Thursday, August 28, 2003
Los Angeles Bob Hope was eulogized Wednesday as one of the legendary figures of the past century during a memorial Mass that drew Hollywood stars, politicians and generals.
"He knew how to use laughter to bring us joy," Roman Catholic Cardinal Roger Mahony told mourners including Hope's widow, Dolores, at St. Charles Borromeo Church in North Hollywood.
The 900 guests included former President Gerald Ford and his wife, Betty, former first lady Nancy Reagan, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Hope, who entertained Americans through vaudeville, radio, movies and television, and boosted the morale of U.S. soldiers for more than 50 years of wars, died July 27 at age 100 and was entombed at San Fernando Mission Cemetery on July 30.
Mahony said Hope was often at St. Charles to help raise money for a school and other facilities, and the cardinal said he urged the comedian, who was raised Episcopalian, to become a Catholic. He said Hope replied: "I don't need to be a Catholic -- Dolores (a Catholic) does enough praying for both of us."
The service began with an honor guard bearing the flags of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard, representing the men and women Hope entertained during his many USO tours.
A portrait of Hope in his later years, a sly half-smile on his lips, stood near the altar.
"He was one of the truly legendary figures of the 20th century," Feinstein said in her eulogy.
She reminded the audience of a telegram from Hope which Harry Truman kept under the glass of his Oval Office desk after his surprise victory over Thomas Dewey in the 1948 presidential race. The telegram contained one word: "Unpack."
The service ended with a Marine bugler playing "Taps" and a choir softly humming "Thanks for the Memory," Hope's theme song.
Other guests included Mickey Rooney, Raquel Welch, Julie Newmar and Tom Selleck.