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  • Writer's pictureSteve Vertlieb

Celebrating 100 years of Doris Day on Her Birthday Centennial

Remembering the wondrously youthful, eternally vivacious Doris Day whose infinite flirtation with joy, music, and film ended with her passing at age 97, on May 13th, 2019. Born April 3rd, 1922, Doris will remain forever timeless in our hearts and memories. She was truly everyone's favorite "girl next door," and the epitome of small town, traditional American values, sweet purity, and melancholy recollection.

Born Doris Mary Anne Kappelhoff, she changed her name to Doris Day and toured the country as a big band singer with Les Brown and "His Band of Renown" from 1939 until 1947, achieving No. 1 status with her popular World War Two recording of "Sentimental Journey." Leaving the Brown band, she broke out on her own as a solo artist.

After recording "Embraceable You," song writers Sammy Cahn and his partner Jule Stein suggested that she audition for director Michael Curtiz who was in the midst of casting "Romance On The High Seas" for Warner Bros. in 1948. She got the job and introduced one of her biggest hits, "It's Magic," in the film. Curtiz felt as though he had "discovered" her, and her film career began.

With no real acting experience, Day learned her craft "on the job," becoming one of the biggest movie stars of the late 1940's, 1950's and 1960's with such popular hits as My Dream Is Yours, Young At Heart with Frank Sinatra, Teacher's Pet with Clark Gable and the delightful Gig Young, Calamity Jane with Howard Keel (showcasing her hit recording of "Secret Love"), The Pajama Game with John Raitt, The Tunnel of Love with Richard Widmark, That Touch of Mink with Cary Grant, The Thrill Of It All and Move Over Darling, both with James Garner, as well as Pillow Talk and Lover Come Back, together with Rock Hudson and the irrepressible Tony Randall.

Her acting skills, which seemingly came naturally to her, were not limited to light comedy, but spilled over into deeply dramatic performances in such films as Love Me Or Leave Me as singer Ruth Etting, alongside James Cagney, Young Man With A Horn co-starring Kirk Douglas in a fictionalized account of the life and times of famed trumpeter Bix Beiderbecke, The Man Who Knew Too Much for director Alfred Hitchcock, alongside James Stewart (producing one of her biggest hits, "Que Sera Sera ... Whatever Will Be Will Be," and a classic Film Score by the great Bernard Herrmann), Julie opposite Louis Jourdan, and Midnight Lace with Rex Harrison.

Singer, Actress, and Animal Rights Activist, Doris Day would have turned one hundred years young on April 3rd, 2022 had she lived ... and yet she remains ever youthful, effervescent, vitally alive and as joyous a personality as she was in life. She was, is, and shall always remain the proverbial "girl next door" ... "Day" for night ... a ray of bright, enduring sunshine in a world still emerging from the darkness.

While famously private in her personal life, I was fortunate enough to have received a beautiful response from her some years ago when I tracked her down, writing definitively of my lifelong affection for her. It is reproduced here with love, reverence, and respect as we honor her passing into film, and musical legend. Doris Day will forever remain an integral component of my precarious youth, and coming of age. Rest Well, and Happy 100th Birthday, Doris. I shall always love you.


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