardt production of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

De Havilland earned the chance to reprise her role in 1935 film adaptation with Dick Powell and James Cagney. Along with her coveted part, she also landed a seven-year contract with Warner Brothers. The studio soon paired her with one of her frequent co-stars Errol Flynn. The duo first appeared together in the action-adventure tale Captain Blood (1935).

De Havilland continued to work with Errol Flynn, and they proved to be a popular on-screen couple. She played Maid Marian to his Robin Hood in 1938’s The Adventures of Robin Hood. While these films were entertaining, they did little to reveal de Havilland’s talents as a serious performer.

With 1939’s Gone with the Wind, movie audiences had their first real experience with de Havilland as a dramatic actress. This Civil War era drama, based on the Margaret Mitchell novel, proved to one of the top films of the year and has continued to enjoy enormous popularity since its release. De Havilland played the gentle and kind Melanie Hamilton opposite Vivien Leigh’s fiery Scarlett O’Hara. Both characters vied for the love of Ashley Wilkes (Leslie Howard), and Melanie won his heart. Scarlett eventually ended up with the dashing Rhett Butler (Clark Gable).

De Havilland earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Melanie, but she lost out to her fellow cast mate Hattie McDaniels. McDaniels became the first African American to win an Academy Award. Two years later, de Havilland scored another Academy Award nomination two years later for her role in the drama Hold Back the Dawn (1941) with Charles Boyer—this time as Best Actress. This time around, de Havilland lost out to her own sister who used the stage name of Joan Fontaine.

Over the years, de Havilland became increasingly frustrated with her situation at Warner Brothers. Good parts seemed to be few and far between, and she was relieved when her contract with the studio neared its end in 1943. Warner Brothers, however, subtracted time that she had been suspended while under contract and claimed that she owed them that time. Rather than comply, de Havilland battled Warner Brothers in court.

The case went all the way to the California Supreme Court in 1945, which reaffirmed a lower court ruling in favor of de Havilland. The case created the de Havilland rule, which limited the length of a contract to a maximum of seven calendar years. During her years away from the silver screen, de Havilland found work in radio and toured military hospitals to show her support to soldiers fighting in World War II.

After her hiatus, de Havilland quickly returned to top form with To Each His Own. Her turn as an unwed mother brought her the Academy Award for Best Actress. Delivering another impressive performance, de Havilland starred in 1948’s The Snake Pit. This film was one of the first to explore mental health issues, and de Havilland played a troubled woman who is sent to an insane asylum.

In The Heiress (1949), de Havilland lit up the screen as a wealthy young woman torn between her love (Montgomery Clift) and her father (Ralph Richardson). This adaptation of a Henry James story led to de Havilland’s second Best Actress Academy Award win. By the 1950s, de Havilland’s film career had slowed down.

Hush … Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1965) proved to be one of de Havilland’s more notable later roles. She shared the screen with fellow film legend Bette Davis in this acclaimed psychological thriller. In the 1970s, de Havilland appeared in the popular disaster film Airport ’77 and the killer bee horror movie The Swarm (1978) among other roles.

On the small screen, Olivia de Havilland made guest appearances on such programs as The Danny Thomas Hour and The Love Boat. She landed roles in such popular miniseries as Roots: The Next Generations (1979) and North and South, Book II (1986). Also in 1986, de Havilland had a supporting role in the television movie Anastasia: the Mystery of Anna, which earned her a Golden Globe Award.

With the dawning of the new century, de Havilland received another wave of accolades for her work. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences held a special tribute for her in 2006. Two years later, President George W. Bush gave de Havilland the National Medal of Arts. She earned the Legion of Honor award from French President Nicolas Sarkozy in 2010.

Olivia de Havilland lives in Paris, France, where she has resided since the mid-1950s. She has been married twice—first to writer Marcus Goodrich and later to Paris Match editor and journalist Pierre Galante. Both unions ended in divorce. With Goodrich, de Havilland had a son named Benjamin. Benjamin died in 1991. Her daughter, Gisele, from her marriage to Galante, works as a journalist in France.

Over the years, Havilland has been involved in one of Hollywood’s most longstanding feuds. She and her sister, Joan Fontaine, have reportedly not spoken to each other in decades.

Happy Birthday Billy Wilder

Billy Wilder was born 108 years ago tomorrow.  Do yourself a favor and throw a few of his films on your Netflix queue.  There are so many movies that you should watch, quite a few of them are directed by Billy Wilder. See “Sunset Boulevard,” Wilder’s tale of the true Hollywood that no one had dared to tell before. Make sure you watch the making of the film portion of the DVD, it is brilliant.

NAME: Billy Wilder
OCCUPATION: Director, Producer
BIRTH DATE: June 22, 1906
DEATH DATE: March 27, 2002
EDUCATION: University of Vienna
PLACE OF BIRTH: Sucha, Poland
PLACE OF DEATH: Beverly Hills, California
ORIGINALLY: Samuel Wilder

BEST KNOWN FOR: Billy Wilder is best known for the many films he directed and produced, like Some Like It Hot.

