Lifestyle & Human Interest

Legendary Actress Doris Day Dead at Age 97, Says Her Foundation


Fewer people enjoy name recognition and acclaim decade after decade. This is particularly true in Hollywood, which tends to churn through talented young actors and actresses.

But actress and singer Doris Day was an exception and a true luminary. She acted from the late ’40s through the early ’70s.

The Doris Day Animal Foundation has confirmed her death at the age of 97. According to the foundation, the actress passed away May 13 in her Carmel Valley, California, home.

The Foundation stated that “Day had been in excellent physical health for her age, until recently contracting a serious case of pneumonia, resulting in her death. … She was surrounded by a few close friends as she passed.”

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Day’s career started at a very young age. She launched into show business as a singer when she was merely 15 years old.

Vanity Fair explained that the choice owed as much to accident as anything else. Day had broken a leg in a terrible car accident, which caused her aspirations as a dancer to come to an abrupt halt.

She had a chart-topping hit with the 1945 song “Sentimental Journey” and continued to sell songs and albums for the next 20 years. Her real career in cinema, though, would start in 1948 with “Romance on the High Seas.”

According to the Los Angeles Times, she took to acting so well that the film’s director, Michael Curtiz, ordered her to stop taking acting lessons once he discovered that she was studying on the side. Indeed, her costars were amazed by her poise in front of the camera.

She “was an Actors Studio all by herself,” actor Rock Hudson said. “Her sense of timing, her instincts — I just kept my eyes open and copied her.”

Indeed, a role with Hudson would earn Day her one and only Oscar nomination for acting. She received a nod from the Academy for 1960’s “Pillow Talk,” but she didn’t win.

However, she did garner two Oscars for songs she sang in her films. They were “Secret Love” from 1953’s “Calamity Jane” and “Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be),” the defining tune from Alfred Hitchcock’s 1956 thriller “The Man Who Knew Too Much.”

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Upon news of her death, celebrities quickly gave their condolences. “For those of us in my generation, Doris Day was synonymous with Hollywood icon,” George Takei said on Twitter.

“She would no doubt remind us, upon this day of her passing, ‘Que sera sera,’ but we will miss her dearly anyway. Rest now in our hearts forever, Ms. Day.”

Piers Morgan added, “R.I.P Doris Day, 97. Fabulous life, fabulous star, fabulous woman.”

Antonio Banderas tweeted, “Thank you for your talent. R.I.P. #DorisDay.”

In her later years, Day disliked having to work on television, so she left the industry entirely in the ’70s to focus on animal-rights activism. She went on to start her foundation with a mission “to help animals and the people who love them.”

However, her unique cachet of innocence and attractiveness still remained in the public consciousness.

“Her persona hit a cultural mother lode, tapping into what the average postwar woman was about,” USC film professor Drew Casper said. “Every female wanted to be Doris Day, and every male wanted to marry somebody like her.”

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A graduate of Wheaton College with a degree in literature, Loren also adores language. He has served as assistant editor for Plugged In magazine and copy editor for Wildlife Photographic magazine.
A graduate of Wheaton College with a degree in literature, Loren also adores language. He has served as assistant editor for Plugged In magazine and copy editor for Wildlife Photographic magazine. Most days find him crafting copy for corporate and small-business clients, but he also occasionally indulges in creative writing. His short fiction has appeared in a number of anthologies and magazines. Loren currently lives in south Florida with his wife and three children.
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