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Doris Day 'Felt Married' to James Garner Although He Cracked Two of Her Ribs

Gracious Egedegbe
Apr 04, 2022
09:30 P.M.
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Doris Day never enjoyed a successful marriage, but she had a great relationship with James Garner that left many talking. Take a look at Day's thoughts on Garner, even after he cracked two of her ribs.

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American Actress and Singer Doris Day enjoyed a stellar career in her lifetime that spanned decades. The icon, who would have been 100 years old on April 3, 2021, was one of Hollywood's biggest stars in the early 1960s. 

An epitome of femininity and beauty, Day made the top box office draw in Hollywood from 1960 to 1964. Overall, the star had a great professional life, but the same could not be said of her private life, especially her love life.

Pictures of actress Doris Day with James Garner | Source: Getty Images

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In the entirety of her lifetime, Day was married four times, and none of them were successful. She was also romantically involved with a few of her co-stars. Here are more details about the actress's life and her relationship with legend James Garner.

DORIS DAY'S FOUR BROKEN MARRIAGES, ROMANCES, AND FINANCIAL WOES

Portrait photo of American actress Doris Day in a fur-trimmed coat, circa 1963 | Source: Getty Images

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Many ladies wish to enjoy a happy and long-lasting marriage, and for Day, it was no different. From her childhood, the actress had always dreamed of being the perfect wife with the perfect husband. 

As a child, she had witnessed her father's infidelity in his marriage and decided to live differently. Her first marriage was to Trombonist Al Jorden in 1941. Day was only 19 and had fallen in love with him two years prior. 

Portrait of American actress Doris Day, circa 1965 | Source: Getty Images

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Sadly, the union was anything but blissful, as the actress went through a series of physical abuse from her husband. Even when Day was pregnant with their first child, Terry, Jorden punched the actress in the stomach, hoping that she would lose the baby.

Thankfully, Day did not, and by the time Terry was born, she had left the marriage. She took care of her son alone for a while before abandoning him with her mother, Alma, and hitting the road with her music band. 

So, Terry was raised by his grandmother and never knew what the word "mother" meant. "My grandmother was my total parent," Terry once explained.

Portrait photo of American actress Doris Day, circa 1960 | Source: Getty Images

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Three years after she married Jorden, Day tied the knot for the second time with Saxophonist George Wielder. Unlike her first marriage, the union was free of abuse. However, it lasted only eight months. For Day, more was needed to make the marriage work. She told Wielder:

"We had a strong physical attraction for each other but I didn't realize that it takes much more than that to make a marriage work."

Day also revealed: "If we had taken time to get acquainted instead of falling into each other's arms, our marriage might have been successful."

Photo of American actress and singer Doris Day sits cross-legged and barefoot in a rattan chair, circa 1955 | Source: Getty Images

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Following the split, the singer was romantically involved with a few co-stars like Bob Hope. Also, in the book "Doris Day: The Untold Story Of The Girl Next-door," the author, David Kaufman, revealed that Day fell in love with movie stars like Jack Carson and Steve Cochran.

Sadly, Cochran was a womanizer, and Day was not the only woman interested in the actor. Legendary star Joan Crawford also believed Cochran was hers.

Studio Portrait Doris Day in publicity portrait for the film 'It's A Great Feeling', circa 1949 | Source: Getty Images

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Speaking of the love triangle between the trio and Crawford's thoughts, David Bret, the author of "Doris Day: Reluctant Star," revealed:

"She would always hate Doris for stealing her man."

After Day's romance with Cochran ended, she became romantically involved with Ronald Reagan. "The two would sneak off to his apartment high in the Hollywood Hills and make love while marveling at the panoramic view below," Bret noted.

Portrait of Doris Day circa 1945 | Source: Getty Images

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The pair's relationship was so great that Day revealed that it left her with the fondest memories. In her memoir, "Doris Day: Her Own Story," the actress explained:

"Ronnie had recently been divorced from Jane Wyman. He danced well, and he had a pleasant personality, so I invariably enjoyed going out with Ronnie."

Whether or not it was true remains unknown. With two failed marriages and some dating rumors, Day decided to focus on her acting career. She eventually got her big break by appearing in the 1948 comedy musical "It's Magic." 

Doris Day signing her name in cement on Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, on January 19, 1961 | Source: Getty Images

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Three years after the musical aired, Day walked down the aisle for the third time with Movie Producer Marty Melchel. The man was greedy and pushy and would always demand a cut from Day's earnings from her future movies.

In addition, he consistently pressured the actress into turning down roles and making films she had no interest in making. The union was a total disaster, as the ex-couple would frequently exchange words at work. 

American actress Doris Day with husband Marty Melcher at the film premiere of 'A Star Is Born' featuring Judy Garland October 13, 1954. | Source: Getty Images

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Also, Melcher was deep into Christian Science, a faith against people getting medical help when sick and solely depending on prayer. Once, Day hemorrhaged due to an intestinal tumor, and Melcher refused her from seeing a doctor for weeks. 

The actress eventually did, and after receiving treatment, she left Melcher. In 1968, the producer passed away, and after his death, Day discovered that her late husband tricked her out of her £15 million fortune and left her with a debt of £350,000. 

It was one of the most traumatizing moments in Day's life. "All I ever wanted… a baby, husband who really loved me, a home, all the happiness that they could bring. I never got that, and that's all I really wanted," the actress admitted.

