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Feature: 100 candles for Bob Hope

By PAT NASON, UPI Hollywood Reporter   |   May 28, 2003 at 4:52 PM   |   Comments

LOS ANGELES, May 28 (UPI) -- Hollywood and the world are gearing up to celebrate legendary entertainer Bob Hope's 100th birthday on Thursday.

The star of vaudeville, Broadway, radio, TV, movies and USO shows around the world, Hope was born on May 29, 1903, in Eltham, London. His family moved to Cleveland in 1907 and he became one of America's most beloved all-around entertainers.

The 100th birthday tributes are springing up all over.

At least 35 states proclaimed Thursday "Bob Hope Day." Hope has received more than 2,000 birthday cards -- including greetings from President George W. Bush and Queen Elizabeth.

The Library of Congress held a tribute to Hope on May 22. In Palm Springs, Calif. -- one of Hope's favorite playgrounds -- "100 Days of Hope" features an exhibit from the entertainer's archives.

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors proclaimed Hope "Citizen of the Century."

The biggest celebrations will come on Thursday, highlighted by ceremonies at the historic intersection of Hollywood and Vine -- which will be renamed "Bob Hope Square."

City officials will join Hope's wife Dolores Hope and their children -- daughter Linda Hope and sons Kelly and Tony Hope -- at the dedication. The U.S. Marine Band San Diego will perform and there will be a flyover by WWII vintage aircraft.

"I hope now when people pass this intersection they will recall their favorite Bob Hope joke or story -- take a moment to laugh and help us make this the happiest corner of the world," said Hollywood's Honorary Mayor Johnny Grant -- a long-time friend of Hope.

Later Thursday, Hope's family is scheduled to appear on CNN's "Larry King Live." Also on Thursday, the British Broadcasting Corp. will air a special salute to Hope, and the Bob Hope Theatre in Eltham will hold a birthday reception and film festival.

Plans call for Hope to spend Thursday evening with his family at their home in the Toluca Lake section of Los Angeles.

"Yes, there will be birthday cake with 100 candles," said Dolores Hope, "with a fireman standing by with a fire extinguisher."

Dolores Hope, who turned 94 on Tuesday, told Hollywood columnist Army Archerd that Bob Hope's birthday dinner menu includes his favorite dishes -- roast lamb, roasted potatoes, mint jelly and lemon meringue pie.

The festivities continue on Friday in Cleveland, which will officially name a street in Hope's honor.

Other celebrations of Hope's centennial include AMC Theaters' plan to offer best wishes on their movie screens nationwide and PBS' plan to air a TV special dedicated to Hope's films.

And of course, veterans organizations are planning tributes of their own.

For all his successes as a popular entertainer, Hope may be best loved in America for his many trips overseas to entertain U.S. troops, beginning during World War II and continuing through every conflict up to the Gulf War in 1991.

When Hope turned 99 last year, he received yet another honor from the United States in recognition of his long service entertaining troops overseas, when the chapel at Los Angeles National Cemetery was dedicated as the Bob Hope Veterans Chapel. Hope was made an honorary veteran in 1997 by an act of Congress.

"I've been given many awards in my lifetime," said Hope at the time, "but to be numbered among the men and women I admire most is the greatest honor I have ever received."

Hope has not performed in several years. He has suffered from health problems in recent years, including a bout with bronchitis in 2001 that landed him in the hospital for several days.

In 1994 he traveled to Normandy to observe the 50th anniversary of D-Day. He followed that with a concert at Royal Albert Hall in London. In 1998, the British Government awarded him an honorary knighthood, and the Vatican honored him and his wife with a papal knighthood.

The 100th birthday tributes will continue beyond Thursday.

In June, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art will hold a film festival, screening 12 of Hope's movies. In July, plans call for the dedication of an expanded Bob Hope USO at Los Angeles Airport.

© 2003 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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