The day Doris just rang up ..& became my friend Mega fan Martin on his Hollywood pal
SUPERFAN Martin Woodsford fired off a string of expletives as a “prankster” rang up and announced she was Doris Day.
The then 21-year-old was setting up an international fan club to his idol and was convinced someone was pulling his leg.
But the person on the line WAS Hollywood legend Doris.
And that call triggered a lasting bond which saw the unlikely pair becoming the greatest of friends.
At the time Martin, who was working as a trainee nurse, was struggling with depression after an abusive childhood.
He had written to Doris – who died this month aged 97 – to say he was appearing in an amateur production of one of her films, Calamity Jane.
She sent signed photos. And when he said he was setting up the fan club, Doris rang the hospital where he worked. His response was met with laughs by the actress, who Martin credits with saving his life.
Over the years, Doris – who suffered marital abuse – often called Martin and always replied to his letters. Martin, now 47, said: “I still can’t believe it. But she really cared about people.
“I think she wanted to treat others as she wanted to be treated herself.
“She endured so much adversity in her own life and I think she wanted to do something to bring a little happiness to my life.”
Martin was beaten and kicked by his alcoholic father, who would even stub out cigarettes on his son’s skin. The ordeal ended when, aged 11, he was taken into care.
Martin, from Penarth in Wales, said: “I told Doris how much she meant to me and how she had
helped me survive my childhood. I loved watching her music and films. Her wholesome image was comforting. It gave me hope. Doris said she was pleased her films had given me the strength to carry on.
“She told me I had so much to give to the world and I just needed to believe I could achieve and then I absolutely would. Her words have stuck with me for ever.”
Martin loved Doris’s songs – especially Que Será, Será, from The Man Who Knew too Much, the Hitchcock film she starred in.
He once sent her a painting he had done of a Dalmatian, and she said she would hang it on her wall. The pair exchanged 30 or so calls down the years. Martin went on: “She was just so personable and I felt privileged and honoured that she was calling me. She never wanted to talk about herself, other than her animal welfare work. She always wanted to find out what I was doing. She loved hearing of the cup-cake business I’d set up in her honour called Cake Sera, Sera!
“Just a conversation with her or a letter would lift my mood.”
At Doris’s invitation, Martin stayed at her dog-friendly hotel in Carmel, California. Now the home he shares with fiancé Simon Cotton is decorated in yellow – Doris’s favourite colour. He named his dogs Doris and Oscar, saying: “It’s the Oscar she never got.”
Martin, who runs Slimming World groups after shedding 13 stone, added: “She’s the biggest influence on my life. Her legacy is no matter what life throws at you, there is always another door that will open.”
IT’S ALL IN A DAY’S WORK Actress Doris Day struck up friendshipwith No1 British fan
LETTER Doris’s note after Martin sent painting
FRIEND Doris fan Martin
IDOLISED InCalamity Jane role