The beloved and iconic star Doris Day died of pneumonia on Monday, May 13 at the age of 97 in her Carmel Valley, California home surrounded by loved ones. Day’s business manager and close friend Bob Bashara said she “died peacefully” after a fulfilling life working on films and television shows. The contagiously joyous actress and singer proved to be elusive later in life and requested no funeral services, gravesites, or other public memorials be held after her passing.

Born in Ohio, Doris Day took Hollywood by storm, starring in nearly 40 films. Her acting career started towards the end of Hollywood’s Golden Age in 1948 with the musical Romance on the High Seas. Ms. Day had been recommended for the role after placing number one on the billboards for the World War II hit “A Sentimental Journey”—a song that gained her celebrity status at the age of 23. Invited to audition for Romance on the High Seas, Day was shocked to hear she landed the role without having any acting experience under her belt. When director Michael Curtiz found out she was taking acting lessons to prepare for the part, he demanded she stop, insisting Day was a natural.

Ms. Day’s mesmerizing voice continued to captivate audiences far and wide over the span of two decades with over 650 recorded songs. And in film, the Cincinnati star played the part of the wholesome, radiant “girl next door,” starring alongside romantic leads the likes of Rock Hudson, Cary Grant, Clark Gable, Jack Lemmon, and Frank Sinatra. Day proved to be a tremendous box-office draw for twenty years while starring in musicals, comedies, and dramas.

In 1953, Ms. Day played the title character in the western-themed musical Calamity Jane—a tomboyish role that, decades later, she fondly remembered as her favorite out of all the parts she’d ever played. Two years later, wishing to broaden her range to include dramatic roles, Day was cast as the singer Ruth Etting in Love Me or Leave Me. It was her biggest hit yet and served as a breakthrough performance. James Cagney, her co-star in the film, described what it was like to work with Day, saying she had “the ability to project the simple, direct statement of a simple, direct idea without cluttering it.”

In Alfred Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much, Day was cast alongside James Stewart, and her singing performance of “Que Sera, Sera” was honored with an Oscar for Best Original Song. Her close friend, Bashara, explained to People magazine, “[Doris] lived by her most famous song, ‘Que Sera, Sera.’ That was her belief. Whatever will be, will be, and there is a purpose for everything that happens, and [she needed] to get on with her life. She always looked forward and looked for the good in whatever happened.”

Day’s film career peaked with the 1959 romantic comedy Pillow Talk with Rock Hudson. In fact, her performance earned her an Oscar nod for Best Actress.

But Ms. Day’s wholesome quality was no longer perceived to be in style by the late 1960s. She turned down the part of Mrs. Robinson in the 1967 film The Graduate, and in turn, Anne Bancroft landed the gig. In Day’s memoir, she said she turned it down on moral grounds, believing the script was “vulgar and offensive.”

When her film career ended in 1968, the talented lady didn’t rest. Rather, discovering her husband’s actions had put her in serious debt, she continued to work out of necessity, starring in the sitcom The Doris Day Show which ran from 1968 to 1973. She also made many other television appearances.

Upon the news of her death, many celebrities paid tribute to the Hollywood actress:

Sarah Jessica Parker wrote, “Oh Ms. Day, A Cincinnati girl just like me. How many letters I drafted to you and didn’t send I could never get it right but they all said the same thing, I love you. Millions did and do.”

Goldie Hawn tweeted, “The Great Doris Day left us and took a piece of the sun with her. She brightened our lives and lived out her life with dignity.”

William Shatner tweeted, “Condolences to the family of Doris Day. She was the World’s Sweetheart and beloved by all.”

And the Academy tweeted, “Today, we remember Doris Day, who brought us so much joy with her humor, extraordinary talent and kind heart. Farewell to a Hollywood legend.”

Doris Day is survived by her grandson, Ryan.

Comments

comments