is an American actress and singer, and an animal rights activist since her retirement from show business. Her entertainment career began in the 1940s as a big band singer. In 1945 she had her first hit recording, "Sentimental Journey". In 1948, she appeared in her first film, Romance on the High Seas. During her entertainment career, she appeared in 39 films, recorded more than 650 songs, received an Academy Award nomination, won a Golden Globe and a Grammy Award, and, in 1989, received the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement in motion pictures.
As of 2009, Day was the top-ranking female box office star of all time and ranked sixth among the top ten box office performers (male and female).
Early lifeDoris Day was born in the Cincinnati neighborhood of Evanston to Alma Sophia Welz (a housewife) and William Kappelhoff (a music teacher and choir master). All of her grandparents were German immigrants.Although the 1930 census lists her at age 7, she has stated to her biographer in Doris Day: Her Own Story and on her official website that she was born in 1924. Specifically she states, "[I was] named by my mother in honor of her favorite actress, Doris Kenyon, a silent screen star of that year 1924." Pianist Jim Martinez, who organized her 87th birthday party in her hometown of Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, at Day's hotel, the Cypress Inn, states that according to Doris Day's current assistant, when Day was a teenager, she added two years to her age so she would be old enough to sing with big bands. The youngest of three children, she had two brothers: Richard, who died before she was born, and Paul, a few years older.
Her parents' marriage failed owing to her father's reported infidelity. Although the family was Roman Catholic, her parents divorced. After her second marriage, Day herself would become a Christian Scientist. She has been married four times. Day developed an early interest in dance, and in the mid-1930s formed a dance duo with Jerry Doherty that performed locally in Cincinnati. A car accident on October 13, 1937, damaged her legs and curtailed her prospects as a professional dancer. While recovering, Day took singing lessons, and at 17 she began performing locally
It was while working for local bandleader Barney Rapp in 1939 or 1940 that she adopted the stage name "Day" as an alternative to "Kappelhoff," at his suggestion. Rapp felt her surname was too long for marquees. The first song she had performed for him was "Day After Day", and her stage name was taken from that.After working with Rapp, Day worked with a number of other bandleaders including Jimmy James, Bob Crosby, and Les Brown. It was while working with Brown that Day scored her first hit recording, "Sentimental Journey", which was released in early 1945. It soon became an anthem of the desire of World War II demobilizing troops to return home. This song is still associated with Day, and was rerecorded by her on several occasions, as well as being included in her 1971 television special.
Film careerBob Hope, Day toured extensively across the United States. Her popularity as a radio performer and vocalist, which included a second hit record "My Dreams Are Getting Better All the Time", led directly to a career in films. Already in 1941 Day appeared as a singer with the Les Brown band in a soundie (a Cinemasters production). After her separation from her second husband, George Weidler, in 1948, Day reportedly intended to leave Los Angeles and return to her mother's home in Cincinnati. Her agent Al Levy convinced her to attend a party at the home of composer Jule Styne. Her performance of the song "Embraceable You" impressed Styne and his partner, Sammy Cahn and they recommended her for a role in Romance on the High Seas, which they were working on for Warner Brothers. The withdrawal of Betty Hutton due to pregnancy left the main role to be re-cast, and Day got the part. The film provided her with another hit recording "It's Magic."
In 1950 U.S. servicemen in Korea voted her their favorite star. She continued to make minor and frequently nostalgic period musicals such as Starlift, The West Point Story, On Moonlight Bay, By the Light of the Silvery Moon, and Tea For Two for Warner Brothers. In 1953 Day appeared as Calamity Jane, winning the Academy Award for Best Original Song for "Secret Love" (her recording of which became her fourth U.S. No. 1 recording).
After filming Young at Heart (1954) with Frank Sinatra, Day chose not to renew her contract with Warner Brothers. She elected to work under the advice and management of her third husband, Marty Melcher, whom she married in Burbank on April 3, 1951. Day had divorced saxophonist-songwriter George W. Weidler (born September 11, 1917 - died July 26, 1995) on May 31, 1949 in Los Angeles in an uncontested divorce action after marrying him on March 30, 1946 in Mount Vernon, New York, separating in April 1947 and filing for divorce in June 1948.
