- Honorary Degree (1974)
Doctor of Humane Letters
Presenter: John William Ryan
BIOGRAPHYSo internationally famous is Bob Hope that he is practically in the public domain, but he has special ties with Indiana University. In 1964, 1965, and 1967 he was the star of the annual Little 500 Variety Show and not only gave the audience memorable evenings but also left a special gift behind'the establishment of the Bob Hope Scholarship Fund with the fees that he had earned. In 1970 Mr. Hope served as the honorary chairman for Indiana University's Sesquicentennial Fund Drive which raised more than $52 million for scholarships, research, and special projects. Mr. Hope was back on campus as a professional entertainer for the 1971 Homecoming Variety Show in the then brand new Assembly Hall. Again he turned his fee over to the I.U. Scholarship fund bearing his name.
One of America's most enduring public figures, Bob Hope was christened Leslie Towne Hope in London, England, but dropped the more formal name shortly after his parents brought him to the United States when he was four. Educated in Cleveland public schools, he was soon scrambling for achievement in show business, serving his apprenticeship in the tough, competitive world of vaudeville. In the '30's he "made" Broadway, starring in "Roberta," "The Ziegfeld Follies," and "Red, Hot, and Blue." He moved on to Hollywood, playing in more than 40 movies. He became a star of radio, and a whole generation grew up believing he owned the song "Thanks for the Memories."
Mr. Hope took television right in stride, employing all the skills he had developed on the stage, on radio, and in the movies. His real love, however, is what is known in the entertainment business as the personal appearance. For three decades, in three different wars, he gave up Christmas seasons with his own family to fly to the far corners of the world'wherever American G.I.'s were manning lonely outposts. In such places as Germany, Korea, and Vietnam he brought hearty laughter to whole hillsides of homesick young Americans. But he also played to quiet hospital tents, and once, after a hazardous night-time landing on an airstrip in Alaska, he put on a special show for two appreciative searchlight operators who had guided the plane down. As an author Mr. Hope has had published: / Never Left Home (1944); They Got Me Covered (1941) ; So This Is Peace (1946); Have Tux, Will Travel (1959); Alias Jesse James (1959) ; and / Owe Russia $1J00 (1963).
Among his special awards are: Radio-Television Citation (1951); Variety Clubs International Humanitarian Award (1968); Peabody Award in recognition of three decades in broadcasting (1968) ; The Freedom Leadership Award of the Freedom Foundation at Valley Forge; and the Congressional Gold Medal (1961) to "Bob Hope, American Patriot...One of the great humanitarians of our time." Bob Hope has reached that pinnacle at which some men think of retirement. His is still the abiding desire to bring a bit of mirth to the lives of people...a lot of people.