Billy Wilder (22 June 1906 – 27 March 2002) was an Austro-Hungarian born American filmmaker, screenwriter, producer, artist, and journalist, whose career spanned more than 50 years and 60 films. He is regarded as one of the most brilliant and versatile filmmakers of Hollywood’s golden age. Wilder is one of only five people to have won Academy Awards as producer, director, and writer for the same film (The Apartment).

He said, “The only pictures worth making are the ones that are playing with fire.”

Wilder became a screenwriter in the late 1920s while living in Berlin. After the rise of Nazi Party, Wilder, who was Jewish, left for Paris, where he made his directorial debut. He relocated to Hollywood in 1933, and in 1939 he had a hit when he co-wrote the screenplay to the screwball comedy Ninotchka. Wilder established his directorial reputation after helming Double Indemnity (1944), a film noir he co-wrote with mystery novelist Raymond Chandler. Wilder earned the Best Director and Best Screenplay Academy Awards for the adaptation of a Charles R. Jackson story The Lost Weekend, about alcoholism. In 1950, Wilder co-wrote and directed the critically acclaimed Sunset Boulevard.

From the mid-1950s on, Wilder made mostly comedies. Among the classics Wilder created in this period are the farces The Seven Year Itch (1955) and Some Like It Hot (1959), satires such as The Apartment (1960), and the drama comedy Sabrina (1954). He directed fourteen different actors in Oscar-nominated performances. Wilder was recognized with the American Film Institute (AFI) Life Achievement Award in 1986. In 1988, Wilder was awarded the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award. In 1993, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts. Wilder has attained a significant place in the history of Hollywood censorship for his role in expanding the range of acceptable subject matter.

Wilder holds a significant place in the history of Hollywood censorship for expanding the range of acceptable subject matter. He is responsible for two of the film noir era’s most definitive films in Double Indemnity and Sunset Boulevard. Along with Woody Allen and the Marx Brothers, he leads the list of films on the American Film Institute’s list of 100 funniest American films with 5 films written and holds the honor of holding the top spot with Some Like it Hot. Also on the list are The Apartment and The Seven Year Itch which he directed, and Ball of Fire and Ninotchka which he co-wrote. The American Film Institute has ranked four of Wilder’s films among their top 100 American films of the 20th century: Sunset Boulevard (no. 12), Some Like It Hot (no. 14), Double Indemnity (no. 38) and The Apartment (no. 93). For the tenth anniversary edition of their list, the AFI moved Sunset Blvd. to #16, Some Like it Hot to #22, Double Indemnity to #29 and The Apartment to #80.

Spanish filmmaker Fernando Trueba said in his acceptance speech for the 1993 Best Non-English Speaking Film Oscar: “I would like to believe in God in order to thank him. But I just believe in Billy Wilder… so, thank you Mr. Wilder.” According to Trueba, Wilder called him the day after and told him: “Fernando, it’s God.” French filmmaker Michel Hazanavicius also thanked Billy Wilder in the 2012 Best Picture Oscar acceptance speech for The Artist by saying “I would like to thank the following three people, I would like to thank Billy Wilder, I would like to thank Billy Wilder, and I would like to thank Billy Wilder.” Wilder’s 12 Academy Award nominations for screenwriting were a record until 1997 when Woody Allen received a 13th nomination for Deconstructing Harry.

Happy Birthday Bob Hope

Tomorrow is the 111th birthday of Bob Hope. For a man that was lucky enough to live to be 100, he packed in 200 years of living.

NAME: Bob Hope
OCCUPATION: Film Actor, Television Actor, Television Personality
BIRTH DATE: May 29, 1903
DEATH DATE: July 27, 2003
PLACE OF BIRTH: Eltham, United Kingdom
PLACE OF DEATH: Toluca Lake, California
ORIGINALLY: Leslie Townes Hope

Best Known For:  Bob Hope was a entertainer and comic actor, known for his rapid-fire delivery of jokes and for his success in virtually all entertainment media.

Born in 1903, Bob Hope was a British-born American entertainer and comic actor known for his rapid-fire delivery of jokes and one-liners, as well as his success in virtually all entertainment media and his decades of overseas tours to entertain American troops. Hope received numerous awards and honors for his work as an entertainer and humanitarian. He died on July 27, 2003.

Born as Leslie Townes Hope in 1903, Bob Hope reigned as the king of American comedy for decades. He started out his life, however, across the Atlantic. Hope spent his first years of life in England, where his father worked as a stonemason. In 1907, Hope came to the United States and his family settled in Cleveland, Ohio. His large family, which included his six brothers, struggled financially in Hope’s younger years, so Hope worked a number of jobs, ranging from a soda jerk to a shoe salesman, as a young man to help ease his parents’ financial strain.

