Doris Day died aged ninety-seven on 13th May 2019 from pneumonia. Her death was announced by her charity, the Doris Doris Day Animal Foundation. Doris had been divorced from all her four husbands and was survived by her grandson, Ryan.
Doris Day was born Doris Mary Ann Kappelhoff on 3rd April 1922, in Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.A.
Doris had developed an early interest in dance, and in the mid-1930s formed a dance duo with Jerry Doherty that performed locally in Cincinnati but a car accident in 1937, injured her right leg and curtailed her prospects of becoming a professional dancer.
While recovering from the accident, Doris started to sing along with the radio and discovered a talent she did not know she had.
Observing her daughter sing rekindled Doris's mother Alma's interest in show business, and she decided Doris should have singing lessons. Alma then engaged a teacher and after three lessons, the teacher told Alma that young Doris had "tremendous potential"
During the eight months she was taking singing lessons, Doris had her first professional jobs as a vocalist, on the WLW radio program Carlin's Carnival, and in a local restaurant, Charlie Yee's Shanghai Inn. During her radio performances, Doris first caught the attention of Barney Rapp, who was looking for a female vocalist and asked if Doris Day would like to audition for the job. According to Rapp, he had auditioned about two hundred singers when Doris Day got the job.
While working for Rapp in 1939, Doris adopted the stage name "Doris Day", at Rapp's suggestion. After working with Rapp, Doris Day worked with bandleaders Jimmy James, Bob Crosby, and Les Brown. In 1941, Doris Day appeared as a singer in three Soundies with the Les Brown band.
While working with Brown, Doris Day recorded her first hit recording, "Sentimental Journey", released in early 1945. It soon became an anthem of the desire of World War II demobilizing troops to return home. The song continues to be associated with Doris Day, and she re-recorded it on several occasions, including a version in her 1971 television special. During 1945–46, Doris Day, as vocalist with the Les Brown Band, had six other top ten hits on the Billboard chart: "My Dreams Are Getting Better All the Time", "'Tain't Me", "Till The End of Time", "You Won't Be Satisfied (Until You Break My Heart)", "The Whole World is Singing My Song", and "I Got the Sun in the Mornin'".
While singing with the Les Brown band and for nearly two years on Bob Hope's weekly radio program, Doris toured extensively across the United States of America.
Her performance of the song "Embraceable You" impressed songwriter Jule Styne and his partner, Sammy Cahn, and they recommended her for a role in Romance on the High Seas in 1948. Doris Day got the part after auditioning for director Michael Curtiz. She was shocked at being offered the role in the film, and admitted to Curtiz that she was a singer without acting experience. But he said he liked that "she was honest," not afraid to admit it, and he wanted someone who "looked like the All-American Girl," which he felt she did. Doris Day was the discovery of which Curtiz was most proud of during his career.
The film provided her with a number 2 hit recording as a soloist, "It's Magic", which followed by two months her first number 1 hit ("Love Somebody" in 1948 recorded as a duet with Buddy Clark. Doris Day recorded "Someone Like You", before the 1949 film 'My Dream Is Yours', which featured the song.
In 1950, U.S. servicemen in Korea voted her their favorite star. She continued to make minor and frequently nostalgic period musicals such as On Moonlight Bay, By the Light of the Silvery Moon, and Tea For Two for Warner Brothers.
Her most commercially successful film for Warner was 'I'll See You in My Dreams' in 1951, which broke box-office records of twenty years. The film is a musical biography of lyricist Gus Kahn. It was Doris Day's fourth film directed by Curtiz. Doris Day appeared as the title character in the comedy western-themed musical, 'Calamity Jane' in 1953. A song from the film, "Secret Love", won the Academy Award for Best Original Song and became Doris Day's fourth number 1 hit single in the United States.
Between 1950 and 1953, the albums from six of her movie musicals charted in the Top 10, three of them at number 1. After filming 'Lucky Me' with Bob Cummings and Young at Heart , both 1954, with Frank Sinatra, Doris Day chose not to renew her contract with Warner Brothers.
