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2003: Comic legend Bob Hope dies
American icon and legendary comedian Bob Hope has died, just two months after celebrating his 100th birthday.

He had been ill with pneumonia, and died in his sleep at home in Toluca Lake, California, with his family at his bedside.

US President George Bush led the tributes which poured in from around the world.

"Today America lost a great citizen," he said.

"Bob Hope made us laugh. He lifted our spirits. Bob Hope served our nation. We will mourn the loss of a good man."

It's hard for me to imagine a world without Bob Hope in it.
Woody Allen, film-maker
A spokeswoman for Buckingham Palace said the Queen, who met British-born Hope many times, was "very sad" to hear the news and would be sending a private message to his widow, Dolores, who was married to Hope for 69 years. The couple had four children.

Film-maker Woody Allen also joined the tributes, saying, "It's hard for me to imagine a world without Bob Hope in it."

Film critic Derek Malcolm said he was a talented comic actor.

"Many comics are depressed in real life, but he wasn't - unless he'd had a bad round of golf," he said.

Birthday celebrations were held in May to mark Bob Hope's centenary, but with failing eyesight and hearing, the comedian was not well enough to attend.

He was born Leslie Townes Hope in south-east London in 1903, the son of a stonemason and a Welsh concert singer.

He lived in Britain until he was four, when his family emigrated to Ohio, in the United States.

He trained in vaudeville, the American form of music hall entertainment, and became increasingly well-known through his film, television and radio work.

With Bing Crosby, he created one of the big screen's most memorable partnerships, with such classic comedies as "Road to Singapore".

He was a close friend of many US presidents, including Kennedy, Nixon, Ford and Reagan, and was especially known for his tireless work entertaining American troops wherever they were stationed around the world.

He was awarded a Congressional Medal of Honour in 1962 and received an honorary knighthood from the Queen in 1998.

But he never won the prize he most wanted - the Oscar.

Introducing the Oscars ceremony in 1968, he joked: "Welcome to the Academy Awards. Or as it's known in my house - Passover."

He was, however, given four honorary Oscars for his contribution to showbusiness.

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Bob Hope
Bob Hope worked tirelessly to entertain American troops

In Context
Bob Hope was buried on 31 July in a private ceremony in suburban Los Angeles. His coffin was draped with the United States flag for the 30-minute service.

Mourners gave a spontaneous standing ovation at the conclusion of the ceremony.

President Bush ordered flags to be flown at half-mast on the White House, all US government and military buildings, naval vessels and US posts around the world for the day of the funeral.

A larger memorial service took place on 27 August, attended by Hollywood stars and prominent political figures including former US President Gerald Ford.

A Los Angeles airport has since been renamed Bob Hope Airport in his memory.

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