Doris Day sings out for 1st time in 17 years

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - - MAGAZINE - By Lynn Elber The As­so­ci­ated Press

LOS AN­GE­LES — Doris Day, Amer­ica’s pert, honey-voiced sweet­heart of the 1950s and 1960s, be­guiled au­di­ences with her on-screen ro­mances op­po­site top Hol­ly­wood lead­ing men Cary Grant, Rock Hud­son and Jack Lem­mon.

She adored and misses them all, says the 88-year-old Ms. Day. But her deep­est yearn­ing is re­served for her late son, Terry Melcher, a record pro­ducer whose touch and voice are part of her first al­bum in nearly two decades.

“Oh, I wish he could be here and be a part of it. I would just love that. But it didn’t work out that way,” Ms. Day said, her voice sub­dued. It’s a voice rarely heard since she with­drew from Hol­ly­wood in the early 1980s to the haven she made for her­self in the North­ern Cal­i­for­nia town of Carmel, where Clint East­wood was once mayor.

“My Heart,” her first al­bum since 1994’s “The Love Al­bum,” is set for U.S. re­lease Fri­day, and has in­duced Ms. Day to edge back to pub­lic at­ten­tion. The CD in­cludes 13 pre­vi­ously un­re­leased tracks recorded over a 40-year span, in­clud­ing cov­ers of Joe Cocker’s “You Are So Beau­ti­ful,” the Lovin’ Spoon­ful’s “Day­dream” and a hand­ful of stan­dards. All pro­ceeds go to Ms. Day’s long­time cause, an­i­mal wel­fare.

A con­densed ver­sion of the al­bum was re­leased in Bri­tain ear­lier this fall and landed on the top 10 chart.

Mr. Melcher, who worked with bands in­clud­ing the Byrds and the Beach Boys, pro­duced most of the songs and sang on two. He died of melanoma in 2004 at age 62, leav­ing a void that draws tears from Ms. Day when she speaks of him.

“I loved do­ing it and hav­ing Terry with me. That was im­por­tant, just for me,” she said in an in­ter­view from Carmel. “I wouldn’t think it would be what it is. … I just love that he is on it. And I miss him ter­ri­bly, but I have that.”

The al­bum’s re­lease co­in­cides with new recog­ni­tion for the ac­tress and singer.

It was an­nounced this week that her record­ing of “Que Sera, Sera” (“What­ever Will Be, Will Be”), fea­tured in Al­fred Hitch­cock’s 1956 thriller “The Man Who Knew Too Much” star­ring Ms. Day and Jimmy Ste­wart, will be in­cluded in the Grammy Hall of Fame. In Jan­uary, Ms. Day is to be hon­ored with the Los An­ge­les Film Crit­ics As­so­ci­a­tion’s ca­reer achieve­ment award.

And that ca­reer was sto­ried. She once ruled the box of­fice in a string of fluffy come­dies in­clud­ing “Pil­low Talk” with Mr. Hud­son (which earned her a best ac­tress nom­i­na­tion) and “That Touch of Mink” op­po­site Mr. Grant, movies that show­cased her verve and fresh-faced sex­i­ness. Her sweet vo­cals helped make hits of pop tunes in­clud­ing “Sen­ti­men­tal Jour­ney” and Os­car win­ners “Que Sera, Sera” and “Se­cret Love.”

On screen, she of­ten played the de­ter­mined sin­gle ca­reer girl who could be swept off her feet (but never into pre­mar­i­tal sex) by such ir­re­sistible suit­ors as Mr. Grant or three-time co-star Mr. Hud­son. She was also the lov­ing wife and mother in such movies as “Please Don’t Eat the Daisies” (1960), with David Niven.

She came off as a straight­shooter who didn’t let her beauty go to her head; she was no “Mad Men” toy. Granted, she was too la­dy­like to fit the def­i­ni­tion of a dame, in the par­lance of her early ca­reer. But she could hold her ground with­out fray­ing the hem of her tone-per­fect cin­e­matic fem­i­nin­ity, or her co-star’s mas­culin­ity.

