Birth Date: April 3, 1924 / Age: 89
Birth Place: Evanston, Ohio
Biography: Doris Day (born April 3, 1924) is an American singer, actress, and animal welfare advocate. A vivacious blonde with a wholesome image, she was one of the most prolific actresses of the 1950s and 1960s.
Day was born Doris Mary Ann von Kappelhoff in Evanston, Ohio. The second of two children, she was named "Doris" after silent movie actress Doris Kenyon, whom her mother liked. Her family was Catholic, despite her parents' divorce. She later embraced Christian Science.
Day started out as a dancer, winning a contract that enabled her to travel to Hollywood with her partner, Jerry Doherty, in 1936, but turned to singing when she injured her leg in an auto accident in 1937. She sang with the big bands of Barney Rapp, Bob Crosby, and Les Brown, before setting out on her own in the late 1940s. It was Barney Rapp who convinced her that "Kappelhoff" was too awkward a name and suggested "Day" after the song "Day after Day" that was part of her repertoire. She never really liked the name Doris Day, thinking it sounded too much like a stripper; this was ironic, since she eventually became associated with a nearly opposite image of wholesomeness and innocence.
With Brown, she charted 12 popular music hits, among them her first two # 1's: "Sentimental Journey" and "My Dreams Are Getting Better All the Time". "Sentimental Journey" earned her a flood of letters from World War II GIs. She admitted coming to hate singing "Journey", but never tired of reading the letters. On her own, she had more # 1's, including "Secret Love".
Day acted in many films, in most of which she sang. In Alfred Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much, she sang "Que Será, Será", which won an Oscar. "Que Será, Será" (Spanish for "What Will Be, Will Be") became her signature song, and was covered by Sly & the Family Stone in 1973. Day began her film career in 1948 as a peppy, Betty Huttonesque persona. She continued to make saccharine and somewhat low-level musicals such as Starlift, By the Light of the Silvery Moon, and Tea for Two for Warner Brothers until the cycle exhausted itself. In 1955, she received some of the best notices of her career for her portrayal of singer Ruth Etting in Love Me or Leave Me, co-starring James Cagney. She continued to be paired with some of Hollywood's biggest male stars, including James Stewart, Cary Grant, David Niven, and Clark Gable.
In 1959 Day entered her most successful phase as a film actress with the hugely popular Pillow Talk co-starring Rock Hudson, who became a lifelong friend. The film received positive reviews and was a box office favourite. It also brought a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Actress for Day. She and Hudson made two more films together. Many of her 1960s films ignored her singing abilities and painted her as a good-hearted woman with a strong will, a hint of naďveté, and the purest virtue this side of a nun. Times as well as attitudes changed, but Day's films did not. Critics, comics and pundits attacked Day as "the world's oldest virgin" and audiences began to shy away from her repetitive, gimmicky roles. Day herself found many of her mid-late 1960s films to be of very poor quality and did them only at the insistence of her third husband, Marty Melcher. One of the roles he turned down for her was Mrs. Robinson in The Graduate (a role that went to Anne Bancroft).
Upon Melcher's death she learned that he had committed her to a TV series. From 1968 to 1973, she therefore starred in her own situation comedy, The Doris Day Show. Its theme song was "Que Será, Será". Day continued with the show only as long as she needed the work to help pay down her debts.
In 1985 Day hosted her own talk show, Doris Day's Best Friends. The show generated unexpected press when her old friend Rock Hudson appeared in the first episode. Day was taken aback by Hudson's emaciated and wizened frame, as he had always been in top physical condition. Soon after, she and the world learned that he was dying of AIDS. Day stood by his side.
In 1987, she founded the Doris Day Animal League, and she currently devotes much of her time towards the cause of helping animals.
She wrote a best-selling autobiography, Doris Day: My Own Story.
In 2004 she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom but refused to attend the ceremony because of a fear of flying. In November 2004 her son Terry died from complications of melanoma.