Ruth Etting in Love Me or Leave Me. Day would later call it, in her autobiography, her best film. She was also paired with such top stars as Jack Lemmon, James Stewart, Cary Grant, David Niven, and Clark Gable.
In Alfred Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), Day sang "Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)" which won an Academy Award for Best Original Song and became her signature song. According to Jay Livingston, who wrote the song with Ray Evans, Day preferred another song used briefly in the film, "We'll Love Again" and skipped the recording for "Que Sera, Sera". At the studio's insistence she relented. After recording the number, she reportedly told a friend of Livingston, "That's the last time you'll ever hear that song". However, the song was used again in Please Don't Eat the Daisies (1960), and was reprised as a brief duet with Arthur Godfrey in The Glass Bottom Boat (1966). "Que Sera, Sera" also became the theme song for her CBS television show (1968–73). The Man Who Knew Too Much was her only film for Hitchcock and, as she admitted in her 1975 autobiography, she was initially concerned at his lack of direction. She finally asked if anything was wrong and Hitchcock said everything was fine — if she weren't doing what he wanted, he would have said something.
She had one more Top Ten hit with "Everybody Loves a Lover" in 1958.
Box office successIn 1959, Day entered her most successful phase as a film actress with a series of romantic comedies, starting with Pillow Talk, co-starring Rock Hudson, who became a lifelong friend. Day received a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Actress. Day and Hudson made two more films together, Lover Come Back (1961) and Send Me No Flowers (1964). Day also teamed up with James Garner, starting with 1963's The Thrill of It All, followed later that year by Move Over, Darling. Move Over, Darling had originally been entitled Something's Got to Give, a 1962 comeback vehicle for Marilyn Monroe and featuring Dean Martin. The film was suspended following the firing of Monroe and her subsequent death. A year later, it was renamed and recast with Day as the lead character.
By the late 1960s, the sexual revolution of the baby boomer generation had refocused public attitudes about sex. Times changed, but Day's films did not. Critics and comics dubbed Day "the world's oldest virgin",and audiences began to shy away from her films. As a result, she slipped from the list of top box office stars, last appearing in the Top 10 in 1967 with The Glass Bottom Boat, her final hit film.
One of the roles she turned down was that of the iconic Mrs. Robinson in The Graduate, a role that eventually went to Anne Bancroft. In her published memoirs, Day said that she had rejected the part on moral grounds. Her final feature film, With Six You Get Eggroll, was released in 1968.
Recording successDay's last major hit single came in the UK in 1964 with "Move Over, Darling", co-written by her son specifically for her. The recording was a notable departure for Day, with its distinctly contemporary-sounding arrangement. In 1967, Day recorded her last album, The Love Album, essentially concluding her recording career, though this album was not released until 1994.
Bankruptcy and television career
1960sWhen third husband Marty Melcher died April 20, 1968, Day was shocked to discover that her husband of 17 years and his business partner Jerome Bernard Rosenthal had squandered her earnings, leaving her deeply in debt. Rosenthal had been her attorney since the late 1940s, and he represented her on May 31, 1949, in her uncontested divorce action against her second husband, songwriter George W. Weidler. In February 1969, Day filed suit against Rosenthal and won the then-largest civil judgment (over $20 million) until that time in the state of California.
1970sOn September 18, 1974, Day was awarded $22,835,646 for fraud and malpractice in an hour-long oral decision by Superior Judge Lester E. Olson, ending a 99-day trial that involved 18 consolidated lawsuits and countersuits filed by Day and Rosenthal that involved Rosenthal's handling of her finances after she terminated him in July 1968. The civil trial included 14,451 pages of transcript from 67 witnesses. Represented by attorney Robert Winslow and the law firm of Mitchell, Silberberg & Knupp LLP, Day was awarded $1 million punitive damages, $5.6 million plus $2 million interest for losses incurred in a sham oil venture; $3.4 million plus $1.2 million interest over a hotel venture; $2.2 million plus $793,800 interest for duplicate or unnecessary fees paid to Rosenthal; more than $2 million to recoup loans to Rosenthal; $3.9 million plus $1 million interest for fraud, and $850,000 attorney fees for Day. Olson also enjoined Rosenthal from prosecuting any more lawsuits against Day or her business operations. (Rosenthal had filed more than 20 suits from 1969 to 1974). Olson, an expert in complex financial marital settlements, read every page of 3,275 individual exhibits and 68 boxes of miscellaneous financial records.
