One of the last big icons of the Golden Age of Hollywood and blond-topped ray of human sunshine, Doris Day, died early this morning at her home in Carmel Valley, CA. She was with her loved ones at the time, which I’m guessing included several dog friends since Doris Day was a noted warrior for the furries (furries, as animals!). She was 97.
The Doris Day Animal Foundation confirmed the sad news to the Associated Press in a statement saying that health-wise she was kicking ass for being 97, but then that demonic shit devil pneumonia came along.
“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.”
Doris Day (born name: Doris Mary Ann Kappelhoff) started her career as a singer, and learned her talent for singing when she was recovering from a car accident, and passed the time in bed by cooing out cashmere-wrapped musical notes of sweetness. She took singing lessons, and became a big band singer, getting a hit in 1945 with Sentimental Journey.
Her Wikipedia entry says that songwriters Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn loved her version of Embraceable You and suggested she audition for 1948’s Romance on the High Seas. She got the role and the was the first step in the road to Doris Day: The Movie Star.
Doris got a contract with Warner Bros, where she did several musicals including I’ll See You In My Dreams and Calamity Jane. Doris left Warner Bros., and decided to shake up her image as a musical comedy star by getting into drama. She did Love Me Or Leave Me, Julie, and Alfred Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much in 1956. The Man Who Knew Too Much helped turn Doris Day into an INTERNATIONAL STAH, and also introduced our ears to the ear worm Que Sera Sera (which won the Oscar for Best Original Song and became a classic hit, which I learned about thanks to Heathers).
At the end of the 1950s, Doris became an even bigger star thanks to the classic Pillow Talk, with her regular partner in musical comedy brilliance Rock Hudson. Yes, Pillow Talk is mostly a wholesome G-rated sex comedy (which Doris was the queen of), but they did get progressive thanks to this:
Doris Day and Rock Hudson also did Lover Come Back and Send Me No Flowers together.
Throughout the 1960s, Doris starred in Please Don’t Eat The Daisies, The Thrill Of It All, That Touch Of Mink, and Do Not Disturb. She was offered the role of Mrs. Robinson in The Graduate, but turned it down, because she thought the script was vulgar. Her last movie With Six You Get Eggroll (that title!) came out in 1968.
She got one Oscar nomination for Pillow Talk, and won several Golden Globes.
Doris found out she was broke after her third husband, Martin Melcher, died in 1968. Martin and his shady business partner squandered all her money. So Doris paid off her debuts by doing the CBS show The Doris Day Show and it ran for five years.
She was given the Presidential Medal Of Freedom by George W. Bush in 2004. And even though she retired from show business in the 1980s, she released an album in 2011 called My Heart, which was filled with previously unreleased songs recored by her only child Terry Melcher. Doris spent most of her time fighting for the rights of animals friends and working with her foundation.
Doris and Rock Hudson remained friends, and she had him on her variety show in 1985. He died that same year of AIDS-related complications. Doris talked to People a few years ago about the last time she saw him:
“I hardly knew him,” said Day. “He was very sick. But I just brushed that off and I came out and put my arms around him and said ‘Am I glad to see you.’”
Day shared his last visit broke her heart.
“He’d get very tired,” said Day. “I’d bring him his lunch and fix him a big platter but he couldn’t eat it. I’d say, ‘What if I get a fork and feed you?’ But he said ‘Doris I can’t eat.’
“They had a small plane to get him to the airport. We kissed goodbye and he gave me a big hug and he held onto me. I was in tears. That was the last time I saw him — but he’s in heaven now.”
And now they’re together in heaven, where Doris may or may not be thinking, “If I have to hear Que Sera Sera one more time…”
Rest in peace, Doris Day.
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