People: The road to Bob Hope's secret life

AN unauthorised biography of Bob Hope says the comedian traded girlfriends with Bing Crosby as part of an active extra-marital sex life. The Secret Life of Bob Hope, written by Arthur Marx, son of Groucho, also claimed Hope kept women in apartments near his California home and visited them during midnight strolls.

'It's believed that Bob Hope has made love to more beautiful women than Errol Flynn, my Uncle Chico and Bing Crosby combined,' the author said.

A spokesman for the 90-year-old entertainer said: 'We're not dignifying the book with any comment. I always deplore those who make a living off the degradation of others.'

'I think Bob has done a lot of good things in the world,' said Marx. 'I'm not throwing rocks. I'm just telling the story of his life.'

CHAIRMAN MAO - or at least a diamond-studded medallion bearing the late Great Helmsman's likeness - is lost in space. An experimental satellite carrying Mao's portrait in a field of 44 diamonds malfunctioned and did not return to Earth. The medallion would have been sold off at an international auction to coincide with the centenary of Mao's birth. The launch rocket which prevented this sale of the century was appropriately named 'Long March'.

TIME is at last catching up with Africa's most durable ruler. President Felix Houphouet-Boigny of the Ivory Coast, who has survived the ordeals of seven elections - six of them unopposed - has recently been forgoing the pleasures of absolute power. The President, who was first elected in November 1960, was last seen in his country on 14 May when he boarded a chartered Concorde and flew to Paris for a 'prostate operation'.

But he has not been forgotten by his people. When he turned 88 yesterday, the Abidjan paper Fraternite Matin produced a 12-page birthday supplement, showing concern for the leader's well-being.

To reassure his subjects, the President sent a message saying he was missing them and would be home soon. Meanwhile, birthday parties all over the Ivory Coast went ahead without the guest of honour.

(Photograph omitted)

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