LOS ANGELES — Dolores Hope, the sultry-voiced songstress who was married to Bob Hope for 69 years and sometimes sang on his shows for U.S. troops and on his television specials, died Monday. She was 102.
Hope family spokesman Harlan Boll said Mrs. Hope died of natural causes at home in Los Angeles. He did not elaborate.
“Both the entertainment world and the church have lost a woman of profound faith, gifted musical talent and dedication,” said Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez. “The death of Dolores Hope leaves a huge void in Southern California.”
Bob Hope died at age 100 on July 27, 2003.
Dolores had ties to northwest Ohio as her son Anthony was married in St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Defiance, on Dec. 2, 1967.
A lavish reception followed in the Crystal Room of the Commodore Perry hotel in downtown Toledo, during which Mr. and Mrs. Hope performed for the guests.
At her 100th birthday party, Dolores appeared little changed: Her white hair was richly coiffed, her skin smooth and her voice deep and warm. She was brought to the party in a wheelchair but was alert and happy as she greeted old friends and posed for photographs.
In 1933, when Mr. Hope was appearing in his first Broadway show, Roberta, his friend and fellow cast member George Murphy persuaded him to visit the Vogue Club to “hear a pretty girl sing.” She was Dolores Reade, whose singing of “It’s Only a Paper Moon” entranced the young comedian.
Mr. Hope returned every night and soon he was escorting her to her hotel after her shows. They married Feb. 19, 1934, and she quit nightclubs to join his vaudeville act. Then she retired.
“Bob was the hot thing in New York then,” she recalled in 1997. “I thought I’d better stay home and take care of Bob.”
When they moved to Hollywood in 1938 for the beginning of his film career, Dolores stayed home and devoted her time to raising the four children the Hopes adopted: Linda, Anthony, Kelly, and Nora.
“Dolores was a good friend and a good person,” said Nancy Reagan, the widow of former President — and actor — Ronald Reagan. “She was an extraordinary partner to Bob throughout his entire life, supporting both their family at home and Bob’s selfless cause to entertain U.S. troops abroad. Together, they brought countless hours of laughter and cheer to Americans everywhere.”
She was born Dolores DeFina in 1909 in New York’s Harlem to an Italian father and Irish mother, and grew up in the Bronx.
She began singing early, worked as a model and a Ziegfeld showgirl, and at 20 sang with George Olson’s band.