In October 1979, Rosenthal's liability insurer settled with Day for about $6 million payable in 23 annual installments. Rosenthal continued to file an appeal in the 2nd District Court of Appeal, and also filed another half-dozen suits related to the case. Two were libel suits, one against Day and her publishers over comments she made about Rosenthal in her book in which he sought damages. The other suits sought court determinations that insurance companies and individual lawyers failed to defend Rosenthal properly before Olson and in appellate stages. In April 1979, he filed a suit to set aside the $6 million settlement with Day and recover damages from everybody involved in agreeing to the payment supposedly without his permission.
1980sIn October 1985, the state Supreme Court rejected Rosenthal's appeal of the multimillion-dollar judgment against him for legal malpractice, and upheld conclusions of a trial court and a Court of Appeal that Rosenthal acted improperly. In April 1986, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review the lower court's judgment. In June 1987, Rosenthal filed a $30 million lawsuit against lawyers he claimed cheated him out of millions of dollars in real estate investments. He also named Day as a co-defendant, describing her as an "unwilling, involuntary plaintiff whose consent cannot be obtained". Rosenthal claimed that millions of dollars Day lost were in real estate sold after Melcher died in 1968, in which Rosenthal asserted that the attorneys gave Day bad advice, telling her to sell, at a loss, three hotels, in Palo Alto, Dallas and Atlanta and some oil leases in Kentucky and Ohio. Rosenthal claimed he had made the investments under a long-term plan, and did not intend to sell them until they appreciated in value. Two of the hotels sold in 1970 for about $7 million, and their estimated worth in 1986 was $50 million. In July 1984, after a hearing panel of the State Bar Court, after 80 days of testimony and consideration of documentary evidence, the panel accused Rosenthal of 13 separate acts of misconduct and urged his disbarment in a 34-page unsigned opinion. The panel's findings were upheld by the State Bar Court's review department, which asked the justices to order Rosenthal's disbarment. He continued representing clients in federal courts until the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against him on March 21, 1988. Disbarment by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals followed on August 19, 1988.
The Supreme Court of California, in affirming the disbarment, held that Rosenthal engaged in transactions involving undisclosed conflicts of interest, took positions adverse to his former clients, overstated expenses, double-billed for legal fees, failed to return client files, failed to provide access to records, failed to give adequate legal advice, failed to provide clients with an opportunity to obtain independent counsel, filed fraudulent claims, gave false testimony, engaged in conduct designed to harass his clients, delayed court proceedings, obstructed justice and abused legal process. Terry Melcher stated that it was only Martin Melcher's premature death that saved Day from financial ruin. It remains unresolved whether Martin Melcher was himself duped. Day stated publicly that she believed her husband innocent of any deliberate wrongdoing, stating that he "simply trusted the wrong person". According to Day's autobiography, as told to A. E. Hotchner, the usually athletic and healthy Martin Melcher had an enlarged heart. Most of the interviews on the subject given to Hotchner (and included in Day's autobiography) paint an unflattering portrait of Melcher. Author David Kaufman asserts that one of Day's costars, actor Louis Jourdan, maintained that Day herself disliked her husband, but Day's public statements regarding Melcher appear to contradict that assertion.
The Doris Day ShowUpon her husband's death on April 20, 1968, Day learned that he had committed her to a television series, which became The Doris Day Show.
"It was awful", Day told OK! Magazine in 1996. "I was really, really not very well when Marty [Melcher] passed away, and the thought of going into TV was overpowering. But he'd signed me up for a series. And then my son Terry [Melcher] took me walking in Beverly Hills and explained that it wasn't nearly the end of it. I had also been signed up for a bunch of TV specials, all without anyone ever asking me."Day hated the idea of doing television, but felt obligated. "There was a contract. I didn't know about it. I never wanted to do TV, but I gave it 100 percent anyway. That's the only way I know how to do it." The first episode of The Doris Day Show aired on September 24, 1968, and, from 1968 to 1973, employed "Que Sera, Sera" as its theme song. Day grudgingly persevered (she needed the work to help pay off her debts), but only after CBS ceded creative control to her and her son.
