FILE - In this Jan. 28, 1989 file photo, actress and animal rights activist Doris Day poses for photos after receiving the Cecil B. DeMille Award she was presented with at the annual Golden Globe Awards ceremony in Los Angeles. Day, whose wholesome screen presence stood for a time of innocence in ’60s films, has died, her foundation says. She was 97. The Doris Day Animal Foundation confirmed Day died early Monday, May 13, 2019, at her Carmel Valley, California, home. (AP Photo, File)

FILE - In this Jan. 28, 1989 file photo, actress and animal rights activist Doris Day poses for photos after receiving the Cecil B. DeMille Award she was presented with at the annual Golden Globe Awards ceremony in Los Angeles. Day, whose wholesome screen presence stood for a time of innocence in ’60s films, has died, her foundation says. She was 97. The Doris Day Animal Foundation confirmed Day died early Monday, May 13, 2019, at her Carmel Valley, California, home. (AP Photo, File)

Legendary actress and singer Doris Day dead at 97

In recent years, Day had been an animal rights advocate

Doris Day, the sunny blond actress and singer whose frothy roles in comedies and musicals made her one of Hollywood’s biggest stars in the 1950s and ’60s and a symbol of wholesome American womanhood, has died. She was 97.

In recent years, Day had been an animal rights advocate and her Doris Day Animal Foundation confirmed her death early Monday at her Carmel Valley, California, home. The foundation said she was surrounded by close friends.

“Day had been in excellent physical health for her age, until recently contracting a serious case of pneumonia, resulting in her death,” the foundation said in an emailed statement.

The foundation also said she requested “no funeral or memorial service and no grave marker.”

With her lilting contralto, wholesome blonde beauty and glowing smile, Day was a top box office draw and recording artist known for such films as “Pillow Talk” and “That Touch of Mink” and for such songs as “Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera)” from the Alfred Hitchcock film “The Man Who Knew Too Much.”

Over time, she became more than a name above the title: Right down to her cheerful, alliterative stage name, she stood for a time of innocence and G-rated love, a parallel world to her contemporary Marilyn Monroe. The running joke, attributed to both Groucho Marx and actor-composer Oscar Levant, was that they had known Day “before she was a virgin.”

Day herself was no Doris Day, by choice and by hard luck.

In her Oscar-nominated role in 1959’s “Pillow Talk,” the first of her three films with Rock Hudson, she proudly caught up with what she called “the contemporary in me.” Her 1976 tell-all book, “Doris Day: Her Own Story,” chronicled her money troubles and three failed marriages, contrasting with the happy publicity of her Hollywood career.

“I have the unfortunate reputation of being Miss Goody Two-Shoes, America’s Virgin, and all that, so I’m afraid it’s going to shock some people for me to say this, but I staunchly believe no two people should get married until they have lived together,” she wrote.

Day was given a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2004, as George W. Bush declared it “a good day for America when Doris Marianne von Kappelhoff of Evanston, Ohio decided to become an entertainer.”

Although mostly retired from show business since the 1980s, she still had enough of a following that a 2011 collection of previously unreleased songs, “My Heart,” hit the top 10 in the United Kingdom. The same year, she received a lifetime achievement honour from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. Friends and supporters lobbied for years to get her an honorary Oscar.

Designer Stella McCartney, an animal rights advocate, responded to Day’s death Monday by tweeting: “The one, the only, the woman who inspired so much of what I do… Doris Day I love you, my calamity Jane. An iconic woman who I was hugely honoured to meet and share precious moments with. Rest in peace.”

Born to a music teacher and a housewife in Cincinnati, she had dreamed of a dance career, but at age 12 suffered a crippling accident: A car she was in was hit by a train and her leg was badly broken. Listening to the radio while recuperating, she began singing along with Ella Fitzgerald, “trying to catch the subtle ways she shaded her voice, the casual yet clean way she sang the words.”

Day began singing in a Cincinnati radio station, then a local nightclub, then in New York. A bandleader changed her name to Day after the song “Day after Day” to fit it on a marquee.

