GIRL NEXT DOOR DORIS DAY DIES
1960s movie star and animal welfare activist Doris Day died Monday at her home in Carmel Valley. She was 97.
Doris Day, the frecklefaced movie actress whose irrepressible personality and golden voice made her America’s top box-office star in the early 1960s, died Monday at her home in Carmel Valley, California. She was 97.
The Doris Day Animal Foundation announced her death.
Day began her career as a big-band vocalist, and she was successful almost from the start. One of her first records, “Sentimental Journey,” released in 1945, sold more than a million copies, and she went on to have numerous other hits. Bandleader Les Brown, with whom she sang for several years, once said, “As a singer Doris belongs in the company of Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra.”
But it was the movies that made her a star.
Between “Romance on the High Seas” in 1948 and “With Six You Get Eggroll” in 1968, she starred in nearly 40 movies. On the screen she turned from the perky girl next door in the 1950s to the woman next door in a series of 1960s sex comedies that brought her four first-place rankings in the yearly popularity poll of theater owners, an accomplishment equaled by no other actress except Shirley Temple.
She went on to appear in fast-paced comedies in which she fended off the advances of Rock Hudson and Cary Grant.
“I suppose she was so clean-cut, with perfect uncapped teeth, freckles and turned-up nose, that people just thought she fitted the concept of a virgin,” Hudson once said of Day. “But when we began ‘Pillow Talk,’ we thought we’d ruin our careers because the script was pretty daring stuff.” The movie’s plot, he said, “involved nothing more than me trying to seduce Doris for eight reels.”
“Pillow Talk” won Day her sole Academy Award nomination.
Day turned down the part of Mrs. Robinson, the middle-aged temptress who seduces Dustin Hoffman in the groundbreaking 1967 film “The Graduate,” because, she said, the notion of an older woman seducing a young man “offended my sense of values.” The part went to Anne Bancroft, who was nominated for an Academy Award.
By the time she retired in 1973, after starring for five years on “The Doris Day Show,” Day had been dismissed as a goody-twoshoes, the leader of Hollywood’s chastity brigade.
But the passing decades have brought a reappraisal, especially by some feminists, of Day’s screen personality and her achievements. In her book “Holding My Own in No Man’s Land” (1997), critic Molly Haskell described Day as “challenging, in her working-woman roles, the limited destiny of women to marry, live happily ever after and never be heard from again.”
At 15, Day’s leg was shattered when the automobile in which she was riding was hit by a train. To distract Doris during the year it took the leg to mend, her mother paid for singing lessons.
Day told Hotchner that another important thing happened during her year of recuperation: She was given a small dog.
During the last decades of her life, through her foundation, Day spent much of her time rescuing and finding homes for stray dogs, and she worked to end the use of animals in cosmetics and household-products research.
Actress and animal rights activist Doris Day received the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the annual Golden Globe Awards ceremony in Los Angeles on Jan. 28, 1989.