The show was successful, enjoyed a five-year run, and functioned as a curtain-raiser for The Carol Burnett Show. The show is remembered today for its abrupt season-to-season changes in casting and premise. It was not as widely syndicated as many of its contemporaries were, and has been little seen outside the United States and the United Kingdom. By the end of its run in 1973, public tastes had changed and her firmly established persona was regarded as passé. She largely retired from acting after The Doris Day Show, but did complete two television specials, The Doris Mary Anne Kappelhoff Special (1971) and Doris Day to Day (1975). She appeared in a John Denver TV special in 1974.
1990s and renewal of interestA Greatest Hits CD released in 1994 became another entry into the British charts, while the song "Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps" was included in the soundtrack of the Australian film Strictly Ballroom.
2000sIn 2006, Day recorded a commentary for the DVD release of the fifth (and final) season of her TV show. Recently Day has participated in telephone interviews with a radio station that celebrates her birthday with an annual Doris Day music marathon. In July 2008 she appeared on the Southern California radio show of longtime friend, newscaster George Putnam, reported in the Los Angeles Times.
While Day turned down a tribute offer from the American Film Institute, she received and accepted the Golden Globe's Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement in 1989. In 2004, Day was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom but declined to attend the ceremony because of her fear of flying. Day did not accept an invitation to be a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors for the same reason.
Both columnist Liz Smith and film critic Rex Reed have mounted vigorous campaigns to gather support for an honorary Academy Award for Day to herald her film career and her status as the top female box-office star of all time. Day was honored in absentia with a Grammy for Lifetime Achievement in Music in February 2008.
Personal lifeIn 1975, Day released her autobiography, Doris Day: Her Own Story, an "as-told-to" work with A. E. Hotchner. The book detailed her first three marriages:
- To Al Jorden, a trombonist whom she first met when he was in Barney Rapp's Band, from March 1941 to 1943. Her only child, son Terry Melcher, was born from this marriage. Jorden, who was reportedly physically abusive to Day, committed suicide in 1967 by a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
- To George Weidler (a saxophonist), from March 30, 1946 to May 31, 1949. Weidler, the brother of actress Virginia Weidler, and Day met again several years later. During a brief reconciliation, he helped her become involved in Christian Science.
- To Martin Melcher, whom she married on April 3, 1951. This marriage lasted far longer than her first two. Melcher adopted Terry (thus renaming the boy Terry Melcher), and produced many of Day's movies. After her autobiography was published, Day married one last time.
- Her fourth and last marriage was to Barry Comden, who was roughly a decade younger, from April 14, 1976 until 1981. Comden was her first husband from outside of show business. Comden was the maitre d' at one of Day's favorite restaurants. Knowing of her great love of dogs, Comden endeared himself to Day by giving her a bag of meat scraps and bones on her way out of the restaurant. When this marriage unraveled, Comden complained that Day cared more for her "animal friends" than she did for him. Comden died on May 25, 2009, aged 74.
In May 1983, she became a grandmother. In 1985 she briefly hosted her own talk show, Doris Day's Best Friends on CBN. Despite the worldwide publicity her show received, it was canceled after 26 episodes. Terry Melcher first made a brief attempt to become a surf music singing star, then became a staff producer for Columbia Records in the 1960s, and was famous for producing some latter-day recordings by The Beach Boys and The Byrds. In November 2004, he died from complications of melanoma, aged 62.
Day is a committed Republican.
FilmographyDoris Day appeared in feature films from 1948 through 1968. She also appeared in several short subjects about herself or other artists. In 1941 Day appeared as a singer with the Les Brown band in a co-called soundie (a Cinemasters production).
