I am in deep mourning. Doris Day, the girl next door, the girl you wanted to bring home to mother and romantic lead, has passed away at 97. There will be no funeral, no memorial and no grave marker. She did not like the idea of preparing for death or turning it into an event. Her estate will be donated to charity, primarily the Doris Day Animal Foundation.
You could say her career started at 13 when she and her brother won a talent contest against experienced adults. With her voice and and dancing ability, they never stood a chance. As an adult she worked as a band singer, scoring her first big hit in 1945 with Les Brown & His Band of Renown, Sentimental Journey.
She had a long run as a leading lady in the movies, starting in 1948 and ongoing thru 1969. There was a 5 year stint on the Doris Day Show on television 1968-1973 and then another in Doris Day and Friends, 1985–1986 . For most of her movie career, she was America’s sweetheart and had several years as America’s top box office draw. She is generally ranked as the number one actress of her era in popularity.
Many of her early roles were as a virginal – or motherly – ideal; a girl that soldiers would want as their girl back home. Her later roles, particularly Pillowtalk, pushed the limits of what late 1950s America could handle.
Privately she lived a life of sexual and sensual pleasure with four husbands and numerous lovers. Back then the studio had to keep this hushed up, as a sexually free woman would lose the all-important family audience. Today it would be expected, accepted and maybe applauded.
The real Calamity Jane on the left, Doris Day’s’ movie version on the right.
She was a mainstay of my childhood. Any movie with her was certain to be good. Her forte was the rom-com but she did everything from Hitchcock to westerns. Her voice combined power and femininity in multiple musical hits. Her characters combined innocence with suggestiveness, vulnerability with confidence, and smoldering heat just below a sometimes icy surface.
Doris Day aged gracefully without the surgery or implants or botox so common today. She let her smile lines show for all to see and it only made her more beautiful.
Her like has not been seen since, though many have tried. Maybe Goldie Hawn and Meg Ryan came closest. I doubt we will see her like again.
Doris Day in the Hitchcock thriller, The Man Who Knew too Much; opposite Jimmy Stewart. I think every man wanted her as the mother of his children and every child wanted her as their mommy.
“Que Sera Sera” won awards at Cannes and pegged the top of the Billboard charts. But my favorite has always been “Secret Love”.
And who can forget this from Pajama Game?