The All-American Wisecracker

Leading with his chin, Hope celebrates his 80th birthday

In its sheer vastness and excess, Bob Hope's three-year-old, 25,000-sq.-ft. home in Palm Springs, Calif., is not the gesture of an old man content to dwell quietly among yesterday's memories. Climbing the cascade of black marble stairs under the house's wide-vaulting arch, a visitor might be on some gigantic Academy Awards set, a gleaming desert mirage. Actually, the place is a kind of hotel. Even when the owner is on the road, friends check in for a few days. On this afternoon, however, the sound...

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