|1948||Romance on the High Seas||Georgia Garrett||Her feature film debut. Co-starring Jack Carson.|
|1949||My Dream Is Yours||Martha Gibson||Co-starring Jack Carson.|
|It's a Great Feeling||Judy Adams||Co-starring Jack Carson.|
|1950||Young Man with a Horn||Jo Jordan||Her first dramatic role. Co-starring Kirk Douglas and Lauren Bacall.|
|Tea for Two||Nanette Carter||Co-starring Gordon MacRae. |
Adaptation of Broadway musical No, No, Nanette
|The West Point Story||Jan Wilson||Co-starring James Cagney|
|1951||Storm Warning||Lucy Rice||Co-starring Ronald Reagan, Ginger Rogers and Steve Cochran|
|Lullaby of Broadway||Melinda Howard||Co-starring Gene Nelson|
|On Moonlight Bay||Marjorie 'Marjie' |
|Co-starring Gordon MacRae |
Based on the Penrod stories by Booth Tarkington.
|I'll See You in My Dreams||Grace LeBoy Kahn||Co-starring Danny Thomas|
|Starlift||Herself||Her name appeared first in the on-screen credits.|
|1952||The Winning Team||Aimee Alexander||Co-starring Ronald Reagan|
|April in Paris||Ethel 'Dynamite' |
|Co-starring Ray Bolger|
|1953||By the Light of the |
|Marjorie 'Marjie' |
|Co-starring Gordon MacRae |
A sequel to On Moonlight Bay.
|Calamity Jane||Calamity Jane||Co-starring Howard Keel |
Introduced Academy Award-winning song Secret Love
|1954||Lucky Me||Candy Williams||Co-starring Robert Cummings and Phil Silvers|
|Young at Heart||Laurie Tuttle||Co-starring Frank Sinatra|
|1955||Love Me or Leave Me||Ruth Etting||Co-starring James Cagney|
|1956||The Man Who |
Knew Too Much
|Josephine 'Jo' |
|Co-starring James Stewart. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. |
Introduced Academy Award-winning song Que Sera, Sera
|Julie||Julie Benton||Thriller co-starring Louis Jordan|
|1957||The Pajama Game||Katherine 'Babe' |
|Co-starring John Raitt. Adaptation of Broadway musical|
|1958||Teacher’s Pet||Erica Stone||Co-starring Clark Gable|
|The Tunnel of Love||Isolde Poole||Co-starring Richard Widmark |
Golden Globe Award-nominated for
Best Motion Picture Actress - Comedy/Musical
|1959||It Happened to Jane||Jane Osgood||Co-starring Jack Lemmon and Ernie Kovacs|
|Pillow Talk||Jan Morrow||Her first film with Rock Hudson. |
Academy Award-nominated for Best Actress.
Golden Globe Award-nominated for Best Motion Picture Actress - Musical/Comedy.
|1960||Please Don’t Eat |
|Kate Robinson |
|Co-starring David Niven|
|Midnight Lace||Kit Preston||Thriller co-starring Rex Harrison |
Golden Globe Award-nominated for Best Motion Picture Actress - Drama
|1961||Lover Come Back||Carol Templeton||Her second film with Rock Hudson.|
|1962||That Touch of Mink||Cathy Timberlake||Co-starring Cary Grant|
|Billy Rose’s Jumbo||Kitty Wonder||Adaptation of Broadway musical |
Golden Globe Award-nominated for Best Motion Picture Actress - Musical/Comedy
|1963||The Thrill of It All||Beverly Boyer||Co-starring James Garner|
|Move Over, Darling||Ellen Wagstaff Arden||Co-starring James Garner. Remake of My Favorite Wife (1940). |
Initiated as Marilyn Monroe's unfinished film Something's Got to Give.
Golden Globe Award-nominated for Best Motion Picture Actress - Musical/Comedy
|1964||Send Me No Flowers||Judy Kimball||Her third and last film with Rock Hudson.|
|1965||Do Not Disturb||Janet Harper||Co-starring Rod Taylor|
|1966||The Glass Bottom Boat||Jennifer Nelson||Co-starring Rod Taylor|
|1967||The Ballad of Josie||Josie Minick||Co-starring Peter Graves and George Kennedy|
|Caprice||Patricia Foster||Co-starring Richard Harris|
|1968||Where Were You When |
the Lights Went Out?
|With Six You Get Eggroll||Abby McClure||Co-starring Brian Keith; her last film.|
- Screen Snapshots: Hollywood Night Life (1952)
- So You Want a Television Set (1953) - brief cameo as herself with Gordon MacRae in a promotion for By the Light of the Silvery Moon (1953)
- Every Girl's Dream (1966)