Rest in peace to the beautiful actress, singer and animal rights activist Doris Day. Thank you for all of the happiness, gorgeous music, and amazing work you’ve done for animal rights. Heaven has been graced with a grand angel today.
RIP to the loveliest, most wholesome all-American girl next door DorisDay. (3rd April 1922 - 13th May2019) Your feel good films and musical comedies will always bring a smile to my life. So sad she’s gone.
Doris Day represents a bygone or dimming sense of Americanism. She was one who deeply and thoughtfully brightened our lives.
The 97-year-old singer, actress and activist, who died on May 13th, rarely gets the credit she deserves. While Observer film critic Rex Reed is right to lament the unsung prospects of what could’ve been a more brilliant career, Doris Day deserves the highest praise. She was a TV, pop, jazz and movie star but she was foremost a woman of ability.
This she made of herself. The former Doris Kappelhoff of Ohio had wanted to be a dancer, as she wrote in her memoir, until a car crash nearly killed her. During recovery, she turned to song, perfecting a warm, cheerful yet soulful vocal approach that earned her a following on radio and in clubs and choosing her stage name from a favorite song, “Day by Day.”
She recorded her first number one single, “Sentimental Journey” with Les Brown’s big band, in 1945 and kept singing and recording — making a jazz album with Andre Previn in 1961 — recording and releasing a final album, My Heart, in 2012. The late Turner Classic Movies host Robert Osborne conducted an outstanding audio interview with her about her life and career in 2014.
Forecasting movie stardom, director Michael Curtiz cast Doris Day in 1948’s Romance on the High Seas. Curtiz was right. Day starred in scads of critically and commercially successful motion pictures — Young Man With a Horn (’50), On Moonlight Bay (‘51) and, her favorite film, Love Me or Leave Me ('55) — working with Cary Grant, James Stewart and Clark Gable as well as top directors such as Alfred Hitchcock, who was impressed with her dramatic performance as an idealist in Storm Warning, Warner Bros.’ 1951 film about the Ku Klux Klan.
That role, a supporting part opposite Ginger Rogers and Ronald Reagan, exemplifies what’s indelible about Doris Day. Whatever the quality, meaning and impact of the material, she expressed in each performance the uniquely American idealism that the individual — through her own thoughts, ideals and efforts — can go up against, and triumph over, the worst evil or most daunting struggle. Even in Day’s lighter movies and musicals, in which she often co-starred with James Garner, Rock Hudson and Gordon MacRae, this sense of goal-oriented action, purpose and life emanates from her every time.
Day’s appeal and sunny optimism is not marginal. The underestimated brilliance of Day is contained in her ability to see things through — whether in a song, show or character arc — with her innocence and idealism intact. She didn’t merely stress the goodness, though she did this, too. Doris Day let you know that pain, suffering and strife do not matter in the end.
For example, when she embraces her kidnapped son in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much ('56), in which her signature tune, the Academy Award-winning “Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be),” underscores the movie’s theme that the good shall prevail, she projects the warmth of a mother’s love with precision, grit and composure. By then, the audience has been held, moved and gripped by Day’s display of the spectrum of emotions; you are anchored by her strength under strain. But you are delivered into the joy of reunification. The moment is all that matters.
Doris Day endured extreme personal hardship — including being an abused wife, as she recalled in her memoir — yet always sought to accentuate the good. She often did this with a wink as an arch, knowing flirt.
This, not only her good looks, charm, acting, comedy and musical abilities, underscores Doris Day’s Americanism. Her ability to capture and portray the cheerful, upright ethos of uncorrupted idealism runs through every song, movie and TV show. This is why she became America’s top movie star, the nation’s top box-office attraction and beloved heroine.
In a culture in which what is popular and ubiquitous often comes in clumps of vacuous and insipid pictures and shows about fantasy and death, Doris Day luminously blended lightness, seriousness and joy in every endeavor. Her work is about something and, whether as a showgirl, a union activist or a housewife, it’s based on what’s real, not artificial. Day exuded life.
“I liked being married [in movies] instead of the girl who’s looking for a guy,” she once told The Hollywood Reporter. “I liked those scripts because you fight, and it was all real.”
In today’s disunited nation, it’s easy to overlook or forget what Doris Day brought to the culture that unites audiences. She was feminine — think of her Oscar-nominated performance in Pillow Talk ('59) — but she was productive (also Pillow Talk).
She was self-confident and strong, yet she was also vulnerable, soft and fallible and never as an aimless dope, whether as the widowed, single Northern California working mom in her CBS show The Doris Day Show or the terrorized wife in Midnight Lace ('60).
Day did it with aplomb. The self-made Midwesterner who married at Burbank’s city hall and became a Hollywood star danced to Bob Fosse’s choreography (The Pajama Game, '57), played an entrepreneurial activist in It Happened to Jane ('59) and immortalized a frontierswoman (with her Oscar-winning “Secret Love” scoring number one) in Calamity Jane ('53).
Personifying American individualism, Day’s brand of Americanism urges one to do more than aspire, be exceptional and succeed. Her life and career are abundant in examples of the singular pursuit of one’s happiness here on earth. Whatever the latest mass death, destruction and disunity, real or depicted, this — that good and being happy is possible here on earth — is the Doris Day legacy which ought to live on.
Doris Day (April 3, 1922) is an American actress, singer, and animal welfare activist. She began her career as a big band singer in 1939. When she embarked on a solo career, she recorded more than 650 songs from 1947 to 1967, which made her one of the most popular and acclaimed singers of the 20th century.