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Last Updated: Monday, 28 July, 2003, 15:15 GMT 16:15 UK
Bob Hope's one-liners
Hope's jokes have been the cornerstone of his showbiz act
Bob Hope was regarded by fans and peers alike as a master of the stand-up gag. From a wide repertoire, here is a small selection of his wit and wisdom:

On childhood:

  • I left England at the age of four when I found out I couldn't be king.

  • It was a typically British birth... I was three at the time. They had a strike in the maternity ward... I came out in sympathy.

    Growing up:

  • We were kind of poor and my mother hated to spend a nickel on herself, so she bought most of her things in an army-surplus store. She was the only woman in Cleveland wearing khaki lipstick.

  • Our neighbourhood was tough. We had the typical gang. You know, Shorty, Fatso, Skinny, Stinky. Then there were the boys.

  • A rather chubby lady walked by and the panhandler went into his pitch and he said, "Ma'am I haven't eaten in three days". She said, "Gee I sure wish I had your willpower".

  • Bob Hope at the BBC
    Hope honed his joke-writing craft for BBC shows in the 1940s and 50s
    I was well on my way to being a juvenile delinquent. When I was 16, I had more hubcaps than General Motors.

    On getting older:

  • It feels great to be nearly 100. I mean, for those parts of me that still have feeling. I do the same things I did when I was 50. I just take a nap after each one now.

  • I used to keep my birthday a secret but I decided to stop. I wasn't getting any presents

  • I'm never going to retire. I intend to be cracking jokes on my way to the grave.

  • I consider myself very fortunate. I owe everything to my family and my make-up man. My wonderful family keeps me going and my wonderful make-up man keeps me from looking like I already went.

    On his stagecraft:

  • Those were really tough times. I wouldn't have had anything to eat if it wasn't for the audience throwing stuff at me.

    On his films:

  • I would have won the Academy Award if not for one thing - my pictures. Oscar night at my house is called Passover.

  • I remember my staff asking me when I was going to retire. I said when I could no longer hear the sound of laughter. He said: "That never stopped you before".

    On Vietnam:

  • The Vietnam War finally ended in an agreement neither side intended to honour. It was like one of Zsa Zsa Gabor's weddings.

  • As soon as I arrived in camp they gave me a 10-gun salute - or so they told me on the operating table.

    Bob Hope entertaining US troops in Vietnam, 1970
    Some of Hope's most famous stand-up routines were in Vietnam
    On US politics:

  • Unless the boys in Washington do something about inflation fast, the odds are 2-1 that five will get you two. The dollar's been stretched so far, George Washington now has a space between his teeth.

    On American life:

  • Two people just split $39m in the California lottery... Can you imagine winning $39m? I break out in a rash when I win a free Egg McMuffin at McDonald's.

  • Where else but in America could the Women's Liberation Movement take off their bras, then go on TV to complain about their lack of support?

  • We never buy live turkeys at our house any more. One year I brought one home. The kids fell in love with it and I ended up putting it through Harvard.

    On showbiz colleagues:

  • When they asked Jack Benny to do something for the Actor's Orphanage - he shot both his parents and moved in.

  • In my lifetime I saw the Berlin Wall come and I saw it go. George Burns can say the same thing about the Ice Age. (Burns died aged 100 in 1996.)

  • The Crickets, the Beatles ... at least it answers the question where our new talent is coming from ... under the kitchen sink.

  • Elvis is just a young, clean-cut American boy who does in public what everybody else does in private.


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