Doris Day biography

Actress and singer, born Doris Mary Ann von Kappelhoff on April 3, 1924, in Cincinnati, Ohio. A brother, Richard, died before she was born. Another older brother, Paul, died in 1958.
Day was famous for her blond, fresh-faced, freckled, girl-next-door looks, which landed her numerous “good girl” roles in musicals and comedies in the 1950s and 1960s. Her parents divorced when she was a child, and Doris was raised by her mother. As a teenager, Day suffered injuries in an automobile accident and was hospitalized for a year, derailing an intended career as a ballet dancer. She turned to singing, and fronted the Bob Crosby and Les Brown bands in the 1940s.

Day appeared with Frank Sinatra on the Saturday Night Hit Parade in the late 1940s, and he and bandleader Artie Shaw encouraged Day to try acting as a career. In 1948 she got her start by substituting as a last minute replacement for Betty Hutton in Romance in the High Seas, the first of a series of films she did for Warner Bros. She starred in a rambunctious Calamity Jane (1953); and in Young at Heart (1954). In 1956, Day co-starred with Jimmy Stewart in Alfred Hitchcock’s remake of The Man Who Knew Too Much, which included one of her trademark songs, “Que, Sera, Sera.”

In 1957 she appeared with John Raitt in The Pajama Game, one of the better stage-to-screen adaptations of a Broadway musical. Songs from the film included “Steam Heat,” “Hernando’s Hideaway” and “Hey, There.” In the late 1950s and early 1960s, she was teamed with the leading men of the day, Cary Grant and Rock Hudson, in a series of popular bedroom farce comedies, including Pillow Talk (1959; for which she was nominated for an Academy Award), Lover Come Back (1962) and That Touch of Mink (1962). Other highlights of the 1960s included Please Don’t Eat the Daisies (1960), Billy Rose’s Jumbo (1962), Send Me No Flowers (1964) and The Glass Bottom Boat (1966). Her last film was With Six You Get Eggroll (1968).

In 1968 she embarked on a TV career, starring in The Doris Day Show, which ran until 1973. In 1976 she co-wrote her autobiography with A. E. Hotchner, entitled Doris Day: My Own Story. Day returned to TV in 1985-86 to star in a cable show, Doris Day and Friends.

Day’s sunny film persona belied a life behind the scenes that was filled with stress and unhappiness. Her first two marriages failed. The first marriage was at age 17 in 1941 to a volatile musician, Al Jorden, which lasted two years and produced a son, Terry, born in 1942. In 1946 she married and divorced George Weidler. Her 1951 marriage to third husband, Marty Melcher, appeared to be tranquil on the surface, but after he died in 1968, she discovered that, as her agent, he had mismanaged her finances as well as her career, leaving her bankrupt and without any prospects of work.

In 1974 she was awarded $22.8 million in a suit against her former lawyer and manger, Jerome B. Rosenthal, for malpractice in handling her affairs. She eventually settled for $6 million. Her fourth marriage, to Barry Comden, lasted from 1976 to 1981.

An activist in animal rights, Day currently runs the Doris Day Animal Foundation in Carmel, California, which advocates the proper care of pets.