A marriage at 17 to trombonist Al Jorden ended when, she said, he beat her when she was eight months pregnant. She gave birth to her son, Terry, in early 1942. Her second marriage also was short-lived. She returned to Les Brown’s band after the first marriage broke up.

Her Hollywood career began after she sang at a Hollywood party in 1947. After early stardom as a band singer and a stint at Warner Bros., Day won the best notices of her career with “Love Me or Leave Me,” the story of songstress Ruth Etting and her gangster husband-manager. She initially balked at it, but the 1955 film became a box-office and critical success.

She followed with Hitchcock’s “The Man Who Knew Too Much,” starring with James Stewart as an innocent couple ensnared in an international assassination plot. She sang “Que Sera, Sera” just as the story reached its climax. The 1958 comedy “Teacher’s Pet” paired her with an aging Clark Gable.

But she found her greatest success in slick, stylish sex comedies, beginning with “Pillow Talk.” She and Hudson played two New Yorkers who shared a telephone party line. She followed with “The Thrill of It All,” playing a housewife who gains fame as a TV pitchwoman to the chagrin of obstetrician husband James Garner.

The nation’s theatre owners voted her the top moneymaking star in 1960, 1962, 1963 and 1964.

Her first musical hit was the 1945 smash “Sentimental Journey,” when she was barely in her 20s. Among the other songs she made famous were “Everybody Loves a Lover,” ”Secret Love,” and “It’s Magic,” a song from her first film, “Romance on the High Seas,” her first film.

Critic Gary Giddins called her “the coolest and sexiest female singer of slow-ballads in movie history.”

“Romance on the High Seas” had been designed for Judy Garland, then Betty Hutton. Both bowed out, and Day, recommended by songwriters Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne, won the role. Warner Bros. cashed in on its new star with a series of musicals, including “My Dream Is Yours,” ”Tea for Two” and “Lullaby of Broadway.” Her dramas included “Young Man with a Horn,” with Kirk Douglas and Lauren Bacall, and “Storm Warning,” with Ronald Reagan and Ginger Rogers.

Her last film was “With Six You Get Eggroll,” a 1968 comedy about a widow and a widower who blend families.

“For those of us in my generation, Doris Day was synonymous with Hollywood icon,” actor George Takei said on Twitter Monday. “She would no doubt remind us, upon this day of her passing, ‘Que sera sera,’ but we will miss her dearly anyway.”

In the 1960s, Day discovered that failed investments by her third husband, Martin Melcher, left her deeply in debt. She eventually won a multimillion-dollar judgment against their lawyer.

With movies trending for more explicit sex, she turned to television to recoup her finances. “The Doris Day Show” was a moderate success in its 1966-1973 run on CBS.

Day had married Melcher, who worked in her agent’s office, in 1951. He became her manager, and her son took his name. In most of the films following “Pillow Talk,” Melcher was listed as co-producer. Melcher died in 1969.

In her autobiography, Day recalled her son, Terry Melcher, telling her the $20 million she had earned had vanished and she owed around $450,000, mostly for taxes. Terry Melcher, who died in 2004, became a songwriter and record producer, working with such stars as the Beach Boys. He was also famous for an aspiring musician he turned down, Charles Manson. When Manson and his followers embarked on their murderous rampage in 1969, they headed for a house once owned by Melcher, and instead came upon actress Sharon Tate and some visitors, all of whom were killed.

Day married a fourth time at age 52, to businessman Barry Comden in 1976.

Her wholesome image was referenced in the song “I’m Sandra Dee” in the 1971 musical “Grease,” which included the lyrics: “Watch it, hey, I’m Doris Day/ I was not brought up that way/ Won’t come across/ Even Rock Hudson lost/ His heart to Doris Day.”

___

The late AP writer Bob Thomas in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

As of Friday, Alberta has under 10,000 active COVID-19 cases. (Image courtesy CDC)
Three new COVID-19 deaths in Central zone, Alberta under 10,000 active cases

The Central zone sits at 849 active cases, with 52 people in hospital and 10 in the ICU.

