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Saturday, June 6, 1998 Published at 16:30 GMT 17:30 UK

World: Americas

Premature report of Bob Hope's demise

Bob Hope: No doubt he will find a cutting one-liner for the confusion

Taking his cue from Mark Twain, Bob Hope may be chortling to himself that reports of his death were greatly exaggerated.

Linda Hope: "He's getting ready to hit some golf balls"
The world's media was thrown into confusion on Friday after a US website reported, wrongly, that the legendary British born entertainer had died at the age of 95.

Arizona Republican congressman Bob Stump stunned the House of Representatives in Washington when he told colleagues: "It is with great sadness I announce that Bob Hope has died." He had picked up the news from the Associated Press website.

Within seconds of hearing Mr Stump's speech broadcast across the US, some of the world's media operations were cranking into operation to pay tribute to the man loved by millions.

But Bob Hope's daughter Linda, immediately contacted news agencies to deny the report, saying her father was sitting happily at home in Pasadena, California.

She said: "It's not true, he's happily having his breakfast. I don't know where this story has come from.

"I couldn't even begin to estimate how many calls we had. We have nine lines and they have not stopped ringing.

"Unfortunately this is not the first time this has happened, but when you live to 95 I guess these things can happen."

Stump blames agency

[ image: Did you hear the one about the congressman...]
Did you hear the one about the congressman...
Congressman Stump said he had picked up the story from the AP website and had been asked by colleagues to relay news to the world.

He has since spoken to Bob Hope's family to apologise.

In a statement, AP said the obituary had been published because of a technical problem and the cause was being investigated.

It added that the news agency removed the article from its website after a member of staff noticed it. Stump had already made his announcement.

Fears for health

There have been fears for the entertainer's health for some time but he has continued to make public appearances.

In May he attended the British embassy in Washington to be awarded an honorary knighthood.

He did however miss a birthday celebration in the capital after being reported too ill to attend.

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