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Bob Hope: His Classic Television Performances

Bob Hope is hands-down the most acclaimed, honored and versatile entertainer in show business history. During his seventy-plus years in the entertainment industry, Hope earned more than two thousand awards and recognitions for his various professional and humanitarian work, including an honorary knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II, a Congressional Gold Medal from President Kennedy, the Medal of Freedom from President Johnson, and fifty-four honorary doctorates. Hope's Christmas specials, USO shows, radio and television programs, and regular appearances on numerous sitcoms and variety shows have some of the highest ratings of any primetime telecasts. Because of this well-deserved praise, it is difficult to choose only a few television appearances as the "Best Of" Hope's career. Instead, it is better to look at the huge variety of shows Hope appeared on and why this versatile performer became America's most beloved entertainer.

Born in England May 29, 1903, Hope and his family traveled to America in 1908 aboard the SS Philadelphia. Ironically, Hope was a relative latecomer to television; he dabbled in experimental broadcasts with NBC in the 1930s but held off almost twenty years before starting his illustrious career. He began his official television career on Easter Sunday, 1950, on NBC. His specials, most of which were sponsored by the Chrysler corporation, were often hysterically unscripted variety programs that featured such guest stars as Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Marilyn Monroe and Dina Shore.

Christmas Specials

Hope got significant recognition for his gut-busting Christmas specials. These specials ran for years and featured duet performances of "Silver Bells" by Hope and adorable young guest stars, such as Olivia Newton-John and Brooke Shields. The most memorable Bob Hope Christmas specials were, without a doubt, his 1970 and 1971 episodes. Filmed in front of military audiences at the height of the Vietnam War, these specials actually aired in January -after Hope was back in the United States-- and were seen by more than sixty percent of television-viewing households in America. Like his other Christmas specials, the Vietnam shows were all about celebrating the traditional joy, peace and good cheer of the season. His use of humor, beautiful women and talented performers were a welcome respite from the horrors of the war itself.

USO Performances

Hope is probably best known for his performances for the United Service Organization (USO), beginning with his USO debut at March Field, California, on May 6, 1941. Hope performed USO shows throughout World War II, prompting acclaim from such contemporaries as John Steinbeck. "It is impossible to see how he can do so much," Steinbeck wrote in 1943, "can cover so much ground, can work so hard, and can be so effective." Hope continued his USO shows during the Korean War, Vietnam War and Persian Gulf War, heading roughly sixty tours in total. Because of his tireless dedication to the overseas troops, Hope was awarded the impressive Sylvanus Thayer Award by the U.S. Military Academy in 1968. He was named an Honorary Veteran by a 1997 act of Congress, signed by President Clinton, a recognition Hope referred to as "the greatest honor I have ever received."

Sitcom Appearances

Hope also appeared on a number of popular television programs during his career. Hope did a guest spot on America's favorite TV show of the 1950s, "I Love Lucy". Supposedly, Hope balked at the idea of using a script. He ad-libbed the entire episode, legend goes, giving one of his best performances in the process. He also appeared on the Danny Thomas Show, the Jack Benny Show, the Ed Sullivan Show, the Donny & Marie Show, and others.

Saying Good Bye

Hope bid a nostalgic farewell to his television audiences in 1996 with "Laughing with the Presidents," a special he co-hosted with Tony Danza. In this special, Hope gave a very personal tribute to the U.S. presidents he had known and worked with during his career; Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, Kennedy, Johnson, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and others. The show was a fitting and entertaining good-bye to the hardest working entertainer in American history.

It's not surprising that Bob Hope was so heavily recognized for his work. Radio and television programs, USO shows, Christmas specials, books, movies; the man did it all. He helped the world smile during troubling times. He lent his celebrity status to good causes. He championed humor and fun as the best tool in achieving peace at home and abroad. Hope wasn't only a great entertainer; he was an amazing humanitarian.

~Ben Anton, 2008


Top 5 Most Famous Cartoon Mascots

A cartoon mascot is a great for a company to build brand recognition through their advertising. A mascot allows a company to basically display it's personality in values for the entire world to see in a fun and related form. Mascots can continue to grow and develop through the times right alongside the company, giving people something that they can always relate to. Below you'll find a list, in no particular order, of some of the most famous and memorable cartoon mascots to ever exist.

1. Mr. Clean
A lot of people think that the idea behind Mr. Clean is that he's some sort of 'cleaning genie' -given his single ear-ring, folded arms, and seemingly magical cleaning powers. However, he was actually based on a United States naval officer. This character is memorable for his muscled physique, friendly smile and, of course, ability to clean dirt and grime.

2. Tony the Tiger
Originally designed in 1952, Tony the Tiger is one of the most prominent among the many different breakfast cereal related characters. His catchphrase, 'They're g-r-r-r-eat!' is instantly recognizable to kids and adults alike. Actually, the Tony we see today is really Tony Jr., a sleeker and more sport-oriented mascot, who replaced his more whimsical dad. The modern Tony appears to be something of an extreme sports enthusiast, and is always seen encouraging kids to get out and be active.

