Legendary entertainer Bob Hope has died at the age of 100. Hope's longtime publicist confirms that the comedian passed away at his home in Toluca Lake, California, last night. He was surrounded by family members at his bedside. The publicist says the cause of death was pneumonia.
Hope started playing to the troops well before the United States entered World War II, and he continued to do so through the first Persian Gulf war. He actually tried to enlist, but was told he could be of more use as an entertainer. WTOC spoke with a few United Services Organization officials today about Bob Hope's legendary performances. They are mourning the loss, but they say his legacy and the USO go hand in hand and will last forever. He held the record for being the most honored entertainer, but it was his Christmas shows with the USO that he will be most remembered for.
"He was the USO," said Savannah chapter president Mitchell Bush. "He embodied what we believed in. He started the legacy that will continue forever."
"You could just see the laughter and joy when you watch the old clips, you can just see it on the soldiers' faces," added Mary Louastin, president of the Georgia USO. Louastin has been with the USO for more than 30 years and worked with Hope many times. She says, for the troops, Bob Hope was part of the family.
"I think it was comforting for the soldiers," she told us. "Even for the families back home. He was taking hometown America through the USO to soldiers serving away from home."
"He was a big famous movie star spending time away from his world to come to theirs and provide support," noted Bush.
Whether it was support, laughter, or reminding the troops they haven't been forgotten, Bob Hope's legacy will always be remembered. As Bush put it, "Who wouldn't want to be Bob Hope? He was the greatest."
In recent years, big stars like Jay Leno, Jennifer Lopez and Arnold Schwarzenegger have toured with the USO, and they say although there will never be another Bob Hope, hopefully his legacy will live on through the new list of entertainers.