Evergreen Hollywood legend Doris Day, best known for Calamity Jane and romantic comedies with Rock Hudson, has died aged 97.
The Doris Day Animal Foundation announced in a press release late yesterday, “Doris Day passed away early this morning at her Carmel Valley home, having celebrated her 97th birthday on April 3 of this year. Nearly 300 fans gathered in Carmel last month to celebrate Day’s birthday. Day had been in excellent physical health for her age, until recently contracting a serious case of pneumonia, resulting in her death. She was surrounded by a few close friends as she passed.”
Day began her professional singing career at age 15, and she had her first hit, “Sentimental Journey,” with Les Brown’s band in 1945. That tune, and her signature “Que Sera Sera,” became her biggest hits.
She appeared in 39 films, including Tea for Two, Storm Warning, The Man Who Knew Too Much, On Moonlight Bay, By the Light of the Silvery Moon, Pillow Talk, Calamity Jane, Young at Heart, The Pajama Game, Please Don’t Eat the Daisies, Do Not Disturb, and With Six You Get Eggroll.
Although she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, a Grammy for Lifetime Achievement and the Cecil B. Demille Award at the Golden Globes, she never won an Oscar. But there were also doubts she would ever turn up if one had been honoured in recent years, having largely lived as a recluse.
Day starred in The Doris Day Show sitcom from 1968 – 1973 which helped restore her finances after discovering she was bankrupt due to mismanagement. She later revealed her husband Martin Melcher had signed her to do the series without her knowledge.
Day was an advocate for animal welfare, running the Doris Day Animal Foundation, adopting stray pets and owning a hotel where animals socialised alongside humans during a daily “Yappy Hour.”
In a rare interview with The Hollywood Reporter last month she named Calamity Jane as her favourite film but added she also “had such fun working with my pal, Rock (Hudson). We laughed our way through three films we made together and remained great friends. I miss him.”