Doris Day had seventeen top 30 hits in the United Kingdom, between 1952 and 1964. These were: 'Sugarbush' and 'My Love and Devotion' in 1952, 'Ma Says Pa Says', 'Full Time Job' and 'Lets Walk That-a-way' in 1953, 'Secret Love', 'The Black Hills of Dakota' and 'If I Give My Heart to You' in 1954, 'Ready, Willing and Able', 'Love Me or Leave Me' and 'I'll Never Stop Loving You' in 1955, 'Whatever Will Be Will Be' in 1956, 'A Very Precious Love' and 'Everybody Loves a Lover' in 1958 and 'Move Over Darling' in 1964.
Doris Day also had her own American radio program, The Doris Doris Day Show. It was broadcast on CBS in 1952 and 1953.
Having become primarily recognized as a musical-comedy actress, Doris Day gradually took on more dramatic roles to broaden her range. Her dramatic star-turn as singer Ruth Etting in 'Love Me or Leave Me' in 1955, co-starring James Cagney, received critical and commercial success, becoming Doris Day's biggest success thus far. Doris said it was her best film performance. Producer Joe Pasternak said he was stunned that Doris did not get an Oscar nomination. The soundtrack album from that movie was a number 1 hit.
Doris Day starred in Alfred Hitchcock's suspense film, The Man Who Knew Too Much in 1956 with James Stewart. She sang two songs in the film, "Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)", which won an Academy Award for Best Original Song, and "We'll Love Again". The film was Doris Day's 10th movie to be in the Top 10 at the box office. In 1956, Doris Day played the title role in the thriller/noir 'Julie' with Louis Jourdan.
After three successive dramatic films, Doris Day returned to her musical/comedy roots in 1957's 'The Pajama Game' with John Raitt. The film was based on the Broadway play of the same name. Doris worked with Paramount Pictures for the comedy 'Teacher's Pet' in 1958, alongside Clark Gable and Gig Young. She co-starred with Richard Widmark and Gig Young in the romantic comedy film, 'The Tunnel of Love' in 1958 but found limited aclaim opposite Jack Lemmon in 'It Happened to Jane' in 1959.
Billboard's annual nationwide poll of disc jockeys had ranked Doris Day as the number One female vocalist nine times in ten years, but her success and popularity as a singer was now being overshadowed by her box-office appeal
In 1959, Doris Day entered her most successful phase as a film actress with a series of romantic comedies. This success began with 'Pillow Talk' in 1959, co-starring Rock Hudson, who became a lifelong friend, and Tony Randall. Doris Day received a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Actress. Doris Day, Hudson, and Randall made two more films together; 'Lover Come Back' in 1961 and 'Send Me No Flowers' in 1964.
In 1960, Doris Day starred with David Niven and Janis Paige in the hit 'Please Don't Eat the Daisies'. In 1962, Doris appeared with Cary Grant in the comedy 'That Touch of Mink', the first film in history ever to gross one million dollars in one theatre. During 1960 and the 1962 to 1964 period, Doris ranked number one at the box office, the second woman to be number one four times. She set a record that has yet to be equaled, receiving seven consecutive Laurel Awards as the top female box office star.
Doris Day teamed up with James Garner, starting with 'The Thrill of It All', followed by 'Move Over, Darling' both in 1963. The film's theme song, "Move Over Darling", co-written by her son, reached number eight in the UK charts. In between these comedic roles, Doris Day co-starred with Rex Harrison in the movie thriller 'Midnight Lace' in 1960, an updating of the classic stage thriller, 'Gaslight'.
