Skip to main content

Bob Hope Collection

Identifier: MSS 0519

Scope and Content

Bob Hope saved everything connected to his long career. Family mementos, awards, photographs, posters, handbills, costumes, fan letters and handmade gifts, recordings (various formats), newspaper and magazine clippings, scripts, signed letters and photos from world leaders and celebrities, ephemera and artifacts pertaining to his wife, Dolores, and their children, film posters and lobby cards, sheet music and concert orchestrations, scrapbooks and photo albums, golf clubs, golf bags and scorecards, comic books, biographies and autobiographies, jewelry, etc. make up the colorful, eclectic, historic Bob Hope Collection at the University of Florida.


  • Creation: 1890 - 2020



The collection is mostly open for research.

Two restricted boxes of material (Box 373 and Box 374) have been compiled and include a JAPANESE SWORD IN SHEATH (1940), a 7TH INFANTRY BAYONET AWARD (1962), a 571ST TRANS. DET ACFT MAINTENANCE ARMED HELICAPTER 68TH Commando Knife (1964), an AMERICAL DIVISION - VIETNAM AWARD PLAQUE – WITH ATTACHED COMMANDO KNIFE (1969), a FORT WAINRIGHT- FAIRBANKS, ALASKA "Mile-Long" Scroll (c. mid 1960s), a MEDBOUGH, MOHAMED Ornate Dagger in Leather Case (c. late 1960s/early 1970s), etc.. PLEASE SPEAK TO THE ARCHIVIST FOR INFORMATION ON THESE MATERIALS.

Biographical/Historical Note

The 80-year career of Bob Hope, a giant of 20th Century show business history, is documented in the Bob Hope Collection. The archive highlights the iconic entertainer’s contributions to vaudeville, the Broadway theatre, radio, film, recordings and television, as well as his annual Bob Hope Christmas shows brought to the frontlines of the Second World War, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, Beirut and Operation Desert Shield. In support of the United Service Organization (USO), Hope entertained active-duty personnel in war zones for half a century, from 1941 to 1991. In wartime and peacetime, the Bob Hope Christmas tours were welcome and, in later years, sometime controversial diversions. Hope’s rapid-fire delivery crammed jokes into a performance, with an underlying witty skepticism and just enough brashness to set him apart from performers with gentler personalities. His showmanship resonated with millions of Americans during World War II and throughout the following decades in which the United States economy and military power expanded in influence around the world.

Born Leslie Townes Hope in England in 1903, Bob Hope immigrated with his family to the United States at a young age. Over a long career in his adopted country, he became a household name, who could do it all, through his singing, dancing and legendary comedic timing with self-deprecating one-liners and commentary on world events. His top-rated radio and television shows and specials dominated broadcasting in the 20th Century and the programs were “can’t miss” events for decades. Hope was among the pioneers of today’s politically engaged mass-media celebrity culture, bringing formidable talent and exposure to the causes he supported. Roger Zoglin, Time Magazine’s senior entertainment editor, in his critically-acclaimed biography of Bob Hope named him “Performer of the Century” and he states that “the Bob Hope style and presentation helped establish modern stand-up comedy…He told his writers to read the papers — come up with lines about what's happening in the world or what's happening in Bob Hope's life — his golf game or his friendship with [Bing] Crosby…This whole idea of having standup comedy week after week that actually drew on the outside world was, believe it or not, something new in the 1930s and 1940s. That, of course, is what every standup comedian does today..."

Bob Hope appeared in more than 70 short and feature films and for over 20 years, he was a top-ten fixture in box office polls, as a solo star, or most memorably teaming with Bing Crosby in a series of blockbuster “ROAD” pictures. The duo travelled on the Roads to Singapore, Zanzibar, Morocco, Utopia, Rio, Bali and Hong Kong between 1940 and 1962. In addition to his comedy output, Hope appeared in two memorable dramatic biopic roles. The first as vaudeville and Broadway showman Eddie Foy in “The Seven Little Foys,” in 1955 and in 1957, he portrayed Jimmy Walker, NYC’s corrupt mayor of the Roaring 20s, in BEAU JAMES. He was Hollywood’s and America’s favorite host especially for the annual Oscar telecast, which he emceed a record 19 times beginning in 1939, and he set the high standard for future hosts of the event.

