The widow of entertainer Bob Hope has died, at the amazing age of 102.
Her obituary notes her Catholic roots:
Dolores DeFina was born on May 27, 1909, in Harlem, the daughter of John Thomas DeFina and the former Theresa Kelly. She grew up in the Bronx and changed her last name to Reade when she began a career as a nightclub singer.
She was appearing at the Vogue Club in Manhattan under that name in 1933 when the actor George Murphy took Bob Hope to see her. At the time, Murphy and Hope were starring in the Jerome Kern-Otto Harbach musical comedy “Roberta” at the New Amsterdam Theater. She and Mr. Hope were married the following year.
She continued her singing career during the early years of their marriage, often appearing in Hope’s vaudeville shows, but she largely retired to bring up their four adopted children. Her husband sometimes mentioned her in his monologues, and besides turning up for many of his television specials, Mrs. Hope occasionally appeared as herself in series, including “The Jack Benny Program” in 1958 and the public affairs program “The Christophers,” also in the 1950s.
She sometimes accompanied her husband on his tours entertaining American armed forces overseas. On a Christmas tour during the Vietnam War, she sang “Silent Night” to the troops, bringing many to tears. Hope promptly sent his wife back to the United States.
“The last thing those guys needed was sentiment,” he was quoted as saying in an article in the Toronto Globe and Mail that appeared shortly after his death. “Dolores became their mother. What they needed was Raquel Welch.”
Years later, when it was suggested that Hope might have felt some professional jealousy of his wife’s talents on that occasion, he replied in character, telling The San Diego Union-Tribune, “After that, she had the nerve to sit in my spotlight at the breakfast table when we got home.”
Mrs. Hope, a Roman Catholic, received many humanitarian awards for her charitable work, much of it on behalf of Catholic charities benefitting the poor. She was also the founding president of the Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, Calif. In 2008, the Ladies Professional Golf Association honored her, an avid golfer, for contributions to women’s golf.
Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon her…