WASHINGTON — Bob Hope had breakfast and shaved Friday morning after he heard the distressing news from Washington that he had died.
Based on an erroneous Associated Press report, Rep. Bob Stump (R-Ariz.) walked on to the House floor Friday and announced that the 95-year-old entertainer was dead. C-SPAN broadcast the announcement nationally.
Hope’s assistant quickly put the story to rest in a call to Daily Variety’s Army Archerd. The assistant told Archerd that Hope was very much alive and planned to hit the golf course at the Lakeside Country Club on Saturday before attending a friend’s birthday party Saturday night.
Also based on the Associated Press, ABC radio reported that Hope had died but caught the mistake as it was making the report. News of Hope’s premature demise got rolling Friday when the Associated Press moved a story on its website, apparently by accident, that had been written in preparation for Hope’s death. It was based on that story that Stump made his statement, said House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas).
Armey asked Stump, who heads the House Veteran Affairs Committee, to make the announcement. Stump was tapped because of Hope’s history of entertaining U.S. military personnel. In October, Stump spearheaded a move in Congress that made Hope an honorary veteran of the U.S. military.
Armey later issued an apology from the floor. “I apologize to Bob Hope, his family and the entire nation for the erroneous announcement made on the House floor today,” Armey said. His office later faxed reporters the AP story with a headline “Bob Hope, Tireless Master of the One-liner, Dead at XX.”