By the late 1960s, the sexual revolution of the baby boomer generation had re-focused public attitudes about sex. Times changed, but Doris Day's films did not. Doris Day's next film, 'Do Not Disturb' in 1965, was popular with audiences, but her popularity soon waned. Critics and comics dubbed Doris Day "The World's Oldest Virgin", and audiences began to shy away from her films. As a result, she slipped from the list of top box-office stars, last appearing in the top ten in 1966 with the hit film 'The Glass Bottom Boat'. One of the roles she turned down was that of "Mrs. Robinson" in The Graduate, a role that eventually went to Anne Bancroft. In her published memoirs, Doris Day said she had rejected the part on moral grounds and that she found the script vulgar and offensive.
Doris Day starred in the western film 'The Ballad of Josie' in 1967. That same year, Doris recorded 'The Love Album', although it was not released until 1994. The following year, 1968 , she starred in the comedy film 'Where Were You When the Lights Went Out?' which centers on the Northeast U.S.A. blackout of November 1965. Her final feature, the comedy, 'With Six You Get Eggroll', was released in 1968.
From 1959 to 1970, Doris Day received nine Laurel Award nominations, and won four times, for best female performance in eight comedies and one drama. From 1959 through 1969, she received six Golden Globe nominations for best female performance in three comedies, one drama (Midnight Lace), one musical (Jumbo), and her television series.
After her third husband Martin Melcher died in April 1968, a shocked Doris Day discovered that Melcher and his business partner Jerome Bernard Rosenthal had squandered her earnings, leaving her deeply in debt. Rosenthal had been her attorney since 1949, when he represented her in her uncontested divorce action against her second husband, saxophonist George W. Weidler. Doris Day filed suit against Rosenthal in February 1969, won a successful decision in 1974, but did not receive compensation until a settlement in 1979.
Doris Day also learned to her displeasure that Melcher had committed her to a television series, which became The Doris Doris Day Show.
Doris Day hated the idea of performing on television, but felt obligated to do it. The first episode of 'The Doris Doris Day Show' aired on 24th September 1968 and, from 1968 to 1973, employed "Que Sera, Sera" as its theme song. Doris Day persevered , but only after CBS ceded creative control to her and her son. The successful show enjoyed a five-year run and functioned as a curtain raiser for the popular Carol Burnett Show.
By the end of its run in 1973, public tastes had changed and her firmly established persona was regarded as out-of-date. She largely retired from acting after The Doris Doris Day Show, but did complete two television specials, The Doris Mary Anne Kappelhoff Special in 1971 and 'Doris Doris Day Today' in 1975. Doris appeared on the John Denver TV show in 1974.
In the 1985–86 season, Doris Day hosted her own television talk show, 'Doris Day's Best Friends', on CBN. The network cancelled the show after 26 episodes, despite the worldwide publicity it received. Much of that came from her interview with Rock Hudson, in which a visibly ill Rock was showing the first public symptoms of AIDS; Hudson died from the syndrome a year later.
Doris Day was scheduled to present, along with Patrick Swayze and Marvin Hamlisch, the Best Original Score Oscar at the 61st Academy Awards in March 1989 but Doris suffered a deep leg cut and was unable to attend. She had been walking through the gardens of her hotel when she cut her leg on a sprinkler which required surgical stitches.
Doris Day was inducted into the Ohio Women's Hall of Fame in 1981 and received the Cecil B. DeMille Award for career achievement in 1989. In 1994, Doris Day's Greatest Hits album became another entry into the British charts. Her cover of "Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps" was included in the soundtrack of the Australian film 'Strictly Ballroom'.
Doris Day participated in interviews and celebrations of her birthday with an annual Doris Day music marathon. In July 2008, she appeared on the Southern California radio show of longtime friend, newscaster George Putnam.
Doris Day turned down a tribute offer from the American Film Institute and from the Kennedy Center Honors because they require attendance in person. In 2004, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush for her achievements in the entertainment industry and for her work on behalf of animals.
Doris Day received a Grammy for Lifetime Achievement in Music in 2008, albeit again in absentia. She received three Grammy Hall of Fame Awards, in 1998, 1999 and 2012 for her recordings of "Sentimental Journey", "Secret Love", and "Que Sera, Sera", respectively. Doris Day was inducted into the Hit Parade Hall of Fame in 2007, and in 2010 received the first Legend Award ever presented by the Society of Singers.
