Published: Wed, May 15, 2019
Culture | By Margie Dunn

Hollywood icon Doris Day dies aged 97

Hollywood icon Doris Day dies aged 97

The Calamity Jane actress died early on Monday at her home in Carmel Valley, California, surrounded by close friends, the Doris Day Animal Foundation confirmed.

The news comes following a statement released online by The Doris Day Animal Foundation, announcing that the star had been 'in excellent physical health for her age, until recently contracting a serious case of pneumonia'. Day was also an advocate for animal welfare and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2004 for her entertainment and humanitarian work.

Day is widely considered one of the top box-office stars in Hollywood history - even though she had been out of the limelight for decades.

"Her 39 films - many still incredibly popular and shown frequently today - stand as a testament to her talent". She lived in Monterey, California, devoting much of her time to the Doris Day Animal Foundation, and battling sensational reports that she'd become a broke recluse and a "bag lady". Day's manager made it clear stating that the late actor mentioned this in her will.

Day herself was no Doris Day, by choice and by hard luck. She also had a memorable onscreen partnership with Rock Hudson, starting with 1959's beloved romantic comedy Pillow Talk and continuing through two more features.

Born Mary Ann Von Kappelhoff in April 1922, Doris Day originally wanted to be a dancer but had to abandon her dream after breaking her right leg in a vehicle accident.

In the 1930s, attracted to music and dance, she formed part of a dance duo - but that ended after a horrific accident in which her leg was crushed when a vehicle she was riding in was hit by a train. Listening to the radio while recuperating, she began singing along with Ella Fitzgerald to try to learn the subtleties of her voice. That and Que Sera Sera were her biggest singing hits. "She would no doubt remind us, upon this day of her passing, 'Que sera sera, ' but we will miss her dearly anyway".

Paul McCartney, who visited her home in California, described her as a true star and "very amusing lady" with a heart of gold.

In spite of her command of the box office, Day's "Suzy Creamcheese" persona became rapidly dated as the films of the '60s took a turn toward gritty realism and graphic sexuality - she missed her chance to be Mrs. Robinson in "The Graduate" (1967), turning her nose up at the film's "vulgar" script - and Day's film career ground to a halt with 1968's "With Six You Get Eggroll". "The Doris Day Show" was a moderate success in its 1968-1973 run on CBS.

It really helped her deal with all the ups and downs of her career and life, and how she remained optimistic.

In the 1970s, Day joined the organization Actors and Others for Animals, often going door-to-door to rescue pets. "You know, it's not coming back again and enjoy each day", she said.

Doris fell in love with dance at an early age, and by her teenage years had formed a duo with Jerry Doherty - but her career plans soon changed following a vehicle accident in 1937.

The actress's sunny personality belied a tumultuous personal life. Her only child, son Terry, was born in 1942, and the couple divorced the following year.

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