3. Charlie the Tuna
The mascot of StarKist tuna, Charlie was based on an actor and friend of his designed named Henry Nemo. He's most notable for his thick glasses, red beret hat, and of course his good taste. He was the source of another popular catchphrase, 'Sorry, Charlie' which was said in the 1980s commercials because Starkist was looking for good tasting tuna, not a tune with 'good taste.'

4. The Pillsbury Doughboy
Officially named 'Poppin' Fresh,' the Pillsbury Doughboy is a ball of dough shaped like a little person, with a chef's hat and scarf. He is most famous for his memorable, high-pitched giggle that he makes when you poke him in his belly. He's not technically a cartoon mascot -he was conceived as an animated character but he was actually brought to life by stop-motion in the early commercials, and CGI these days.

5. Joe Camel
Joe Camel, or 'Old Joe' is a very controversial character, but no less famous for it. Joe represented Camel cigarettes and he existed as an icon of pure coolness before the company had no choice but to get rid of him -many people complained that his 'cool' persona attracted kids to smoking. His use in Camel was discontinued in 1997, but he still remains a recognizable character for many people.

There are literally hundreds more cartoon mascots that, over the years, have become engrained in people's hearts and minds. While cartoon mascots are still great, many companies are now utilizing other types of media to create mascots that are just as full of personality and just as memorable.


Classic Television Moments With Johnny Carson

The 30-year run of Johnny Carson as host of The Tonight Show was both memorable and historic. It was the setting for a number of classic TV moments remembered by television watchers of several generations. Though many people remember Carson for his hilarious characters and skits, he was not one to shy away from controversial topics when it was something that he truly believed in. Many of his best-known moments have been captured on various classic TV DVD's, enabling fans of Carson to watch their favorite bits over and over again.

One of Johnny Carson's best known moments, one that demonstrated to the world just how quick his wit really was, happened two years after he began his run on The Tonight Show. On April 29, 1965, Ed Ames of the Daniel Boone television series was Carson's guest. Ames was demonstrating how to throw a tomahawk using a wooden silhouette of a man, and when he threw the tomahawk it landed squarely in the silhouette's crotch. As the crowd laughed, Carson quipped, "I didn't even know you were Jewish." This piece of classic television comedy was so popular that it was often replayed on the show's anniversary.

Other classic moments on The Tonight Show revolved around some of the recurring characters that Johnny Carson portrayed, often with the help of Ed McMahon. Quite possibly the most famous of these classic television characters was Carnac the Magnificent, a mentalist played by Carson who would claim to be able to answer questions sealed in envelopes without ever seeing the question. The answers, of course, would never be straight answers and would instead be puns. When the audience didn't like one of the jokes, he would respond with equally outlandish curses, such as "May a diseased yak befriend your sister." Carson had a number of other popular characters as well, such as Floyd R. Turbo, Ralph Willie, and Aunt Blabby.

Not all of the comedy sketches that Carson did contained these repeating characters. There were a number of one-shot skits which appeared on the classic television show, including Carson's portrayal of Hamlet delivering the famous "To be or not to be..." soliloquy. In the Johnny Carson version, however, were a number of product advertisements which flowed directly from the famous Shakespearean lines to create one of the funniest portrayals of the play to date.

In addition to providing laughs and unexpected punchlines, Carson would from time to time use his show as a means of exposing scams and fakes who were taking advantage of the public at large. Famed psychic Uri Gellar appeared on the show in 1973. Carson himself set up the props for Gellar's act without Gellar or his manager being able to see them before filming. Despite Gellar's claims of having genuine mental powers, he was unable to reproduce his usual tricks with the props that Carson provided. This method of proving Gellar a fraud had been suggested by Carson's friend James Randi, a trained stage magician (like Carson himself) who later appeared on the show in 1987 to expose the supposed faith healer Peter Popoff. Though Popoff claimed that his knowledge of the audience's problems came from "Godly visions", Randi provided Carson and his audience with video that showed Popoff's wife describing the people for him to heal via a microphone which broadcast to a speaker hidden in his hearing aid.

Other classic TV moments on The Tonight Show included visits from zoologists such as Joan Embery and Jim Fowler. They brought animals which Carson would often interact with in some way; many episodes featured Carson being crawled on by smaller animals. One famous incident often shown as a clip featured Carson leaning down too close to a panther's cage which caused the cat to swipe at him with its paw. Carson ran across the stage and jumped into Ed McMahon's arms for comedic effect.

When Johnny Carson retired from the show, his final episodes were considered major events. The most sentimental moment came on the next-to-last of his episodes. Bette Midler and Robin Williams were his guests. After Carson revealed in conversation some of his favorite songs, Midler began to sing one. The song soon became a duet between her and Carson. She finished her appearance by singing "One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)." An emotional Carson began to tear up on camera. This historic and touching moment was caught on film using a long camera angle never used in the previous 30 years of Carson's run. One of his most emotional classic moments became a historic milestone in late night television filming.

Carson was an amazing entertainer, a charismatic personality and a moment maker. His appeal as a celebrity and a comedian carries on to future generations as classic television shows become available on DVD.

~Ben Anton, 2008


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