Wife of late comedian resumed singing in her 80s
Dolores DeFina Hope, wife of the late comedian Bob Hope for nearly 70 years as well as a singer and philanthropist, died Monday of natural causes in Toluca Lake, Calif. She was 102.
Dolores Reade (her professional name) was introduced to rising Broadway star Bob Hope while she was singing at the Vogue Club in Manhattan in 1933; they were married the next year. In the late 1930s the Hopes relocated to California so Bob could pursue film and radio work.
Dolores largely put her singing career on hold to support Bob’s career and raise their children — “Bob was the hot thing in New York back then,” she told the AP in 1997. “I thought I’d better stay at home and take care of Bob.” She did, however, accompany him on many of his USO trips to entertain the troops over a period of more than 50 years and usually closed the show with a rendition of “Silent Night.”
At age 83 she returned to the role of professional singer, recording the album “Dolores Hope: Now and Then.” She subsequently recorded three more solo efforts plus a Christmas album with Bob, “Hopes for the Holidays”; at 88 she performed with Rosemary Clooney at New York’s Rainbow and Stars for several weeks.
Dolores made her last USO trip during Operation Desert Storm, performing “White Christmas” from the back of a truck in the middle of the Saudi desert when she was 84.
Dolores had her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, next to Bob’s.
The couple adopted four children, and Dolores became an advocate for adoption, serving on the board of Holy Family Adoption Services in Los Angeles. Dolores was also devoted to Catholic causes benefiting the poor.
Dolores was founding president of the Eisenhower Medical Center in Palm Desert. She served as president of its board from 1968-76, as chair beginning in 1977 and as chairman emeritus beginning in the 1990s.
Dolores was named honorary mayor of Palm Springs five times and named woman of the year by the Los Angeles Times. She was honored with six honorary degrees and many awards for her humanitarian efforts.
Dolores DeFina was born in Harlem to an Italian and Irish family and grew up in the Bronx.
Bob Hope died in 2003 a few months after his 100th birthday. Dolores was featured on the “Today” show on the occasion of her own 100th birthday in 2009. The Hopes’ son Anthony died in 2004.
Dolores is survived by her daughter Linda Hope; son William Kelly Hope; three grandchildren; and a great-grandson.