Famous Hollywood actress Doris Day, known as one of the biggest stars of all time, has died at the age of 97. Her foundation, the Doris Day Animal Foundation, stated that she had died at her home in Carmel Valley, California.
The statement said that Day had been “in excellent physical health for her age, until recently contracting a serious case of pneumonia. She was surrounded by a few closed friends as she passed”
The late actress was well-known for her role in films such as the musical Calamity Jane and Pillow Talk. As well as acting, Day also had extraordinary talent as a singer, mostly with her 1956 hit “Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)”.
Her foundation said she had requested “no funeral or memorial service and no grave marker”.
Day celebrated her 97th birthday last month, and despite keeping her life private since retiring, gave a rare interview to The Hollywood Reporter.
“I get so many love letters from fans as young as eight years old, telling me they were introduced by my films and music by their great-grandmothers, and my movies make them happy” she said.
“Different films resonate with viewers for different reasons, but the common thread seems to be that my films are uplifting.”
Numerous celebrities have paid their tributes to Day, including Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane, who tweeted: “We’ve lost another great Hollywood talent”.
Star Trek actor William Shatner described her as the “world’s sweetheart and beloved by all,”
Fashion designer Stella McCartney said she was “the woman who inspired so much of what I do”.
Doris Day, who was born Doris Marianne von Kappelhoff, dreamt of becoming a dancer throughout her childhood. However, this dream was put on hold when she was 12 years old and had badly broken her leg, following a car crash.
This certainly wasn’t the end for her though, as in 1948, she made her first film debut in 1948 with Romance On The High Seas.
However, behind her fame and glamorous lifestyle, Day’s 1976 book narrated financial troubles and three broken marriages, presenting her in a different light.
“My public image is unshakeably that of America’s wholesome virgin, the girl next door, carefree and brimming with happiness, an image, I can assure you, more make-believe than any film part I ever played” her book reads.
She later added: “I have the unfortunate reputation of being Miss Goody Two-Shoes, America’s virgin, and all that, so I’m afraid it’s going to shock some people for me to say this, but I staunchly believe no two people should get married until they have lived together.”
The one, the only, the woman who inspired so much of what I do… Doris Day I love you, my calamity Jane. An iconic woman who I was hugely honoured to meet and share precious moments with. Rest in peace x pic.twitter.com/brkli7fKYE
— Stella McCartney (@StellaMcCartney) May 13, 2019
Day first married when she was just 17, but her and her husband Al Jorden split up when she said he had beaten her when she was eight months pregnant. She gave birth to her son Terry in 1942.
She later married George Wielder, but the marriage quickly failed after just three years together. She then married Martin Melcher in 1951 and remained together until Melcher’s death in 1968. It was this marriage that resulted in financial problems for her, as Melcher’s failed investments left her in debt. However, she eventually won a multi-million judgement against their lawyer for misusing their assets.
Day’s fourth husband was Barry Comden, but after breaking up in 1982, he accused her of caring more about her animals than him.
A few decades later, in 2004, Day’s only child Terry died. That same year, she received a presidential medal of freedom. George W Bush called it at the time “a good day for America when Doris Marianne von Kappelhoff, of Evaston, Ohio, decided to become an entertainer”.
In her later years, Doris Day dedicated a lot of her time to animal welfare and was well-known for trying to reunite lost pets with their owners. She also set up campaigns to encourage spaying and neutering of pets to help prevent the issue of homeless animals.
While she had mostly retired by the 1980s, she continued to be an entertainment icon in Hollywood, and her legacy is one that’ll never be forgotten. Rest in peace, Doris Day. Whatever will be, will be…
Story by Emily Clark
Featured Photo Credit: Hollywood.com