Doris Day, one of Hollywood’s biggest icons, has died. The singer and actresses, who captured the hearts of moviegoers in classic films like ‘Pillow Talk,’ and ‘The Man Who Knew Too Much,’ has passed away.
Hollywood lost one of its titans on May 13: Doris Day, the legendary singer, actress, and activist, passed away at age 97. The death of the entertainment icon – who began her career in 1939 as a big bang singer before transitioning over to films and television – was confirmed by her foundation, according to the Associated Press. “Doris Day, whose wholesome screen presence stood for a time of innocence in ’60s films, has died,” her foundation told AP in an emailed statement. “Day had been in excellent physical health for her age, until recently contracting a serious case of pneumonia, resulting in her death.” The foundation said she passed early Monday in her Carmel Valley, California, home and was surrounded by close friends.
Doris (born Doris von Kappelhoff) began her entertainment career not in front of the camera but behind a microphone, as the Cincinnati, Ohio native first sang on local radio programs with big bands. She changed her name Day after the song, “Day After Day,” and found success in 1944 with her first number one hits, “Sentimental Journey” and “My Dreams Are Getting Better All The Time.” Her agent, Al Levy, encouraged her to audition for Romance on the High Seas in 1948, and that launched a 20-year-career that included 39 films. Doris’s singing talents landed her roles in several musicals, including 1950’s Tea for Two and Calamity Jane in 1953. Doris’s performance from the film, “Secret Love,” was a number one hit and earned the film the Academy Award for Best Song.
Doris worked hard for more dramatic roles, as she landed a role in Love Me or Leave Me in 1955. The film was a box office hit, and she followed it up with a role in Alfred Hitchcock’s remake of The Man Who Knew Too Much, in which she sang her signature song, “Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be).” Though her last film was in 1968, she continued to act in The Doris Day Show sit-com in 1968, while making appearances throughout the 1970s and 80s.
She was married four times: first, to trombonist Al Jorden in 1941. She had her only child with him, a son named Terry. After divorcing Al in 1943, she married George Weidler, a saxophonist, in 1946. Their marriage fell apart in 1949, and Doris would later wed Martin Melcher. They were together until his death in 1968. Her final marriage was to Barry Comden, from 1976 to 1981.
After stepping away from acting, Doris dedicated her life to the welfare of animals. She founded the Doris Day Pet Foundation in 1978. In 2004, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush in recognition of her service to her country and the needs of others.
Our hearts go out to Doris Day’s loved ones during their time of loss.