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American actor and singer Doris Day dancing with her third husband, agent Marty Melcher, at a party circa 1955 | Source: Getty Images

Eventually, Day would be charged with fraudulently trying to evade income tax, an allegation that went out the window after the actress proved she knew nothing of her late husband's actions. In the end, she won £17 million in damages from Melcher's attorney.

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Eight years after her ex-husband's death, Day got married for the fourth time to Restaurateur Barry Comden. Due to her past experiences, the actress decided to keep the marriage away from the spotlight. 

Doris Day and husband Barry Comden at the Pierre Hotel on February 01, 1976 | Source: Getty Images

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However, it did not stop the union from ending six years later. Speaking of the divorce, Comden said, "She kicked me out of bed to make room for her animals."

Indeed, Day decided to focus more on her animals. She opened an animal hospital and converted her massive home to a home for cats and dogs, feeding them gourmet food and tucking them into specially made beds. 

DORIS DAY'S RELATIONSHIP WITH JAMES GARNER 

Doris Day and James Garner embracing in a scene from the 1963 film 'The Thrill Of It All.' | Source: Getty Images

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Day established many friendships in her career, but the bond between her and co-star James Garber left many talking. The movie icons starred together in "Move Over Darling," a film inspired by Alfred Lord Tennyson's famous poem Enoch Arden.

In the movie, Day acted as Ellen, while Garner played her husband, Nick. In one of the scenes, Ellen returns after being presumed dead to discover it is Nick's wedding day to Bianca. 

Portrait of American movie and television star, singer, and a friend to all the animals Doris Day as she wears a flower brooch, circa 1966 | Source: Getty Images

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Ellen cunningly finds her way into Bianca's room to give her a massage, and Nick barges in and pulls her off. A few days after shooting the scene, Garner found that he had pulled Day too hard, injuring her. Despite the injury, the actress still considered Garner a great actor. In her words:

"We had fun. He's a marvelous actor. He's very real when he talks to you. He's so funny and so nice, I just love him. Even though he broke two of my ribs. Jim, if we don't speak for a while, I forgive you for breaking my ribs. Both of them. Don't give it another thought."

Day further threw more light on their deep connection, noting that she felt married to the actor. "Jim and I worked together only twice, in "Move over, Darling," and "The Thrill of It All. "He's so good at what he does… I felt married," the icon revealed.

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Actress Doris Day having lunch in Hollywood, California on February 25,1970 | Source: Getty Images

"We didn't see each other much over the following years, but we've stayed friends because we talk on the phone regularly. I don't know how, because Jim hates the telephone. I usually call him. 'Can't you pick up a phone?' I say, but he just grumbles," Day continued.

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The actress was not the only one with nice things to say about the relationship, as Garner also spoke well of Day, her acting skills, and their friendship. He once confessed:

"Doris didn't play sexy, she didn't act sexy, she was sexy. And Doris was a joy to work with. Everything she did seemed effortless. She's so sweet and so professional - she made everyone around her look good."

Actress Doris Day poses for a photo in 1959 in Los Angeles, California | Source: Getty Images

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"I don't think she could have had the success she's had if she didn't have this sexy whirlpool frothing around underneath her All-American-girl exterior," he added.

Furthermore, Garner spoke about the love scenes he had played and noted that by far, Day and Julie Andrews were the sexiest women he had been intimate with on screen. The actor relayed:

"Playing a love scene with either of them is duck soup because they communicate something sexy which means I also let myself go somewhat and that really makes a love scene work."

Doris Day rehearses with her husband George Weidler smoking a pipe on the piano in 1952 | Source: Getty Images

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Despite their closeness, Day and Garner's relationship remained platonic. The latter was married for 58 years to Lois Clarke before his demise in 2014. 

DORIS DIDN'T HAVE A FUNERAL, MEMORIAL, OR MARKER AFTER HER DEATH 

Portrait of Doris Day circa 1965 in Los Angeles | Source: Getty Images

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Day passed away in May 2019 at 97, after a severe case of pneumonia. Following her death, the actress's manager Bob Bashara revealed that Day asked for no funeral, no memorial, and no grave marker. Bashara also opened up about Day's view on death. In the manager's words:

"She didn't like death and she couldn't be with her animals if they had to be put down. She had difficulty accepting death. I'd say we need to provide for her dogs [after she died], and she'd say 'I don't want to think about it,' and she said 'Well, you just take care of them.'"

Bashara continued: "She had several when her will was written, and she wanted to be sure they were taken care of. She didn't like to talk about the dogs dying."

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Portrait of Doris Day circa 1960 | Source: Getty Images

Apart from Day's thoughts on death and her love for dogs, Bashara also spoke about the actress's religious beliefs. He noted:

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"She believed in God, and she thought her voice was God-given. She would say, 'God gave me a voice, and I just used it."

Bashara said he was unsure why Day wished to have no funeral, but he thought it was because she was shy.

Publicity photo of Doris Day circa November 1957 | Source: Wikimedia Commons

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"I think it was because she was a very shy person. She never let her celebrity affect her and who she was, and she was also the little girl from Cincinnati who was extraordinarily talented and went out in the world and did what she loved to do despite herself," he added.

Whatever the reasons were for Day's wishes, everyone respected them. She will always be missed and celebrated for her massive impact on the entertainment industry.

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