Dolores Hope, Widow of Bob Hope, Dies at 102

The wife of the legendary comedian lived in Toluca Lake for more than 70 years.

Dolores Hope, widow of legendary actor/comedian Bob Hope, died Monday of natural causes at age 102 in her home, according to family spokesman Harlan Boll.

She had , and continued to live there after her husband's death in 2003 at the age of 100. At 4 p.m. Monday, about four hours after her death, .

Born Dolores DeFina in New York City, she began singing professionally in the 1930s, and met her future husband after appearing at a Manhattan nightclub. The couple were married Feb. 19, 1934, and they stayed together for 69 years, until Bob Hope's death.

Her husband was an avid golfer and they were known to frequent the nearby in Toluca Lake, the drive-through window at and . Along with their , the Hopes and Crosys made the little village of Toluca Lake a household word around the country.

After they were married, Dolores Hope joined her husband's vaudeville act, but she later left performing to focus on the couple's four adopted children—Eleanora, Linda, Kelly and Anthony.

About a decade later, however, she began performing again alongside her husband during his many overseas trips to entertain U.S. troops. Hope was a frequent USO performer and is the only person to ever be named an . In 1990, she accompanied her husband to entertain troops in Operation Desert Storm, and she was the only female entertainer permitted to perform in Saudi Arabia.

Despite her long singing career, it wasn't until she was 83 years old that she released her first album, "Dolores Hope: Now and Then."

Dolores Hope was well known for her charity work, receiving a host of humanitarian awards from a variety of institutions, including Our Lady of Mercy Medical Center and the Metropolitan Golf Writers Association. She also received a Patronal Medal from the Catholic University of America.

She and her husband received the Knight and Dame of St. Gregory the Great with Star papal honors, presented on behalf of Pope John Paul II by Cardinal Roger Mahony of the Los Angeles Catholic Archdiocese and making Dolores one of only four women to receive the Dame of St. Gregory with Star honor.

Archbishop Jose Gomez, who now heads the Los Angeles archdiocese, noted that the Hopes were early supporters of the construction of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in downtown Los Angeles.

"Dolores Hope was a Catholic of deep and abiding faith, and her own spiritual journey was her highest priority," Gomez said. "She not only practiced her faith regularly, she even transformed the Hope home in Toluca Lake into a special sacred space. She had a beautiful and peaceful chapel in their home, and frequently asked friends to gather for retreat days and days of recollection at the home. She was close friends to many priests and sisters over the years, as well as various cardinals, archbishops and bishops."

Dolores and Bob Hope donated the original 80 acres of land in Rancho Mirage that house the Eisenhower Medical Center, and she served on the hospital's board.

A street is named after her in her hometown of the Bronx, N.Y., and a portion of the New York Botanical Garden also bears her name.

Boll said funeral services would be for family and friends only, and she would be buried next to her husband at Bob Hope Memorial Garden at the San Fernando Mission.

"She did tell me once she credited their longevity to laughter," Boll said. "Between her and Bob they certainly had a lot of it in their lifetime."


City News Service contributed to this report.

Andy September 27, 2011 at 05:55 PM
Additionally, it was believed that Bob was married to his former partner just prior to marrying Delores. It was later stated a licence was taken out, but not used. Then, later, there was some doubt as to whether Bob and Delores did, in fact, obtain a marriage licence. The article said it was never discussed. Gossip, rumour? It doesn't matter, but all those going on about what a saint Bob was are minimizing the life out of him. He was who he was and lived life to the fullest with a wife who stood by him.Those were the times, that was the life, and it wasn't likely a joyful marriage all the time, but during certain years she had four children, her faith, and charities, golf and more. We should all be so lucky. Perhaps fewer should divorce when unfaithfulness unfortunately occurs as it often does. At the end of the day, would it have been worth it? Not to her.
Beege Marshall September 27, 2011 at 06:17 PM
Andy, I didn't know about Bob's apparently very public disrespect of Delores. Yes, it was a different time, so I have no right to judge her. Divorce was rare by comparison to today and women suffered entrapment in very unhappy, sometimes miserable situations. Religion was "used" as a reason to stay in a miserable match. And material considerations can never compensate for daily eroding of one's self-respect. Learning this blatent, public humiliation of Delores by Bob has lowered my opinion of him as a man volumes.
minn September 27, 2011 at 08:16 PM
As do many rich men they tend to find other women to hang on their shirt tails....but what I understand from another men I knew and I was friend with: who knew of Bob Hope, told me that Bob was selfish with his money.. and never paid for his girl friends........." not nothen 'ever' will' maybe he paid for dinner! and he was platonic with his women friends and he really did love his wife...
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