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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Dreamiest... Doris Day


When we think of dreamy singers and actresses, we definitely think of Doris Day.  She can sing, she can dance, she can play funny or dramatic.  Doris Day did it all.

Doris Day never planned to be a singer or an actress.  It was a car accident in her adolescence that caused to give up her first ambition - to be a dancer.  Despite the accident, Doris later showed herself fully recovered when she danced in such films as April in Paris and By the Light of the Silvery Moon.  But before she came to the big screen, Ms. Day was a popular singer with many big bands,  most notably Les Brown and His Band of Renown.  Her's was the voice behind one of World War II's biggest hits, Sentimental Journey.



In her early films, she generally played an uber-peppy platinum blonde who was game for anything, anything but romance.  Known to her legions of fans as a "professional virgin", Doris later wondered how she got this moniker considering that in real life she had married four times, was a single mother and had been squired around Hollywood by many of the biggest male names in show business.  Behind that early Warner Brother's veneer of lacquered hair and pancake makeup, Doris Day was a natural beauty with a real zest for life and fun.  Supporting her mother and her young son, Ms. Day spent most of her free time at home where, as a teetotaller, she had her own soda fountain.


Doris Day and Rock Hudson in a publicity
still for Pillow Talk.


Later pictures proved to be better and presented the image of Doris Day that most of us have today.  In Please Don't Eat the Daisies, Pillow Talk, Lover Come Back, The Thrill of It All and Send Me No Flowers, Doris got to show her style and her fabulous comedic timing.  Paired with David Niven, Rock Hudson and James Garner, Doris played devoted but harried mothers turned models, single career girls (to use the vernacular of the time!) and knowing wives.  Aside from her performances, the style of these movies alone makes them firm Dapper and Dreamy favorites!  Whether it's Doris' apartments, houses or offices, this is mid-century glam at it's finest.  Not to mention the clothes - perhaps shown to best effect in That Touch of Mink with Cary Grant.  In this film, Doris is given her own private fashion show by Bergdorf Goodman, complete with several fabulous evening gowns, day suits and leisure wear, and of course the requisite mink coat with changeable silk overcoats in beige, emerald green and deep red.  In addition, the immaculate Cary Grant chose both his own and Day's wardrobes and decorated his office set with art from his own collection.




In addition to her wonderful films, only a few of which I've mentioned, there's the music.  There are many CD's out featuring selections of Doris Day's catalog, including several very comprehensive boxed sets.  To the delight of her fans, Doris is about to release never-before-heard recordings made in the 70's and produced by her late son.  Now, it's important to really listen to a Doris Day song...  For years I've heard people talk about singer's "phrasing" and their unique ways of interpreting a song.  Largely, I didn't know what these critics were talking about, until I really listened to some of my Day favorites - Sentimental Journey, The Christmas Waltz, Secret Love and many more.  She really does sing with absolute sincerity and simplicity.  Forget all of the crazy runs and flourishes of today's top artists, Doris Day (like many of her contemporaries) could sing...  Really sing.


If you are like us, you like to know what became of your favorite film stars of old.  In Doris' case, don't believe what you read.  Tabloids and even supposedly well-researched books paint her as a lonely and sad recluse at her Carmel Valley property.  In fact, if you've had the opportunity to listen to her annual radio appearances around her birthday each April, you'd know that she's hail and hearty and full of humor and appreciation for her many, many fans.

Her extensive compound features lovely gardens and, more importantly, plenty of space for her beloved rescue pets.  Not content to give just her name to a cause, Day has walked the walk of her Doris Day Animal Foundation's (now part of the Humane Society of America) commitment to better the lives of animals.  Presented with an honorary Grammy and the Presidential Medal of Freedom a few years ago, Day has still not been recognized with an Honorary Oscar, though few stars of her generation were as varied in their talents and contributions to entertainment.

The death of her son Terry Melcher, was a blow to Doris Day, but rather than retreat, she has continued her work for animals and has recorded several in depth interviews about her career and the great talents she worked with. She also tries to keep up with the enormous amounts of fan mail that she continues to receive, although she hasn't appeared in a movie since the late 1960s, and hasn't released a new recording in several decades.  In her radio interviews, an emotional Doris Day shows a genuine humility, wondering why so many people are still interested, but so glad they are.  She refers to her admirers not as "fans", but as friends.  As she has said herself, she's not a recluse, she's just someone who left the limelight behind for a private life, but one devoted to making the world a better place.

As far as we are concerned, Doris Day is the epitome of Dapper and Dreamy!

1 comment:

  1. I love Doris Day Movies! I like it when she gets drunk and has a bottle stuck on her toe...is that in A Touch of Mink?

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