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Thursday, May 7, 2009
Two of the best Hollywood had to offer. Younger folks may or may not know their names and even fewer saw them perform. James "Jimmy" Cagney and Robert "Bob" Hope
Bob Hope. Born as Leslie Townes Hope 29 May 1903 in Eltham, England he died 27 July 2003 of pneumonia
Bob Hope was a triple-threat superstar of radio, film and television during the 1940s and 1950s. Primarily a comedian, Hope also acted, sang and danced a little, hosted his own radio and television shows, and carried on a famous comic feud with his friend and fellow star, crooner Bing Crosby. Hope spent much of World War II travelling the world to entertain Allied troops, a service he also performed with gusto during later wars in Korea, Vietnam, and the Middle East; his entertain-the-troops tours became one of his enduring signatures. Though his superstar years ended in the 1960s, Hope continued to make appearances well into the 1990s. In May of 2003 he celebrated his 100th birthday with a typical wisecrack: "I'm so old they've cancelled my blood type." He died a few months later, in July 2003.
Hope never won an Oscar for a film performance, but received five honorary Academy Awards for his contributions to the motion picture industry... He was a frequent host of the annual Academy Award ceremonies... Hope's love of golf was famous, and his annual golf tournament, the Bob Hope Desert Classic, became a regular stop on the PGA Tour... Hope was born in England but was raised in Cleveland, Ohio after his family moved there when Hope was four years old... Hope married Dolores Reade in 1934, and they remained married until his death in 2003; the couple adopted four children: Linda, Anthony, Honora (called Nora), and William Kelly... "Thanks For the Memory" was Hope's theme song; the tune came from his first feature film, The Big Broadcast of 1938.
James Francis Cagney. Born July 17, 1899, New York City's Lower East Side, second of five children. Had numerous jobs (and fights) while growing up.memory
Graduated high school, ambition was to become an artist.
Attended Columbia University School of Fine Arts, began appearing in plays put on by Lenox Hill Settlement House.
By 1920 was hired as chorus boy on Broadway. Met Frances "Billie" Vernon, married in 1921, marriage lasted 65 years. Adopted two children in 1940 - a boy named James, Jr., and his sister Cathleen, called Casey.
Toured in vaudeville, had parts in dramas and in musicals, gradually worked his way up to starring roles. One, Penny Arcade, sold to Warner Bros, made as Sinner's Holiday -- Cagney signed to a contract on the strength of that performance.
Fifth film for Warner's was The Public Enemy (1931) -- Cagney became, and stayed, one of studio's top stars for over 20 years. Made films for MGM, Paramount, Universal in the '50s, retired from acting in 1961 -- with one return to the screen in 1981's Ragtime.
Modest, private man off the screen. Lived out his childhood dream of residing on a farm, staying close to the land, from the '30s til the end of his life.
James Cagney died on March 30, 1986.