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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 July, 2003, 08:49 GMT 09:49 UK
Private burial for Bob Hope
Bob and Dolores Hope in 1998
Only close family and friends were at the funeral
Comedian Bob Hope has been buried by family members in a private dawn ceremony.

Hope's body was taken to San Fernando Mission cemetery in suburban Los Angeles on Wednesday after a Mass in the chapel of St Charles Borromeo church.

Hope, one of the greatest entertainers of the 20th Century, died of pneumonia on Sunday aged 100.

"At the conclusion of the ceremony, there was a standing ovation and applause filled the cemetery grounds," his friend and publicist Ward Grant said.

"Bob Hope had taken his final bow and left the stage. He [is] taking a new road but his presence remains," he said.

Flags at the White House and US government and military buildings were flown at half mast on Wednesday.

Mausoleum where Bob Hope was placed on Wednesday
Hope's body was taken to a mausoleum at the cemetery
A family report on Hope's website gave details of the morning's events.

"Bob Hope's immediate family... some close friends, staff, doctors and recent caregivers, entered the pews to pay their last respects," it said.

"Tony Hope presented a loving tribute to his dad and expressed warm appreciation from the family to those in attendance.

"In moments of silence, in the church and on the way to the cemetery, each individual gave their private eulogy for a remarkable man who led an extraordinary life. A man they admired and loved."

The coffin was draped with the United States flag for the 30-minute service, which was conducted by three parish priests.

But it was an intimate affair compared with send-offs for other Hollywood stars.

A larger public memorial will take place on 27 August.

Bob Hope's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
Fans have been leaving tributes on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
Hope's body will be moved to a permanent tomb, which is currently being built.

The British-born comedian was one of America's most beloved entertainers for more than seven decades, starring in vaudeville, movies, radio, television and film.

After his death, President George Bush said: "He served our nation when he went to battlefields and entertained thousands of troops from different generations."

On Monday, daughter Linda said her father's death came peacefully and that Mr Hope's family was at his bedside when he passed away.

Her father had an "amazing life", she said.

"I'm sure that he always wished that he had another 100 years, but I think he was very happy with his life," she said.

Her father's sense of humour reportedly stayed with him until the end. When his wife of 69 years, Dolores, asked where he wanted to be buried, he quipped: "Surprise me!"

'Uniquely American'

The Queen sent a private message to his widow Dolores while veteran comedian Jackie Mason described him as "by far the most brilliant comedian that ever lived".

Film-maker Woody Allen added: "It's hard for me to imagine a world without Bob Hope in it."

Former first lady Nancy Reagan said Bob Hope had been one of the US's greatest goodwill ambassadors.

Actor Dick Van Dyke said Hope was "uniquely American" while Frasier star Kelsey Grammer said: "He gave us 100 years, and still left us wanting more."

The BBC's Nick Higham
"He became a symbol of American comedy"

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