Doris Day Dies at 97
One of Hollywood’s last living legends has left us. Doris Day died on Monday at her home in California. According to a statement Day’s foundation sent to the Associated Press, “Day had been in excellent physical health for her age, until recently contracting a serious case of pneumonia, resulting in her death.” She was 97 years old.
Born and raised in Ohio, Day initially dreamed of being a dancer, but an injury suffered in a car accident made that impossible. Instead, she began singing to pass the time while she was recovering from the accident, and soon was performing in clubs around Cincinnati. She recorded many hits and became one of the most famous singers in the country in the 1950s
Hollywood came next, as she began working steadily in films and cultivating an image as an all-American girl. Her most famous movies include the Alfred Hitchcock thriller The Man Who Knew Too Much (opposite Jimmy Stewart) and Love Me or Leave Me with James Cagney. She also had a memorable onscreen partnership with Rock Hudson, starting with 1959’s beloved romantic comedy Pillow Talk and continuing through two more features. For five years in the late 1960s and early 1970s, she starred on The Doris Day Show for CBS.
Despite her wholesome public persona, Day sometimes had a difficult life. She was married four different times, and not always happily. According to the AP, she left her first husband, musician Al Jorden, after “he beat her when she was eight months pregnant.” When her third husband died in 1969, he saddled her with hundreds of thousands of dollars in debts and had committed her to making The Doris Day Show against her will.
Day essentially retired in the 1980s without ever winning an Academy Award. (Her only nomination came for Pillow Talk; she lost to Simone Signoret for Room at the Top.) But her great movies, particularly the ones with Rock Hudson, have remained favorites for generations, and her renditions of many songs, including “Que Sera, Sera” from The Man Who Knew Too Much, have become classic standards. As long as people continue to watch movies from Hollywood’s Golden Age, they will watch (and love) Doris Day.
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