Long Lines, One-Liners at Bob Hope Event


More than 1,000 Bob Hope fans, ranging from World War II veterans to children born around the time of Operation Desert Storm, lined up at South Coast Plaza on Saturday to meet one of America’s most well-known entertainers.

Hope and his wife, Dolores, dropped by Bullock’s as part of a national tour to promote their new Christmas album, “Hopes for the Holidays,” and their upcoming NBC special.

Upon hearing that some fans had waited in line for four hours, Hope quipped: “I guess they found out Dolores is coming.”


When asked his opinion about Orange County’s financial woes, the 91-year-old entertainer feigned surprise: “My God, I should have brought money.”

Among the crowd waiting to meet the couple was World War II veteran Thomas Rice of Garden Grove.

“I have been a fan for 50 some years,” said Rice, who recalled seeing the entertainer “from a long distance away” when he visited a Navy hospital in Norfolk, Va., during the early 1940s.

“I enjoy his shows,” Rice said. “Anything was good for morale at the time.”

Jean Chudomelka of Mission Viejo was in line wearing a golf cap bearing Hope’s autograph.

“I had three brothers in World War II, and one is buried in the national cemetery in Hawaii,” Chudomelka said. “I just feel very indebted to this wonderful gentleman who has dedicated his life to making people happy.”

Hope has been in show business for seven decades and has spent five of them entertaining troops at military bases, hospitals and combat zones. His last goodwill tour was four years ago during the Persian Gulf War, when he spent Christmas with U.S. forces in Saudi Arabia.

He has received more than 2,000 awards and citations for his professional and humanitarian efforts, including 54 honorary doctorate degrees.


Hope said Saturday he missed not being with the troops this year.

“I did it for so long, you know,” he said. “It’s a good feeling because you’re doing something for people who mean a lot--that’s how I feel about them.”