Doris Day, aged 89, released My Heart in the United Kingdom on September 5, 2011, her first new album in nearly two decades, since the release of 'The Love Album', which, although recorded in 1967, was not released until 1994. The album is a compilation of previously unreleased recordings produced by Doris Day's son, Terry Melcher, before his death in 2004. Tracks include the 1970s Joe Cocker hit "You Are So Beautiful", the Beach Boys' "Disney Girls" and jazz standards such as "My Buddy", which Doris Day originally sang in her 1951 film I'll See You in My Dreams.
After the disc was released in the US it soon climbed to number 12 on Amazon's bestseller list, and helped raise funds for the Doris Day Animal League. Doris Day became the oldest artist to score a UK Top 10 with an album featuring new material.
In January 2012, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association presented Doris Day with a Lifetime Achievement Award.
In April 2014, Doris Day made an unexpected public appearance to attend the annual Doris Day Animal Foundation benefit. The benefit raises money for her Animal Foundation.
Clint Eastwood offered Doris Day a role in a film he was planning to direct in 2015. Although she reportedly was in talks with Eastwood, her neighbor in Carmel, about a role in the film, she eventually declined.
Doris Day granted an ABC telephone interview on her birthday in 2016, which was accompanied by photos of her life and career.
In a rare interview with The Hollywood Reporter on 4th April 2019, the day after her 97th birthday, Doris Day talked about her work on the Doris Day Animal Foundation, founded in 1978. On the question of what her favorite film was, she answered 'Calamity Jane': "I was such a tomboy growing up, and she was such a fun character to play. Of course, the music was wonderful, too—'Secret Love,' especially, is such a beautiful song." To commemorate her birthday, her fans gather each year to take part in a three-day party in her hometown of Carmel, California, in late March. The event is also a fundraiser for her Animal Foundation. In 2019, during the event, there was a special screening of her 1959 film 'Pillow Talk' to celebrate its 60th anniversary. About the film Doris Day stated in the same interview that she "had such fun working with my pal, Rock. We laughed our way through three films we made together and remained great friends. I miss him."
Doris Day's interest in animal welfare and related issues seemingly dates to her teenage years. While recovering from an automobile accident, she took her dog Tiny for a walk without a leash. Tiny ran into the street and was killed by a passing car. Doris Day later expressed guilt and loneliness about Tiny's untimely death. In 1971, she co-founded Actors and Others for Animals, and appeared in a series of newspaper advertisements denouncing the wearing of fur, alongside Mary Tyler Moore, Angie Dickinson, and Jayne Meadows.
In 1978, Doris Day founded the Doris Day Pet Foundation, now the Doris Doris Day Animal Foundation (DDAF). A non-profit grant-giving public charity, DDAF funds other non-profit causes throughout the America that share DDAF's mission of helping animals and the people who love them. The DDAF continues to operate independently.
To complement the Doris Doris Day Animal Foundation, Doris Day formed the Doris Day Animal League (DDAL) in 1987, a national non-profit citizen's lobbying organization whose mission is to reduce pain and suffering and protect animals through legislative initiatives. Doris Day actively lobbied the United States Congress in support of legislation designed to safeguard animal welfare on a number of occasions and in 1995 she originated the annual Spay Doris Day USA. The DDAL merged into The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) in 2006. The HSUS now manages World Spay Doris Day, the annual one-day spay/neuter event that Doris Day originated.
A facility bearing her name, the Doris Doris Day Horse Rescue and Adoption Center, which helps abused and neglected horses, opened in 2011 in Murchison, Texas, on the grounds of an animal sanctuary started by her late friend, author Cleveland Amory. Doris Day contributed two hundred and fifty thousand dollars towards the founding of the center. Doris Day was also a vegetarian.
After her retirement from films, Doris lived in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, U.S.A. where she had many pets and adopted stray animals.