Bob Hope was the foremost commentator on American life and times, in the 20th Century, and he was a friend to eleven Presidents who sought and enjoyed his good-natured political barbs aimed at both Republicans and Democrats. Bob Hope witnessed great changes in entertainment and culture and played a major role in the performing arts and world history. When Bob Hope died, at age 100, in 2003, this American institution was still front page news and his legacy is preserved at the University of Florida.


409.5 Linear Feet (418 boxes, unboxed oversize artifacts stored on storage shelves, 4 map/poster case drawers and 2 clothing/costume racks)

Language of Materials



The Bob Hope Collection documents, through collected ephemera and artifacts, the life and career of the legendary performer throughout the 20th Century and his 100 years (1903-2003).


Please note that this collection is housed in the Auxiliary Library Facility off campus and will require advance notice for timely retrieval. Please contact the Special and Area Studies Collections department prior to your visit.

Acquisition Information

A gift-in-kind donation of a vast portion of Bob Hope research materials and artifacts to the University of Florida Department of Special & Area Studies Collections from Linda Hope (daughter of Bob Hope) and the Bob & Dolores Hope Foundation, in March 2020, with the agreement that the University of Florida will process and make available, to UF classes, faculty, researchers and the general public, this fascinating, colorful and important archive pertaining to the life of Mr. Bob Hope. Placement of the collection at the University of Florida will ensure preservation of and access to an historical assemblage of international significance. The collection will support teaching and research pertaining to Bob Hope’s many contributions to American culture and history, ensuring that materials remain permanently accessible in Florida, and through exhibition, digitization, and national outreach programs of the Smathers Libraries. Linda Hope donated this collection with the purpose of sharing and preserving the Bob Hope legacy and to introduce this accomplished performer and humanitarian to future generations in an academic setting.

Processing Information

The processing of the Bob Hope Collection was a four-year project from donation and delivery in 2020 to the creation of an online finding guide in 2023. The collection is now available to University of Florida students, faculty and the general public for research purposes. The collection will support teaching and research pertaining to Bob Hope’s many contributions to American culture and history, ensuring that materials remain permanently accessible in Florida, and through exhibition, digitization, and national outreach programs of the Smathers Libraries.

A selection of Bob Hope autobiographies and biographies, from the Jim Liversidge Collection/Popular Culture Collections, were referenced in the creation of the finding aid including:

Bolton, Martha & Linda Hope, DEAR BOB: BOB HOPE’S WARTIME CORRESPONDENCE WITH THE G.I.’S OF WORLD WAR II, University Press of Mississippi, 2021 Hope, Bob as told to Dwayne Netland, CONFESSIONS OF A HOOKER: MY LIFELONG LOVE AFFAIR WITH GOLF, Doubleday and Company, Inc., 1985

Hope, Bob, DON’T SHOOT IT’S ONLY ME, G.P.Putnam’s Sons, 1993

Marx, Arthur, THE SECRET LIFE OF BOB HOPE, Barricade, 1993

Pitts, Jr., Leonard, BOB HOPE, Sharon Publishing, 1984

Quirk, Lawrence J., BOB HOPE: THE ROAD WELL-TRAVELLED, Applause, 2000

Zoglin, Richard, HOPE: ENTERTAINER OF THE CENTURY, Simon & Schuster, 2014

A Guide to the Bob Hope Papers
Finding aid created by Jim Liversidge
August 2023
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared Using Dacs
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida Repository

George A. Smathers Libraries
PO Box 117005
Gainesville Florida 32611-7005 United States of America