NPR: Actress And Singer Doris Day, Hollywood’s Girl Next Door, Dies At 97

Doris Day remains one of the most successful female movie stars of all time. Here she poses as her character, an ad agency executive, in 1961's Lover Come Back

May 13, 2019 9:36 AM ET
SONARI GLINTON

Day plays chorus girl Ethel “Dynamite” Jackson in 1952’s April in Paris
Day attends a reception at Claridge’s Hotel in London in 1955.
Day starred opposite Rock Hudson in several films, including 1959’s Pillow Talk, 1964’s Send Me No Flowers and 1961’s Lover Come Back
Day starred in 1953’s Calamity Jane, which explores the Wild West heroine’s alleged romance with frontiersman Wild Bill Hickok.
Day arrives with husband Marty Melcher for the 1960 Academy Awards ceremony. She was nominated in the best actress category that year for her role in Pillow Talk
Actors Fran Ryan (left) and Denver Pyle appear with Day on
Day poses with her son, producer and songwriter Terry Melcher, in the early 1970s. Melcher also served as the executive producer of The Doris Day Show
Day was awarded the Cecil B. DeMille Award, for outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment, at the 1989 Golden Globe Awards in Los Angeles.

Actress and singer Doris Day made nearly three dozen films and more than 600 recordings. At the height of her career, she topped both the billboard and the box office charts. Day died of pneumonia on Monday at the age of 97.

Day remains one of the most successful female movie stars of all time. She embodied the “girl next door” even in her 40s, which is probably why her films with Rock Hudson were so successful. A scene from 1959’s Pillow Talk shows a split screen with Day and Hudson in their separate bathtubs, only it looks like they’re in the same one — with their feet touching. Kind of risqué for 1959.

That was Day at the height of her film success, but her career began as a big band “girl singer,” and with Les Brown’s big band she had one of the biggest hits of World War II: “A Sentimental Journey.” For many GIs, Doris Day represented the kind of girl you’d want to fight for and come home to.

The end of the war brought the end of the big band era and the beginning of Day’s film career. Alfred Hitchcock used Day’s voice as a plot device in The Man Who Knew Too Much, in which a distraught Day sings a distress signal, “Que Sera, Sera,” to her kidnapped son. It became her signature tune and went to the No. 2 spot on the charts.

Will Friedwald wrote a book on jazz singing. He said Day’s success with pop and novelty songs overshadowed a simple fact: She was a phenomenal singer, both technically and artistically.

“She really is sort of the mother of all tuneful, sunny blondes,” he said, “but at the same time there’s definitely a dark side to her. You know, she can explore that kind of emotion very effectively in song.”

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Actress And Singer Doris Day, Hollywood's Girl Next Door, Dies At 97
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Actress And Singer Doris Day, Hollywood's Girl Next Door, Dies At 97
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Actress and singer Doris Day made nearly three dozen films and more than 600 recordings. At the height of her career, she topped both the billboard and the box office charts. Day died of pneumonia on Monday at the age of 97.