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Doris Day Considered Husband's Jealousy 'Flattering' Until Fleeing 8-Months Pregnant & Birthing Without Him

Gaone Pule
Apr 09, 2022
11:00 A.M.
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At 16, Doris Day started singing in His Band of Renown. Her first spouse, one of the bandmates, Al Jorden, seemed tall and attractive but was, in fact, one of the glummest people she had ever met. He was older, 23 years of age.


Doris Day was a former teen star who began her singing career at age sixteen in a band. She sang six nights a week with jazz musician Barney Rapp and his band at his club in Cincinnati. 

Therein, she met one of the trombonists in the band named Al Jorden. Jorden gave her a lift to the club whenever she needed to perform.

Doris Day pictured wearing a green coat paired with a white dress, and a brown side bag in 1945. / Source: Getty Images


Speaking on what her heart desired the most, Day revealed the only ambition she ever had was to be a housewife in a good marriage instead of a public figure. 

Meanwhile, she entertained Jorden and described him as a tall man who was attractive initially but later realized that he was the most gloomy individual. Jorden was 23 years old and asked her out for dinner.

Hollywood actress Doris Day beams, wearing a white outfit paired pearl earrings and a blue scarf in 1955. / Source: Getty Images


From thereon, the pair started seeing each other every other night. Day realized one other side about Jorden during their nights out and revealed

"He became angry if I even spoke to another man, but I thought his jealousy was flattering."   


Doris Day pictured smiling, wearing a green coat paired with a white dress, and a brown side bag in 1945. / Source: Getty Images


Instead of paying attention to the red flag, she continued seeing him. Shortly after her seventeenth birthday, Day informed the band founder and jazz musician, Les Brown, that she was exiting the group.  

That was because Jorden had called and asked for her hand in marriage. The "Sentimental Journey" singer was beyond elated be to a soon-to-be bride: 

"It was the happiest time that I could ever have." 

But Brown expressed his disapproval, telling Day that her career, which started in 1939, had just begun. Still, the rising star was positive that she was head over heels in love. 


Television and movie star Doris Day wearing a coat pinned with a flower brooch in 1966. / Source: Getty Images

Day eventually left the band for her future husband. However, even her friends, including Jorden's mother, forewarned her that it would be a mistake to marry him. Jorden's mom told the actress that her son was not the marrying type.  


But their opinions fell on deaf ears because she went ahead and married him in 1941. As they both played for the same band, they tied the knot between shows at City Hall. Since their engagement entailed a lengthy period in New York, the newlyweds leased an apartment in a run-down building, the Whitby, where they enjoyed their honeymoon.  


Doris Day during a press conference at the dog friendly hotel on July 16, 1985 in Carmel, California. / Source: Getty Images


Day once revealed that she regretted marrying Jorden on the second day of marriage when he showed his dark side. His band manager had gifted her a wedding present – a leather make-up case - which made him jealous.  

The minute they arrived home, Jorden became enraged and hit her. He continued beating his newly-wedded wife as she tried to protect herself, knocking her into the furniture. Jorden even called Day awful names. She explained

"I was hysterical and fell to the floor." 

Doris Day photographed while on the phone on May 10,1970 in Hollywood, California. / Source: Getty Images


A few minutes later, Jorden suddenly started sobbing and asked for forgiveness. He told her that he loved her and admitted he was wrong: 

"I should not have hit you. I can't stand the thought of anyone else looking at you." 

Day desperately wanted to believe it was a once-off incident, but little did she know it would become an endless vicious cycle. Jorden said he could not help himself.    


Animal welfare activist Doris Day photographed in a fur-trimmed coat in 1963. / Source: Getty Images


Amidst all the chaos in their marriage, Day realized that staying in the union was dangerous for her. The "Pillow Talk" star wanted to end it with Jorden until she found out that she was pregnant two months after getting married. 

Day believed that her pregnancy would be a saving grace for her marriage and would make her husband less of a green-eyed monster, but it made things between them even worse.  

One day he came home with a name of an abortionist, telling his wife that they were way too young to become parents. Day expressed that she was appalled and said to him that she would not have an abortion. 

Doris Day pictured showing a serious facial expression, wearing an off-white cardigan paired with a yellow sweater and a black and white hat. / Source: Getty Images


"We really can't have a baby. All we have to do is bring on your period, and everything will be all right," Jorden said to his pregnant spouse. Day was disgusted by that statement and offered no resistance.  