Hope’s mother, an aspiring singer at one time, shared her expertise with Bob. He also took dancing lessons and developed an act with his girlfriend, Mildred Rosequist ,as a teenager. The pair played local vaudeville theaters for a time. Bitten by the showbiz bug, Hope next partnered up with friend Lloyd Durbin for a two-man dance routine. After Durbin died on the road of food poisoning, Hope joined forces with George Byrne. Hope and Byrne landed some work with film star Fatty Arbuckle and made it to Broadway in Sidewalks of New York in 1927.

By the early 1930s, Hope had gone solo. He attracted widespread notice for his role in the Broadway musical Roberta, which showcased his quick wit and superb comic timing. Around this time, Hope met singer Dolores Reade. The pair married in 1934. He again showed off his comedic talents in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1936. Later that year, Hope landed a leading part in Red, Hot and Blue, with Ethel Merman and Jimmy Durante.

In 1937, Hope landed his first radio contract. He got his own show the following year, which became a regular feature on Tuesday nights. Week after week, listeners tuned in to hear Hope’s snappy one-liners and wisecracks. He became one of radio’s most popular performers, and stayed on the air until the mid-1950s.

In the late 1930s, Hope made the jump to feature films. His first major role came in The Big Broadcast of 1938, in which he sang “Thanks for the Memory” with Shirley Ross. The song became his trademark tune. The following year, Hope starred in The Cat and the Canary, a hit comedic mystery. He played a sharp, smart-talking coward in this haunted house tale—a type of character he would play numerous times over his career.

In 1940, Hope made his first film with popular crooner Bing Crosby. The pair starred together as a pair of likeable con artists in The Road to Singapore with Dorothy Lamour playing their love interest. The duo proved to be box office gold. Hope and Crosby, who remained lifelong friends, made seven Road pictures together.

On his own and with Crosby, Hope starred in numerous hit comedies. He was one of the top film stars throughout the 1940s, with such hits as 1947’s western spoof The Paleface. Hope was often called upon to use his superior ad-lib skills as the host of Academy Awards. While he never won an Academy Award for his acting, Hope received several honors from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences over the years.

While his film career began to ebb in the 1950s, Hope enjoyed a new wave of success on the small screen. He starred in his first television special on NBC in 1950. His periodic specials became a long-standing feature on the network, managing to earn impressive ratings with each new show over a 40-year time span. Nominated several times over the years, Hope won an Emmy Award in 1966 for one of his Christmas specials.

During World War II, Hope began to regularly take time out of his film and television career to entertain American soldiers. He started out with a radio show he did at a California air base in 1941. Two years later, Hope traveled with USO performers to bring the laughs to military personnel overseas, including stops in Europe. He also went to the Pacific front the following year. In 1944, Hope wrote about his war experiences in I Never Left Home.

While he and his wife Dolores had four children of their own, they spent many of their Christmases with the troops. Vietnam was one of his most frequent holiday stops, visiting the country nine times during the Vietnam War. Hope took a break from his USO efforts until the early 1980s. He resumed his comedic mission with a trip to Lebanon in 1983. In the early 1990s, Hope went to Saudi Arabia to cheer on the soldiers who were engaged in the First Gulf War.

Hope traveled the world on behalf of the country’s servicemen and women, and received numerous accolades for his humanitarian efforts. His name was even placed on ships and planes. Perhaps the greatest honor, however, came in 1997: U.S. Congress passed a measure to make Hope an honorary veteran of the U.S. military service for his goodwill work on behalf of American soldiers.

By the late 1990s, Hope had become one of the most honored performers in entertainment history. He received more than 50 honorary degrees in his lifetime, as well as a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Kennedy Center in 1985, a Medal of the Arts from President Bill Clinton in 1995 and a British knighthood in 1998. The British-born Hope was especially surprised by the honorary knighthood, saying, “I’m speechless. Seventy years of ad-lib material and I’m speechless.”

Around this time, Hope donated his papers to the Library of Congress. He handed over his joke files, which he had kept in special file cabinets in a special room of his Lake Taluca, California home. These jokes—accumulating more than 85,000 pages of laughs—represented the work of Hope and the numerous writers that he kept on staff. At one point, Hope had 13 writers working for him.

In 2000, Hope attended the opening of the Bob Hope Gallery of American Entertainment at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. In the following years, he became increasingly frail. Hope quietly celebrated his 100th birthday in May of 2003, at his Taluca Lake home. There, he died of pneumonia on July 27, 2003.

President George W. Bush hailed Hope as “a great citizen” who “served our nation when he went to battlefields to entertain thousands of troops from different generations.” Jay Leno also praised Hope’s remarkable gifts: “impeccable comic timing, an encyclopedic memory of jokes and an effortless ability with quips.”

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