October 27, 2021
Doris Day died on May 13, 2019, at 97-years-old. The animal welfare activist, actress, singer, and dancer became famous with songs like "Que Sera Sera" and films like "The Man Who Knew Too Much."
She was 'America's sweetheart' in the '50s and '60s, coveted by everyone, elegant and naturally charming. Doris Day was an icon with a heart of gold; however, her life wasn't as cheerful as her personality.
Day's private life was quite tumultuous. The tension was partly due to her four marriages and abandoning her dreams of being a professional dancer at a young age.
Doris Day on the set of "Young Man with a Horn" in 1949 | Photo: Getty Images
ABOUT DORIS DAY
Born Doris Mary Ann Von Kappelhoff, she later made Doris Day her stage name. Her mother was a housewife, while her father was a music teacher and choir director.
On October 13, 1937, a tragedy struck when the teenager was involved in a car accident that injured her legs. The accident left her bedridden for months.
The accident ultimately ruined her chances of following her passion of being a ballet and a tap dancer. In addition to her broken dreams, she also had to face the death of her older brother and, later, her parents' separation.
Doris Day prepares to speak at a press conference at the dog friendly hotel she owns in Carme on July 16, 1985 | Photo: Getty Images
Consequently, Day had to shift her focus to singing and acting. She began in the 1940s as a singer, and then, after the Second World War, she landed on the big screen.
She took roles in films that belonged to very different universes and transformed herself into a thousand women, one more fascinating than the other. That was when she earned the name "American Sweetheart."
On the big screen, she debuted in 1947 after being signed by Warner Bros. Her first film released the following year was the musical comedy directed by Michael Curtiz titled "Romance on the High Seas."
Portrait of Doris Day for the Paramount Pictures film "The Man Who Knew Too Much," circa 1956 | Photo: Getty Images
Day had risen to prominence with the song "Sentimental Journey" between the Second World War and the Korean War in 1951. The tune became a soundtrack for the soldiers returning to their families.
The American star worked until the mid-sixties, taking part in the television series "The Doris Day Show." However, at the age of 46, she retired from the scene to devote herself to family and animal welfare.
With 39 films and over 75 hours of television programs to her credit, in addition to the recording of more than 650 songs, Day was considered one of the last great Hollywood stars.
Doris Day playing with a dog, circa 1950 | Photo: Getty Images
When she was 16, she started singing with Barney Rapp and his band, and this was when she met Al Jorden. Jorden was one of the trombonists in the band and was seven years older than her.
He usually gave her a lift, and one day, he asked her out to dinner. He seemed glamorous, and they went out night after night. However, she noticed that he became jealous whenever she talked to other men.
Unfortunately, her inkling did not forewarn her of what was to come. She initially thought Jorden's jealousy was flattering. They got married in 1941 after dating for one year. That was when things took a different turn.
Doris Day in a promotional headshot portrait for the film, "It's A Great Feeling" in 1949 | Photo: Getty Images
On the second day of their marriage, Jorden's band manager gave Day a wedding present, and he went into a jealous fit. When they got home, he beat her up while calling her ugly names.
Minutes later, he was apologizing, and she thought the outburst would be the last. However, Jorden got worse with time. Day wanted to leave her abusive husband but got pregnant two months later.
She assumed her pregnancy would make him less jealous, but he instead wanted an abortion, declaring they were too young to have kids. She was appalled by his suggestion and refused to have an abortion.
Headshot image of Doris Day in 1953 | Photo: Getty Images
As a result, Jorden gave Day some pills to take while making her put her legs in scalding water. Thankfully, nothing happened, and this was when she started making a plan to leave as soon as the baby was born.
He tried so many times to get rid of the baby. He once pointed a pistol at her stomach while threatening to shoot her and the baby. By the time she was eight months pregnant, things had become worse.
Jorden once came back home in a blind rage, pulled Day out of bed, dragged her around the room, and began knocking her against the wall. She feared she would miscarry then, but she didn't.
Headshot image of Doris Day in 1963 | Photo: Getty Images
In February 1942, she delivered a boy named Terrence "Terry" Paul Jorden and found the courage to move out with her child. Her son became the only child she had.
After she left Jorden, she filed for divorce, and their marriage was over in 1943. He was believed to be schizophrenic and committed suicide in 1967. Day reportedly did not shed tears upon learning of Jorden's death.
Her second husband, George Weidler, was a saxophonist whom she met after she joined another band. She liked his gentleness and thought they had a love that would last forever.
Doris Day and her son, Terry, in a fire truck in Cincinnati in 1953 | Photo: Getty Images
They married on March 30, 1946, even though she felt it was another mistake while going to the ceremony. Sure enough, when her career started to take off, he could not handle it.
He told her that she would be a huge star while he would remain the sideman in a band. Despite her reassurances, he felt she was going to outgrow him. Their marriage was over on May 31, 1949.
Day gave love a chance for a third time when she met Martin Melcher, an American motion picture and music executive. He was married to Day on April 3, 1951, shortly after his divorce from Patty Andrews on March 30, 1950.
Photo of Doris Day in a rattan chair in 1955 | Photo: Getty Images
He eventually adopted her son, and they built businesses together. Furthermore, their marriage lasted until Melcher died in 1968. With his death, she realized she was bankrupt as Melcher had made terrible investments.
After four years, she fell in love again and married for the fourth and last time to a fellow Actor, Barry Comden. They were married from April 14, 1976, to 1981.
In 1981, she was inducted into the Ohio Women's Hall of Fame, received the Cecil B. DeMille Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1989, and the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008.
Doris Day poses with an array of multi-colored poodles in 1952 | Photo: Getty Images
In 2004, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush and lost her son before the year was over after a long battle with melanoma.
In 2011 her 29th album "My Heart" was released, and she made it into the UK Top 10. The same year she received the Los Angeles Film Critics Association's Career Achievement Award.
Before her death, she had dedicated her life to animal rights at her estate in Carmel, California. She founded the Doris Day Animal Foundation, and they announced her passing.
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