If you're a fan of classic Hollywood films, it's pretty safe bet that you're a fan of Doris Day. Day was one of the top box office attractions of the 1950s and 60s starring in such hits as Pillow Talk, The Man Who Knew Too Much, and Move Over, Darling. Day passed away this morning at her home at the age of 97 following a brief fight with pneumonia.
Born Doris Mary Kappelhoff on April 3, 1922, Day's goal as a child was to be a dancer but a serious car accident when she was very young cut those dreams short. Instead, she turned to singing. She performed with some of the most popular bands of the 1940s and recorded several hits.
Singing success then led to screen opportunities and Day was cast in her first film, 1948's Romance on the High Seas. While she never stopped singing, releasing an album as recently as 2012, it would be her film work for which she would become best known.
Doris Day would come to be known as the "girl next door" or the "Virginal Queen." Most of her most popular film roles were romantic comedies, and while sex was always in the subtext, Day's characters always remained pure.
Doris Day starred in three such films opposite Rock Hudson, including Pillow Talk for which she would be nominated for her one Academy Award. She also starred opposite James Garner in Move Over, Darling, a 1963 comedy in which Day performed a role that had been intended for Marilyn Monroe, who died during the film's initial production under the title Something's Got To Give.
While Doris Day may have been best known for comedies, she made her share of serious drams as well and showed no less of an aptitude for them. 1951's Storm Warning dealt with the violence of the Klu Klux Klan. In 1956 she would star opposite Jimmy Stewart in Alfred Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much.
Day made her last film in 1968 and transitioned to television, where she starred in The Doris Day Show, which ran until 1973. Following her retirement from the screen, Doris Day became somewhat reclusive, dedicating her time to her passion for animals, founding the Doris Day Animal Foundation, in the 1970s. The Foundation announced her death this morning.
Doris Day outlived her only child, record producer Terry Melcher, who died of melanoma in 2004 at the age of 62.
Doris Day was the definition of a Hollywood legend. Her career spanned decades and she was always at the top of her profession. Her best performances have truly stood the test of time. Check out a great scene from Pillow Talk below.
Doris Day will truly be missed by those who knew her, even if many of us only knew her through her music and her movies.