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Bob Hope's 100th Birthday Celebrated in Hollywood


The legendary entertainer Bob Hope turned 100 Thursday, and friends and fans celebrated the milestone.

At the Reagan presidential library, school children wished Bob Hope a happy birthday.

Los Angeles officials have renamed the famous corner of Hollywood and Vine, now calling it Bob Hope Square. Hollywood's honorary mayor Johnny Grant came up with the idea and suggested it to the Los Angeles city council. "It was a unanimous vote, but what politician could vote against Bob Hope?"

Actor Mickey Rooney was one of the comic's many friends who attended the celebration in Hollywood. "Happy birthday, Bob, and [best wishes] to his lovely wife, Dolores," he said.

Bob Hope was too frail to attend, but his wife, Dolores, now 94, was there. So were their three children, including daughter Linda. "He's overwhelmed, as we all are by all of this because everyone from the Queen of England to GIs that saw him during the second world war. We've gotten cards and letters. It's just been extraordinary," she said.

Congratulations came from the famous, like Henry Kissinger, and from ordinary people. Some were among the thousands of former troops, once stationed far from home, who remember getting a lift from the comedian's visits.

Beginning in World World II and continuing through the Gulf war, Bob Hope entertained the troops, bringing a few laughs and a bevy of beautiful starlets.

VOA engineer Rick McCleaf was a young soldier stationed in South Korea in 1962. Getting word that Bob Hope was coming, he traveled over dusty roads for an hour to reach the show. "It was all in the dirt, but we had a good view. And his entire entourage come up on stage, with some pretty girls, and plenty of jokes and laughter," he says. "The show was great. It was a nice break from the regular activity."

For his six decades of entertaining the troops, the U.S. Congress named Bob Hope an honorary veteran in 1997. The British-born entertainer is the only person ever granted the honor.

From his start on the vaudeville stage to his famous "road" pictures with singer Bing Crosby, Bob Hope became a fixture on the Hollywood movie screen, and on radio and television, becoming a favorite with successive generations.

His longtime publicist, Ward Grant, says, for the comic and his fans, this birthday was a special celebration. "This is the celebrating of a remarkable life, a remarkable man, a remarkable career," he says. "And a man who has enjoyed every single minute of it."

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