- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 20, 2011

LOS ANGELES (AP) — 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, has died at age 102.

Hope family spokesman Harlan Boll said Mrs. Hope died Monday 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,” Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez said. “The death of Dolores Hope leaves a huge void in Southern California.”

Mr. Hope died at age 100 on July 27, 2003.

At her 100th birthday party, Mrs.Hope 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.

Mrs. Hope mused, “I thought it was going to be just another birthday.”

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, a dark beauty whose singing of “It’s Only a Paper Moon” entranced the young comedian.

“I’ll never forget what a wonderful singer she was,” comedian and actor Rip Taylor said. “In fact, that’s how Bob and Dolores met. It seems to me that they were always laughing.”

Mr. Hope returned every night, and soon he was escorting her to her hotel after her shows. They married on 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, Mrs. Hope stayed home and devoted her time to raising the four children the Hopes adopted: Linda, Anthony, Kelly and Nora.

“I had such a huge admiration for both of them,” actress-dancer Julie Newmar said. “The quality it takes to get just one year older says a lot about that fact that she lived to 102.”

She continued singing at parties, and in the 1940s she began accompanying her husband on his Christmas trips to entertain U.S. troops. In 1966 she sang “Silent Night” to hushed thousands of GIs who then rose and gave her a thunderous ovation, many with tears in their eyes.

Dolores was a good friend and a good person,” former first lady Nancy Reagan said. “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.”

In 1990, Mrs. Hope accompanied her husband on his last Christmas visit to American forces, visiting troops who were in Saudi Arabia for Operation Desert Storm. Marie Osmond, Ann Jillian and the Pointer Sisters did not perform, to avoid offending Saudi sensibilities about female entertainers. But Mrs. Hope was approved and sang “White Christmas” to a rapt audience.

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