She ven­tured into ex­cep­tions to her sig­na­ture ro­man­tic-come­dies, most no­tably the Hitch­cock thriller and “Love Me or Leave Me” from 1955, in which she played jazz singer Ruth Et­ting in the story of Et­ting’s ca­reer and tem­pes­tu­ous mar­riage.

Ms. Day said she had no quar­rel with the stu­dio sys­tem un­der which she worked, one in which her films were largely dic­tated. She had stum­bled into the craft, af­ter all, pushed from band and club singer to ac­tress by her agent. Ms. Day got the first role she tested for, in 1948’s “Ro­mance on the High Seas,” and sailed on from there.

“I was just put there, put there, put there. And I’ve never got­ten over that. How could life be so good for me and I was never look­ing? I was never look­ing for it,” she said.

As for her per­sonal life, she said, “There are al­ways things that you go through that aren’t per­fect.” For Ms. Day, that in­cluded three di­vorces and wid­ow­hood. When her third hus­band died, she learned that he and a busi­ness part­ner had lost her mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar for­tune. (She righted her­self to some ex­tent with the 1968-73 sit­com “The Doris Day Show,” and a law­suit.)

Her de­ci­sion to leave Los An­ge­les and the in­dus­try be­hind was an im­promptu one, Ms. Day said. She had reg­u­larly vis­ited Carmel-by-the-sea, de­cided it suited her and made the move up the Cal­i­for­nia coast and away.

“I just loved what I was do­ing. But then, when I came up here, I thought well, I had my turn, and that’s just fine. And the other peo­ple are com­ing up and star­ring and it was their turn. I didn’t think a thing about not work­ing,” she said.

In­stead, she de­voted her­self to pro­mot­ing the well-be­ing of an­i­mals with the Doris Day An­i­mal Foun­da­tion, which she cre­ated in 1978 and which is the new al­bum’s ben­e­fi­ciary. Her own pets, in­clud­ing some half-dozen cats, have it good: She built a glass-ceil­ing ex­ten­sion off her house so the fe­lines can en­joy the view with­out the risks of go­ing out­side.

Why the at­ten­tion to an­i­mals? “They’re the most per­fect things on Earth,” Ms. Day replied. “They’re loyal. They love you. And they’ll never for­get you. … I think they’re put here for us to learn what love is all about.”

They’re also stead­fast com­pan­ions as her cir­cle of fam­ily and friends has been nar­rowed by death. She’s still in reg­u­lar touch with two-time co-star James Gar­ner — who shares anec­dotes about their work­ing re­la­tion­ship in his newly pub­lished au­to­bi­og­ra­phy, “The Gar­ner Files” — but she notes sadly how many other col­leagues have passed away.

Although damp­ened by loss, the buoy­ancy that in­fused her work in movies and mu­sic re­mains part of Day. In her ninth decade of life, how­ever, the pace has changed.

“Life Is Just a Bowl of Cher­ries” (“Life is just a bowl of cher­ries. So live and laugh at it all”), a snappy tune and a fa­vorite since she danced to it as a 5-yearold in Cincin­nati, is on her new al­bum. But the ar­range­ment has turned it into “beau­ti­ful bal­lad,” Ms. Day said.

“When I sang it slowly, it be­came a su­per song,” she said.

The same can be said of Ms. Day, in any tempo.

As­so­ci­ated Press

Ac­tors Doris Day and Tony Cur­tis, pose with their awards for best ac­tress and ac­tor pre­sented by the Hol­ly­wood For­eign Press As­so­ci­a­tion in 1958. Ms. Day, Amer­ica’s pert sweet­voiced sweet­heart of the 1960s, re­leases “My Heart,” be­low, her first al­bum...

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.