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Opinion

Thanks for the memories, Mr. Hope

| Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2003

He took us on the Road to Rio. To Morocco. To Utopia. To Singapore. To Zanzibar. Bob Hope's popular road pictures with Bing Crosby were among the many highlights of a remarkable life that ended at age 100 on July 27.

Along the way he became one of America's most popular and beloved entertainers. Always topical but never outrageous, Hope started out as a vaudeville entertainer before changing with the times and conquering radio, the movies and finally television.

But Hope was much more than just a conventional comedian. He carved out a niche as the premier entertainer of U.S. troops stationed overseas.

He became more revered among American servicemen than any president, general or field commander, headlining USO shows from World War II up through the first Gulf War. He provided an incalculable rise in morale, bringing soldiers a break from their routine and a reminder of life back home.

His overseas Christmas tours became legendary, and his 1966 holiday show from Vietnam drew a television audience of 65 million people, an incredible number for the time and the largest audience of his career.

Although he is gone, Hope's legacy will live on for years. The intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street has been renamed Bob Hope Square, and President Bush recently established the Bob Hope American Patriot Award.

Even though he was born in England, Hope became an American success story, delighting audiences for 60 years and amassing a significant fortune in the process. He dedicated his life to entertaining others and brought laughter to places where it was badly needed.

Hope is on a different road now, and we hope it is one that leads to a richly deserved eternal reward. Thanks for a life well lived. Thanks for a legacy of laughter. And most of all, thanks for the memories.

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