Thursday, May 31, 2001
Los Angeles Bob Hope once joked, "You know you're getting old when the candles cost more than the cake." But even the high cost of illumination didn't stop him from celebrating his 98th birthday Tuesday.
Age has slowed the master of the one-liner but it hasn't dulled his wit.
His daughter, Linda Hope, informed him that the Los Angeles County supervisors had officially declared Tuesday "Bob Hope Day" to honor his birth.
"When you get over 95, every day is your day," he was said to have quipped.
The family held a small, private gathering at their Los Angeles home for the comedian whose eight-decade career ranged from vaudeville to television, movies and scores of trips to entertain U.S. troops abroad.
Yes, there was cake at the gathering, but no word on whether it was cheaper than the candles.
"There are so many, we always laugh that you better keep the fire extinguisher standing by when you light them," said Ward Grant, Hope's publicist.
After the party, Hope planned to watch some of his old movies with wife, Dolores Hope, Grant said.
Born Leslie Townes Hope on May 29, 1903, in Eltham, England, his family immigrated to the United States in 1907 and settled in Cleveland.
He began a career in vaudeville, playing "third billing to Siamese twins and trained seals," but soared to international fame with his tours to entertain U.S. troops, dozens of TV specials and films, most notably his "road movies" with Bing Crosby.
The comic made his last overseas visit to entertain U.S. troops at age 87, stopping in Saudi Arabia in 1990 during Operation Desert Storm.
Hope was hospitalized last summer with a bout of gastrointestinal bleeding but has since recovered and, although frail from age, remains in good spirits, Grant said.