Sunday, March 28, 2010

Happy Birthday Doris Mary Ann Kappelhoff

You know her as a beloved actress, animal rights supporter and if you've ever visited Carmel, perhaps you have stopped by her hotel, The Cypress Inn. And you know her as Doris Day a.k.a. Doris Mary Ann Kappelhoff, America's sweetheart and one of the most stylish women of sixties cinema.

This week marks Day's 88th birthday. Her career began as a big band singer (she first recorded the hit Sentimental Journey) and she has starred in 39 films that have ranged from melodrama (Young at Heart with Frank Sinatra) to suspense (Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much which gave birth to her hit Que Sera Sera). But it was her romantic comedies that teamed her with handsome leading men that really put her on the map.

Doris on set of Pillow Talk

Giving new meaning to the film term "romp," Doris starred in several films with Rock Hudson (a lifelong friend) such as Send Me No Flowers (1964), Pillow Talk (1959), and Lover Come Back (1961). She also starred in two of my personal favorites, Move Over Darling (1963) and The Thrill of it All (1964) with James Garner. Move Over Darling was originally supposed to be "Something's Got to Give" with Marilyn Monroe and Dean Martin (eventually that title was used for a very popular 2003 film:) )

Pillow Talk above and center

The Thrill of It All  and its classic sixties master bedroom with twin beds

Her films were filled with iconic sixties costume and interior designs. Audiences loved her as the quintessential (and virginal) Manhattan career woman (and one of the first interior decorators on film) Jan Morrow in Pillow Talk, a competitive Madison Avenue ad woman in Lover Come Back and the housewife turned commercial pitch woman in The Thrill of It All. She was nominated for an Oscar in 1960 for Best Actress on Pillow Talk. (Note - look for a set design piece soon on Move Over Darling).

Perhaps a sign of the times, she was the ultimate role model on screen and women everywhere wanted to be like her and dress like her. Dubbed as the world's oldest virgin in her movie roles, she turned down the part of Mrs. Robinson in The Graduate. Imagine how different that film would have been!

Chic in Pink

Doris could have been a sixties Tory Burch

America's sweetheart was not without her tragedies. She was married four times and sadly her third husband Martin Melcher bankrupted her and after he passed away, she learned he had committed her to a television series, The Doris Day Show. The show was a huge success and lasted five seasons. Her son Terry Melcher had the ultimate near death experience as police believe he was possibly targeted in an unsuccessful murder plot by Charles Manson and his "family." Manson approached him at his home (which he shared with actress Candice Bergen)  in Los Angeles for a record deal (through an introduction from Beach Boy Dennis Wilson). Melcher turned him down and legend has it he returned with revenge on his mind and found renters Sharon Tate and friends instead, and of course, the rest is history.  He passed away at the age of 62 after a long battle with melanoma.

Doris at home

A tireless animal rights activist, Doris founded Actors and Others for Animals in 1971 with fellow colleagues Mary Tyler Moore and Angie Dickinson. This eventually led to the Doris Day Animal League in 1994 which focuses on pet overpopulation in the United States (note - the group merged with the Humane Society in 2006). DDAL also founded Spay Day in 1995 and the group also has been at the forefront of legislation on animal testing, puppy mills and horse protection. Apparently she saw animals being mistreated during the filming of The Man Who Knew Too Much and the cause against animal cruelty became a lifelong passion.

If you are ever in Carmel, be sure to stop by or stay at the Cypress Inn. Animals are welcome and it's truly a delightful place. 

She lives a very quiet and reclusive life on an ll acre estate in California and still works on behalf of our four legged friends. Happy Birthday Doris! Movie lovers  and animals thank you!

For more on the life and times of Doris Day, check out these books:

Doris Day: The Untold Story of the Girl Next Door by David Kaufman (Virgin Books, 2009)

Considering Doris Day by Tom Santopietro (Thomas Dunne, 2007)

Michael Freedland's bio Doris Day Illustrated (Andre Deutsch, 2009)

Photo Credits: Leo Fuchs, Ross Hunter/Universal Pictures.


  1. Thank you, Cathy, for remembering Doris Day, and especially her tireless advocacy of animals. As you know, I am a lover of animals as well, and volunter for their welfare, so your article was much appreciated.

    Great photos, too, of her various outfits.

    Nice post!

  2. We are lucky to have her on the planet!!! Thanks as always for reading.

  3. I love, love, love Doris Day! I could watch pillow talk a million times and never tire of it. And I adore her clothes! Thanks for this fun post. I am a pet lover too and didn't remember all she has done for them.