Determined to get rid of the baby, Jorden told Day to put her feet in scalding water and swallow pills he bought for her. The Hollywood starlet shared that she became sick but that the ill-treatment failed.  

After the incident, she desired to get through to the pregnancy, for her to leave soon after the birth. "I don't know how I got through those nine months," recalled Day. 

Doris Day captured sitting in a chair with her shoes off in 1959 in Los Angeles. / Source: Getty Images


One time they were driving on a winding mountain road at 110mph, and he screamed that he would kill them both. In another event, he thrust a pistol against Day's stomach and told her that he would shoot her and her unborn baby. 

When Day was eight months pregnant, Jorden came home and threw another tantrum. Angry as he was, the Ohio native pulled the activist out of bed, dragged her around the room, and knocked her against the wall.  

Day explained that her body got severely bruised and that one of her eyes was cut. She was sure that she was going to lose the baby. 



Doris Day discussing her biography during a New York press conference. / Source: Getty Images

Once while still pregnant, the couple visited Jorden's parents. He went into another raging episode while at their house. Jorden beat Day until his parents demanded that he stop.  


Day's mother-in-law confronted her, and she revealed that she had been suffering abuse at the hands of her husband since they wed. But his mom did not believe her. 

The "Calamity Jane" star pushed her mother-in-law out of the room and locked the door. Day fled to her mother, Alma's,  house the following day.  

Doris Day wearing a jumper, posing with her hands clasped together against a light blue background in 1955. / Source: Getty Images


She told her all about the beatings and while her mom begged her to leave Jorden, Day instead made a pact that she would return to Cincinnati after the child was born. She hoped for reconciliation after welcoming her child.  

While Jorden played in Buffalo, Alma traveled to New York to be with her daughter, who was close to her due date. Alma tried to contact her son-in-law to tell him that his wife was in labor, but she could not reach him. Day finally gave birth to a healthy baby boy, whom she named Terry.  

When her spouse eventually returned from his gig, Alma discovered a note from a woman who thanked Jorden for a great time together while expressing worry over a possible pregnancy. Rather than telling her daughter, Alma kept the letter to herself, fearing that it would upset her.   



Doris Day pictured with her one and only child, son Terry Melcher who was a record producer. / Source: Getty Images

When Day recounted that time in her life, she explained that she did not act like she was panic-stricken but was indeed beside herself, saying


"I wasn't acting hysterical. I was hysterical." 

The birth of her son Terry, who died in November 2004, did not make things in her marriage any better. Jorden did not care about their child and did not even allow her to keep him in their bedroom.  

He continued with his behavior and again threatened to shoot her. While Day's mother found a home for her to live in Cinncinati, Jorden decided to return there with her.  

Doris Day with her pride and joy, her son singer-songwriter Terry Melcher. / Source: Getty Images


One final outburst from him prompted Day to lock her spouse out of the house and out of her life. Soon after, she finally filed for divorce in 1943. The couple had been living together for three years. 

Later, Day admitted that they did not take time to get to know each other. When she recalled their marriage in 1976 on "The Mike Douglas Show," she said

"Had we been together more, I wouldn't have married him." 

Doris Day pictured looking sad with her curled up blonde short hair in 1949. / Source: Getty Images


Later, the mother of one acknowledged that the only good thing that came out of her turbulent marriage was her precious son, Terry. "One beautiful thing came out of that marriage: my son. And if I hadn't married this bird, I wouldn't have my terrific son, Terry. So, something terrific comes from these awful experiences," said Day.  

Years after the divorce, she only saw Jorden once, in a public place where he was with another woman. In July 1967, Day read that her ex-husband had died in an apparent suicide in a newspaper. She, too, passed away in May 2019.

Legendary Hollywood starlet Doris Day spotted walking towards her car. / Source: Getty Images


Following her failed marriage with Jorden, Day married three times, and all of her marriages ended in divorce as well. Author David A. Kaufman told CBS in July 2008 that all she ever wanted was a blissful marriage: 

"The only thing she ever wanted was to have a happy marriage and a happy family life." 

Kaufman added that America's sweetheart never had that in any of her marriages, stating that despite saying yes to marrying four times, she was not happy with any of her spouses.   

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