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Bob's Biography (Television)
Radio, movies, and a heavy schedule of personal appearances made Bob a star! But it was television that made him a super-star and a welcomed guest in every living room of America.
Although he flirted with the 'new' entertainment medium as early as 1932 for an experimental station for CBS; appeared on the first commercial television broadcast on the West Coast in 1947; and was a surprise guest on Ed Sullivan's "Toast of the Town" in 1949 -- Bob was a latecomer to TV, not at all convinced it would succeed.
Bob made his formal debut on NBC television Easter Sunday, 1950. Frigidaire sponsored the special, "Star Spangled Revue," which featured Bob's guest stars, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Beatrice Lillie, and Dinah Shore.
The formula, along with Bob's unshakable decision to avoid a weekly show, proved extremely successful. For 60 years (radio and television) Bob was an NBC headliner and Nielsen ratings king.
Bob has been honored and befriended by Presidents of the United States since Roosevelt. Hope's golfing buddies have been Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George Bush, and Bill Clinton. He was hailed as "America's most prized ambassador of goodwill throughout the world" when presented with the Congressional Gold Medal from President Kennedy. President Johnson honored Bob with the Medal of Freedom and President and Mrs. Carter hosted a White House reception in celebration of his 75th birthday. Harry Truman played the piano for him and Bill Clinton bestowed on him a Medal of the Arts.
Likewise he has been feted by his native England. Most recently in 1998, by order of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Bob received an honorary knighthood - Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (KBE) in recognition of his contribution to film, to song and to the entertainment of troops in the past. Upon hearing the news, Bob said, "I'm speechless. 70 years of ad lib material and I'm speechless."
Cited by the Guinness Book of Records as most honored entertainer in the world, Hope has more than two thousand awards and citations for humanitarian and professional efforts, including 54 honorary doctorates.