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Doris Day (1922–2019), legendary actress and singer

Doris Day (1922–2019), legendary actress and singer

by Linnea Crowther

She was a symbol of innocence and wholesomeness as she starred in popular movies of the 1950s and ’60s.

Actress and singer Doris Day became a symbol of innocence and wholesomeness as she starred in movies of the 1950s and ’60s. Among her popular films were “Please Don’t Eat the Daisies” and “The Pajama Game,” and she became well known for the Oscar-winning song “Que Sera, Sera.”

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Died: May 13, 2019 (Who else died on May 13?)

Details of death: Died at home in Carmel Valley, California of pneumonia at the age of 97.

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Day got her start in show business as a big band singer, working with bandleaders including Bob Crosby and Les Brown. It was with Brown that she notched her first hit, 1945’s “Sentimental Journey.” She continued to score hits including “My Dreams Are Getting Better All the Time,” “Till the End of Time” and “I Got the Sun in the Mornin’,” and she reached wide audiences with her U.S. tours and her appearances on Bob Hope’s radio program.

It was songwriter Sammy Cahn who urged Day to take a chance at a film career, and she won her first movie role replacing Betty Hutton, who was pregnant, in “Romance on the High Seas.” Day was a hit as she acted and sang Cahn’s Oscar-nominated song, “It’s Magic,” and more movies followed, including “The Man Who Knew Too Much,” which yielded the Oscar-winning song “Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be),” “Pillow Talk,” “That Touch of Mink” and many more. Television stardom on “The Doris Day Show” followed her movie career.

Day was also an activist for animal welfare, founding the Doris Day Animal Foundation, which funds other nonprofits working to help animals, and the Doris Day Animal League, a lobbying organization that later became a part of the Humane Society of the United States.

Day was married four times and had one son, musician and record producer Terry Melcher, who died in 2004.

See our video gallery tribute to the legendary Doris Day.

Notable quote: “I enjoyed working and always tried to do the best job I could with every role. I’m thrilled to know that people are still watching my films and are uplifted by them.” —Day in a 2019 interview with the Hollywood Reporter

What people said about her: “For those of us in my generation, Doris Day was synonymous with Hollywood icon. 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.” —Actor George Takei

“Oh Ms. Day, A Cincinnati girl just like me. How many letters I drafted to you and didn’t send. “I could never get it right but they all said the same thing, I love you. Millions did and do. Godspeed.” —Sarah Jessica Parker on Twitter

“She was a true star in more ways than one. “I had the privilege of hanging out with her on a few occasions. Visiting her in her Californian home was like going to an animal sanctuary where her many dogs were taken care of in splendid style. She had a heart of gold and was a very funny lady who I shared many laughs with. Her films like Calamity Jane, Move Over, Darling and many others were all incredible and her acting and singing always hit the mark. I will miss her but will always remember her twinkling smile and infectious laugh as well as the many great songs and movies she gave us. God bless Doris.” —Paul McCartney

“Doris Day is one of the greats and America will always love its sweetheart.” —Former President George W. Bush

“My first film was Doris Day’s last one. She had grace, class and was a beautiful human. I wish my 19 year-old self knew enough to talk with her about her love of animals, which i share more and more as time goes on.” —Barbara Hershey on Twitter

“I loved DORIS DAY. Never met her – so often dreamed about it – especially when I discovered her work in her animal sanctuary. But never did. Sadly ? Yes, but in a way I’m glad I never bothered her. But I always held Doris in my heart as the perfect singer – all warmth, always smiling, yet smouldering beneath. That voice !!! Tender and soft and inviting, yet ready burst into joyous overdrive as she poured her heart into the big moments…” —Queen guitarist Brian May on Instagram

“Susan and I are saddened to hear of Doris Day’s passing. She was a wonderful friend to us and a lovely and very talented lady.” “We will miss her beautiful smile and it was such a thrill to appear on The Doris Day Show back in 1970.” —Tony Bennett on Twitter

“No matter how old you are, it’s the music and movies of your youth that forever stir you. Kudos to Doris Day for the smiles she gave, the happiness she inspired and a life well lived. May her spirit soar.” —Author and presidential candidate Marianne Williamson

Full obituary: Los Angeles Times

Related lives:

  • Rock Hudson (1925–1985), Day’s costar in “Pillow Talk”
  • James Garner (1928–2014), Day’s costar in “Move Over, Darling”
  • Jimmy Stewart (1908–1987), Day’s costar in “The Man Who Knew Too Much”


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