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Comedian Bob Hope Celebrates 99th Birthday - 2002-05-30


Comedian Bob Hope turned 99 Wednesday and birthday wishes poured in from around the United States. The U.S. Congress has also honored the entertainer for his work with U.S. forces.

For generations of soldiers and sailors, Bob Hope was a welcome face in faraway places. He toured war zones and overseas bases in an annual Christmas show spanning decades from World War II to the Persian Gulf conflict.

On his 99th birthday, Congress has honored the entertainer by naming a veterans' chapel after him in the Los Angeles National Cemetery.

Bob Hope was born in England in 1903 as Leslie Townes Hope. His family immigrated to the United States when he was four and they settled in Cleveland.

He began his career as a singer, dancer and comic on the vaudeville stage. In the 1930s, he became a star on radio. He became a movie star in a series of comedies called the "road" films, playing opposite Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour. The first was Road to Singapore in 1940.

With the advent of television, the comedian found a new audience.

Ladies and Gentlemen, this is Bob "first-commercial-television-broadcast" Hope. All you gals who have tuned in, and I want to make this emphatic, if my face isn't handsome and debonair, please blame it on the static.

A spokesman said Bob Hope is frail these days, but his wife, Dolores, attended the dedication of the new Bob Hope chapel on his behalf. The spokesman says 99 is a milestone, but the comedian's family is already preparing for his 100th birthday.

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