Leslie Townes, better known as Bob Hope, was a British-American comedian, actor, singer, dancer, and vaudevillian. He was born in May 1903 and died at the age of 100 in July 2003. After moving with his family from London to Cleveland, Ohio, he spent his early teenage years busking to earn pocket money. He made several appearances in Broadway shows, eventually making his on-screen debut with the 1934 comedy Going Spanish. Hope became widely known for his role in the successful Road to… films beginning in 1940 and for hosting the Academy Awards 19 times. Throughout his life, he had been awarded over 2,000 honors and awards including the Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (KBE), the Academy Honorary Awards, and the People’s Choice Awards for Favorite All-Time Entertainer. According to Celebrity Net Worth, Hope had accumulated a net worth of $150 million at the time of his death.
From his hilarious comedies, ranging from romantic comedies to horror, here is a ranking of his best films.
10. The Cat and the Canary
This horror story follows a group of acquaintances as they gather at the house of the late millionaire Cyrus Norman to read his will. Worried about the history of insanity in his family, Cyrus gives his entire estate to Joyce Norman, but stipulates that she must survive 30 days in his mansion without going mad. Amid strange deaths and suspicion, Joyce must stay alive and sane till the 30 days are over. However, the rest of the group stand to gain if she loses her mind.
9. My Favorite Blonde
Hope stars as an actor named Larry Haines who departs on a train to California in search of fame and recognition, but is seduced along the way by the beautiful blonde Karen Bentley. Karen is a British secret agent who had inherited a mission from her partner. Cornered by Nazi agents trying to get the secret codes from her, she plants the codes on Larry as he boards his train. With the Nazi agents believing Larry and Karen are colleagues, the duo is forced to work together to escape and complete the mission.
8. Son of Paleface
The 1952 western comedy film tells the story of Peter Junior Potter and is the sequel to the 1948 film The Paleface. Peter is a Harvard graduate that hears that his father has left him a chest full of gold and heads back home to inherit his father’s fortune. However, he finds out his father has been riddled with debt and he must find a way to pay it all back. Nevertheless, Peter pretends to have the chest of gold and this news attracts the attention of a gang leader named “The Torch”, who is a wanted criminal. Amid love, lies, and secret identities, Peter must make a choice that could forever change his life.
7. The Lemon Drop Kid
The Lemon Drop Kid tells the story of the titular swindler who, while illegally touting horses at a Florida racetrack, meets a beautiful woman who intended to bet on a horse called Iron Bar. He convinces her to switch her bet and she loses her money, but it is revealed that she had bet in place of her boyfriend Moose Moran, a notorious gangster. Moran threatens the Kid to recover what he would have won by Christmas Eve or die, and this sends the Kid into a scamming frenzy to try and recover the money.
6. Road to Singapore
The first film of the popular Road to… series, Road to Singapore tells the story of a love-hungry trio. Best friends and sailors Josh Mallon and Ace Lannigan escape from getting forced into an arranged marriage. They try to run to Singapore via Hawaii but both fall in love with the beautiful dancer Mima after meeting her. As the three become closer, Josh’s father and fiancée show up to drag him back home and Mima is forced to decide on which sailor she loves most.
5. The Princess and the Pirate
The film tells the story of Princess Margaret who had run away from home to marry a commoner. Abducted by The Hook, a notorious pirate, and taken aboard his ship, Margaret meets The Great Sylvester, an actor disguised as a gypsy woman. Sylvester had been kidnapped by the ship’s tattoo artist known as Featherhead. Feeling cheated after finding out Sylvester was actually a man, Featherhead orders him to steal The Hook’s secret treasure map and escape with both the map and Margaret.
4. The Paleface
Calamity Jane is brought out of a sheriff’s jail by U.S. government officials to go undercover and capture a wanted gunrunner called Terris in exchange for a full pardon on all her past crimes. When the plan to capture Terris falls through and her life is put on the line, Jane hitches a ride with Peter Painless Potter, a dentist fleeing the town. To keep up her new cover, she marries Potter, but is soon kidnapped by a tribe of Native Americans, and the cowardly Potter needs to become a hero to save her.
3. My Favorite Brunette
This rom-com tells the story of death row prisoner Ronnie Jackson, a baby photographer who dreamed of becoming a private detective. He is soon mistaken for one by Baroness Carlotta Montay who is in search of her husband. She hires Ronnie to find her husband and gives him a ring worth $5,000 as a down payment. The inexperienced Ronnie takes on the job and is soon entangled in a scheme that could cost him his life.
2. Road to Morocco
The third film of the Road to… series follows Jeff Peters and Orville “Turkey” Jackson, two friends who wash up on an island after surviving a ship explosion. The starving Jeff sells Turkey into slavery at a Moroccan marketplace in exchange for food. Jeff later finds that Orville had been re-sold to the beautiful princess Shalmar who seems to have fallen in love with him, and when Jeff also falls for Shalmar, the two friends try to win her hand.
1. The Ghost Breakers
Mary Carter becomes the new owner of a mansion located near the Cuban Coast, and while preparing for her trip, she receives a call telling her that the mansion is haunted. Nonetheless, Mary sets off for Cuba with radio announcer Larry Lawrence stowed away in her trunk. When she finds him, Larry promises to help Mary get to the bottom of the mysterious happenings in the mansion.