One of Hollywood’s last Golden Age stars has passed away.
Doris Day, who became one of the biggest female stars of all time, has died at age
97. The star’s Doris Day Animal Foundation confirmed Doris had died on Monday
(May 13) at her home in California. She had reportedly “been in excellent physical
health for her age, until recently contracting a serious case of pneumonia,” the
foundation said in a statement.
Bob Bashara, Doris’s business manager and close friend, told People the star “developed a cough and it turned into bronchitis and she was briefly
hospitalized.” But Doris’s condition continued to decline, he said, and when
she died on Monday, she was “surrounded by a few loved ones” and “some very
Doris was launched straight into stardom at age 17 when she
began her career as a big band singer with
Les Brown & His Band of Renown
in 1939. She had her first hit recording, “Sentimental Journey,” with the group,
in 1944. The track went on to become popular with American troops returning
home from World War II. She went on to have six other top 10 hits on the
chart from 1945 to 1946, including “My Dreams are Getting Better All the Time.”
She left the band a few years later to go solo, and went on to cut more than
650 songs over a 20-year period from 1947 to 1967.
Doris starred in Pillow Talk with Rock Hudson in 1959. Photo: © Silver Screen Collection / Getty Images
Her film career began in 1948 when she starred in
the High Seas
alongside Canadian-born Jack Carson. She went on to land the
starring role in 1953’s
Calamity Jane, and had other key career parts in The
Man Who Knew Too Much
(1956), Pillow Talk (1959) and Move Over, Darling (1963).
Those films saw her starring alongside Hollywood hunks such as
James Stewart, Rock Hudson and James Garner. Younger readers will also know Doris for her role
The Doris Day Show, which ran from 1968 to 1973. Doris recorded its beloved
theme song, “Que Sera, Sera.”
Doris was a decorated performer throughout her life, and
received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Grammys in 2008. She was also
nominated for a Best Actress Oscar in 1959 for her role in
Pillow Talk, and was given a Lifetime Achievement Golden Globe Award in 1989.
Doris receiving her Lifetime Achievement Award Golden Globe in 1989. Photo: © Kevin Winter/Getty Images
The woman with the golden voice married four times and knew lots of love in her life. Her
first marriage was to trombonist
Al Jorden, who she knew from her big band days.
They were together from 1941 to 1943, and had a son,
Terrence Paul Jorden, who later
was known as
Terry Melcher and who went on to become a record producer. George
William Weidler, a saxophonist and brother of actress Virginia Weidler, was her
second marriage. The two were together from 1946 to 1949. In 1951, she married
for a third time, getting hitched to
Martin Melcher. The two remained married until
Martin’s death in 1968. Doris’s final marriage was to hotel maitre d’
In addition to her extensive showbiz career, Doris was known
for her animal welfare activism, which grew out of an awful incident in which
her dog was killed by a passing car when she was a teenager. Doris, who was a vegetarian,
went on to demonstrate against the wearing of fur with other celebrities like
Mary Tyler Moore, and founded the Doris Day Animal Foundation in 1978. In 1995, she
began the annual Spay Day USA, in which she encourages pet owners to spay and
neuter their animals.
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