Doris Day was one of the most popular stars of the 20th century, enjoying a career that spanned several decades. But the success she found as a star was nothing compared to the experience she had in her personal life.
In the early days of modern-day Hollywood, it was difficult for a moment to pass without hearing about Doris Day, who was one of the brightest actresses, singers, and activists of her day.
The late actress was born Doris Mary Ann Kappelhoff in 1924, and she inherited her musical abilities from her father, a choir leader, and a music instructor.
Doris Day, US actress and singer, wearing a light blue, short-sleeved woollen blouse, with two dragonfly brooches, circa 1955| Photo: Getty Images
Day performed with the very best and earned their respect. The 1950s and '60s were some of the most lucrative years of her more than five decades career. She was most known for her '60's show "The Doris Day Show," which aired from 1968 to 1973.
Day's solo career took off in 1947 after she became known for performing with several big bands in the industry. She later went into the movie industry, featured in films like "Calamity Jane" and "The Pajama Game."
Music was not always her first love, even though she excelled in it. She planned to become a dancer and teamed up with Jerry Doherty in the mid-'30s to form a dance team.
Doris Day signing her name in cement on Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, on January 19, 1961 | Photo: Getty Images
After initial signs of success, Day had a terrible car accident that halted her dreams of becoming a professional dancer as her legs were badly injured. This tragic turn of events crushed Day at the time, but it inspired her to get a vocal coach and become a singer.
The decision paid off two years later, when she joined Carlin's Carnival radio show as a vocalist, attracting the attention of the popular Barney Rapp, who helped establish her career.
Day was an advocate for animal welfare for most of her life and founded several organizations devoted to the cause. Career-wise, it is safe to say the late actress had a happy life, but that would be far from the truth.
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
Day lived a wild and passionate life away from the screen, filled with ups and downs. Her marital choices were often questionable, especially marrying her first husband, who her mom did not approve of.
AL JORDEN WAS WEIRD
Day was not only talented but was also equally a beauty to behold. Her glowing face could be compared to stars like Marilyn Monroe, who was also one of the leading names during Day's era.
Like Monroe, Day has married several times, and all her effort to find love proved worthless. Day met her first husband, trombonist Al Jorden, seven years her senior, during her days with Barney's band.
Portrait of Doris Day for the Paramount Pictures film "The Man Who Knew Too Much," circa 1956 | Photo: Getty Images
When they met, Day, who was 16, thought Jorden was a creep, and her mother was not a fan of his, so marriage was not in the picture until 1941 when she felt she was ready to start a family.
Life with Jorden was more than a nightmare. He was said to have become a monster-like figure after learning Day was pregnant and became physically abusive when she refused an abortion.
The musician was severely insecure and jealous of his talented wife and once beat her after kissing a band member on the cheek. In another instance, he became paranoid that she appeared on a magazine cover wearing a swimsuit.
Portrait of Doris Day in the late 1960s | Photo: Getty Images
Jorden did all he could to induce an abortion, but Day still welcomed their son, Terry Paul, in 1942. She later divorced Jorden, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia a year later.
She tried to get her life back to normal after her first marriage ended, and luckily enough, her career went in the right direction. Her collaboration with Les Brown for the hit 1945 song "Sentimental Journey" turned her career around.
Her career as an actress also began following a successful role in "Romance On The High Seas." At this time, Day felt it was time to find love again, so she married saxophonist George Weidler.
Doris Day playing with a dog, circa 1950 | Photo: Getty Images
Her second union lasted only three years, but it left the actress with a bitter experience. Before their marriage, both stars were widely considered scandalous after being caught sharing a hotel room.
WEDDED TO A MONSTER
Weidler was a different sort of monster from Jorden. He was not physically abusive, but he wished she did not have a child. He resented being Paul's step-father and was known for his philandering ways. Their marriage ended in 1949 as he could no longer handle her star power.
At 29, Day went for a marriage which she hoped would be her final one. She married Marty Melcher, but unfortunately, he failed to treat her right, and their union ended with his death.
Doris Day in a promotional headshot portrait for the film, "It's A Great Feeling" in 1949 | Photo: Getty Images
From the outside, it appeared that Day and her husband had finally found happiness. The couple moved to Los Angeles with her son Paul, who was seven years old and had taken Marty's surname.
However, day's fantasies of marital normalcy were dashed when Melcher assumed the role of her agent, pushing her into more and more big-budget films while secretly siphoning money from her bank accounts.
Overloaded by the troubles in her life, Day's mental health deteriorated at this point, and she began to have anxiety spells on set, even believing she was having a heart attack while filming "Calamity Jane."
Portrait of Doris Day circa 1965 | Photo: Getty Images
Things finally came to an end after she discovered that her husband had been abusing her son for years. Although they lived together, this proved to kill whatever love they had left until his death in 1968.
After this marriage, Day realized Melcher's illegal dealings had left her with nothing. Her final marriage was with restaurant manager Barry Comden in 1976. She described him as the best of them all, but a few years down the line, the couple divorced after claiming to have fallen apart.
Day retreated to a less active life in the industry in her later years, although she was constantly awarded for her contribution to Hollywood. She died at 97 in 2019, leaving behind a huge legacy and a heart filled with love and pain.
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