Bob Hope's widow may well have been thinking "thanks for the memory's nudge" Wednesday as she celebrated her birthday with friends in Toluca Lake.
Dolores Hope was turning 100, after all. And people she first met seven decades ago were mingling around 10 large picture kiosks set up in her backyard.
The 10-foot-tall displays reflected "the decades of Dolores," as her friends put it. They were a fitting party theme for the woman who was married 69 years to the actor-comedian whose signature theme song was "Thanks for the Memories."
Bob Hope died in 2003 at age 100.
The 1970s kiosk showed photos of President Nixon and other world leaders, performers such as Bruce Springsteen and Elvis Presley and other images of that decade. A video showed scenes of Bob and Dolores Hope entertaining U.S. troops in Vietnam.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday, June 04, 2009 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 National Desk 1 inches; 35 words Type of Material: Correction
Bob Hope theme: An article in the May 28 Section A about Dolores Hope's 100th birthday referred to Bob Hope's theme song as "Thanks for the Memories." The correct title is "Thanks for the Memory."
In one scene, Dolores sings a song. Her husband then announces to the GIs: "I want to teIl you, today's her birthday . . . and doesn't she look beautiful!"
At the party, Hope sat beneath the 1900 kiosk (showing corset ads, her old baby pictures and a blow-up of her birth certificate) and chatted with old friend Gloria Stuart.
"We always had similar interests," said Stuart, who added that she did radio shows with Bob Hope and was once married to one of his writers. She will celebrate her 99th birthday on the Fourth of July, she said.
Friends such as Mary Crosby, daughter of Bing Crosby, recalled Hope's close relationship with St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in North Hollywood. There, she donated time and money for such causes as the Lady of Hope Chapel and a family social service center.
Former USO dancer Patty Thomas performed with Bob Hope in the South Pacific in the waning days of World War II and later in Vietnam. Along the way, she became friends with his wife. She recalled the Hopes' dedication to servicemen.
Some in the crowd talked of how Hope abandoned her own New York singing career to move to Hollywood in the '30s with her husband. One of her own traditions was singing "Silent Night" to troops to close out her husband's USO shows.
Daughter Linda Hope, who with her brother Kelly planned the party, said laughter in the Toluca Lake home may have contributed to both parents' long lives.
Grandson Zack Hope of New York suggested that dry martinis might have helped. Several guests joked about the "Mass and martinis" ritual observed by Dolores Hope on Sundays.
Along with her church work, Hope hosted charitable events at the couple's home in the Palm Springs area, including the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic golf tournament. She was founding president of the Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage.
She had a brief revival of her singing career at age 83 when she recorded several albums and performed with Rosemary Clooney in New York.