  4. I share your love an DORIS DAY! Enjoyed your blog and wanted to tell you and ALL Doris Day fans about the weekly DORIS DAY & FRIENDS radio show from FredNetRadio - this station can be heard world-wide by going to:
    Click on Listen Here Now
    FredNetRadio chose MIKE DeVITA, a long-time friend and fan of Miss Day to host this great radio show - The live show is on Sundays @ 3:00PM (EST) with an encore @ 3:00PM, 8:00PM and Midnight on Wednesdays. Mike gives great commentary about Doris and her music and he plays at least 20+ songs and often more if the show goes way longer than an hour. It is definitely musical history with DORIS DAY all the way! People are listening all over the world and enjoying music the way it should be - the DORIS DAY way. FredNetRadio plays awesome music all day long - the very BEST from the 40s, 50s and 60s - from the Beach Boys, Frank Sinatra, Connie Francis, all the groups in the 60s and of course, DORIS DAY! She is featured at least 4 or more times every hour, and then of course during her special show, she is singing the whole show!

    A heads up for April 3rd - there will be a very special DORIS DAY BIRTHDAY SHOW on her actual birthday, Saturday, April 3rd, from 1:00PM to 4:00PM (EST). FredNetRadio and Mike DeVita are planning some exciting things for everyone who loves Doris.

    Call in to leave a birthday wish for Doris Day on this toll free number: 1-877-846-9180
    Call as soon as you can - these calls will be broadcast on the show and a CD will be given to Doris. It’s your chance to give Doris your personal birthday wish!

    Tell all your friends about FredNetRadio and enjoy radio the way it should be - with great music 24/7.

    I used to be Doris Day's personal secretary in the 70s when she was filming her TV Show at CBS....just wanted to share this info with will love FredNetRadio!

    Mary Anne Barothy

  5. I so enjoyed reading your tribute to Doris Day today. I love her movies when I was growing up and her clothes were so stylish. The sets of her movies fun to look at the details. She is a treasure!

  6. I enjoyed your article on Doris Day, except for referring to her as virginal. This myth has been perpetuated about her and has been very detrimental to her image. Ms. Day didn't appreciate being referred to as virginal, for that was not what she wanted to portray in her films. Ms. Day's fans , in general, found that in Pillow Talk she was a sexy and independent single working woman who led a great life style. That's what made her popular. It was some critics and comedians who unfairly portrayed her image as virginal. Doris Day was one of the greatest and beloved movie stars because she was a great actress, comedienne and singer.

  7. Agreed, she hated the virginal reference. Films at that time had to be politically correct -- it was the sixties -- an unfortunately it stuck. Thanks for your note!!!

  8. I totally agree about that "virginal" nonsense. She never portrayed virgins ... just independent career women or married women with children. But as far as her libido went, it seemed that she was as full blooded as any woman, and quite sexy to boot!

  9. Thank you for such a terrific post! Doris is an underappreciated gem and overlooked by our generation. Whenever life gets to be too much, I pop in a Doris DVD (Move Over Darling & The Thrill of it All are my favorites, too), and she chases the blues away. Pure sunshine. Thanks again, and happiest of birthdays to our darling Doris!

  10. My absolute favorite - That Touch of Mink! I just adore Ms. Day. Thank you for this lovely tribute. EEE

  11. Wanda Hugley TelfordMay 1, 2011 at 8:02 PM

    I have always loved Dori Day!! If i had a dollar for the times i have watched Pillow Talk and Calamity Jane i could be rich.She was so gorgeous and always ladylike.I wanted so much to look like her.I am so glad to know she is alive and well.God bless her!!

  12. She has always been an icon and the type of lady that provides a good influence to younger girls. I appreciated all of her movies because she portrayed dignity, manners, style and elegance. Especially compared to all the dirt, trash and filth that you see on the screen today.

    What I admired the most about her while I was growing up is her love for animals. Its nice to know that some people can be just as beautiful on the inside as you are on the outside.

  13. Lovely post, I've adored Doris Day since i was a child still do, love nothing better then watching one of her movies on a saturday afternoon. Such a talent in one person and caring too. Movies were so happy and pretty to watch, the clothes, the cast, even the dialogue was so simple and sweet, the sets were stunning, i've just done a blog on movie apartments/houses. feel free to check it out. nicki

  14. thanks Nicki - what is the name of your blog?