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw announced 16 additional deaths Thursday. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
No easing of Alberta’s COVID-19 measures Thursday, 678 new COVID-19 cases

The province also hit 1,500 COVID-19 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic

Kyler Corriveau, of the Eckville area, was found dead on Sunday southeast of Red Deer. Police are investigating his death as a homicide. (Contributed photo).
Young Red Deer homicide victim is remembered as a caring friend

Police are investigating Kyler Corriveau’s untimely death

Sylvan Lake Winter Village. File Photo
3 charged in connection to vandalism at Sylvan Lake Winter Village

Sylvan Lake RCMP were able to identify the suspects thanks to community assistance

Sabrina Armeneau
Sylvan Lake RCMP search for woman missing for five years

Sabrina Armeneau was reported missing on Jan. 15, but has not been seen in five years

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, updates media on the COVID-19 situation in Edmonton, Friday, March 20, 2020. Hinshaw says residents in long-term care and supportive living facilities will remain the priority as the province grapples with a looming slowdown in COVID-19 vaccine supply. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta long-term care residents remain priority in looming slowdown of COVID vaccine

There are 119 patients in intensive care and 1,463 people have died

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey prepares to speak at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. A mythical, ape-like creature that has captured the imagination of adventurers for decades has now become the target of Rep. Justin Humphrey. Humphrey, a Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season, He says issuing a state hunting license and tag could help boost tourism. (Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman via AP, File)
Oklahoma lawmaker proposes ‘Bigfoot’ hunting season

A Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season

FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2017, file photo, Larry King attends the 45th International Emmy Awards at the New York Hilton, in New York. Former CNN talk show host King has been hospitalized with COVID-19 for more than a week, the news channel reported Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021. CNN reported the 87-year-old King contracted the coronavirus and was undergoing treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)
Larry King, broadcasting giant for half-century, dies at 87

King conducted an estimated 50,000 on-air interviews

Black Press File Photo
Maskwacis RCMP lay charges for attempted murder, kidnapping, and flight from police

Female victim remains in hospital in serious condition.

In this Dec. 18, 2020 photo, pipes to be used for the Keystone XL pipeline are stored in a field near Dorchester, Neb.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Chris Machian /Omaha World-Herald via AP
‘Gut punch’: Alberta Premier Jason Kenney blasts Biden on revoked Keystone XL permit

Kenney said he was upset the U.S. wouldn’t consult with Canada first before acting

Joe Biden, then the U.S. vice-president, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau take their seats at the start of the First Ministers and National Indigenous Leaders meeting in Ottawa, Friday, Dec. 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau, Biden to talk today as death of Keystone XL reverberates in Canada

President Joe Biden opposed the Keystone XL expansion as vice-president under Barack Obama

Prince Edward Island’s provincial flag flies on a flag pole in Ottawa, Friday July 3, 2020. A lozenge plant in Prince Edward Island has laid off 30 workers, citing an “almost non-existent” cold and cough season amid COVID-19 restrictions. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
‘Almost non-existent’ cold and cough season: P.E.I. lozenge plant lays off 30 workers

The apparent drop in winter colds across the country seems to have weakened demand for medicine and natural remedies

Gov. Gen. Julie Payette takes the royal salute from the Guard of Honour as she makes her way deliver the the throne speech, Wednesday, September 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
Gov. Gen. Julie Payette resigns, apologizes for ‘tensions’ at Rideau Hall

Payette, who is the Queen’s representative in Canada, has been the governor general since 2017

Grounded WestJet Boeing 737 Max aircraft are shown at the airline’s facilities in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, May 7, 2019. WestJet will operate the first commercial Boeing 737 Max flight in Canada today since the aircraft was grounded in 2019 following two deadly crashes. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Passengers unfazed as WestJet returns Boeing 737 Max to service on Calgary flight

After a lengthy review process, Transport Canada cleared the plane to return to Canadian airspace

Most Read