Life without Bob Hope? Following his death on Sunday, the country is paying tribute to the 100-year-old legend in all manners — from fans placing floral wreaths on his Hollywood Boulevard star to words of mourning from government leaders.
President Bush has ordered the nation’s flags to be lowered to half-staff Wednesday, the day of Hope’s funeral and burial, which will be for immediate family only. His wife of 69 years, Dolores, four adopted children and four grandchildren survive the entertainer.
Hope’s family was at his side when Hope died of pneumonia Sunday, and his daughter Linda, 64, said at a press conference Monday that he kissed each of them goodbye.
“I can’t tell you how beautiful and serene and peaceful it was,” she said. “The fact that there was a little audience gathered around, even though it was family, I think warmed dad’s heart. … “He really left us with a smile on his face and no last words.”
An invitation-only memorial service, to include a High Mass at St. Charles Church in North Hollywood, has been planned for Aug. 27 for family, friends and professional associates of Hope. (Dolores Hope is a devout Catholic. Bob, who was born in England, was always said to be Anglican, although last May, when her father turned 100, Linda Hope was asked what her father’s religion was. She replied: “Comedy.”)
The day of the church service, the Television Academy of Arts and Sciences will hold its tribute for the entertainment community, according to a Hope family spokesman. Other memorial tributes are being planned for Washington, D.C., Palm Springs, Calif. (where the Hopes have a second home and frequently entertained Presidents and soldiers returning home), and Bob’s hometown of Cleveland, where he moved when he was 3.
Hope was “the best loved, most admired and most successful entertainer in all of history. He is quite simply, irreplaceable,” longtime “Tonight Show” host Johnny Carson, 76, said in a statement Monday. (Hope had a standing invitation to walk on to the program while Carson was at the desk, and Dolores Hope still refers to Carson as “my darling Johnny.”)
Woody Allen, who cited Hope’s 1942 film “Road to Morocco” for pointing him on the road to comedy, had something to say, too: “It’s hard for me to imagine a world without Bob Hope in it.”