Profile of a Performer: Doris Day


Doris Day
Doris Day



Doris Day was born Doris Mary Ann Kappelhoff in Cincinnati on April 3, 1924. She was named after the silent film actress, Doris

Kenyon.  She is of German ancestry and her parents both had a great love and appreciation for music.  Her father was a music teacher and church organist.  She began dancing at a very young age and planned to have a career as a dancer.  Dancing was an outlet that helped her deal with the fail of her parents’ marriage.

On October 13, 1937, she was riding in a car that was struck by a train, damaging her legs.  This accident put an end to her dreams of being a professional dancer.  During her recovery, she discovered she had a nice singing voice.  Doris soon began voice lessons and had her first professional job as a vocalist on a local radio show.  Barney Rapp heard her singing and asked for an audition at which she sang “Day After Day.”  Once Rapp hired her, he decided to change her last name to Day.  Doris worked with a number of other band leaders.

Doris had a short lived marriage from 1941-1943 to Al Jorden.  Her only child, Terry

Doris Day
Doris Day

Melcher was born during this time.  She was married to George Weidler from 1946-1949.

Les Brown led her to record “Sentimental Journey” in 1945, which was her first hit.  This song is still one of her biggest hits and she re-recorded the song several times. US servicemen serving in Korea voted her their favorite star in 1950. In 1951 she married Martin Melcher.  From 1947 to 1967 she recorded over 650 singles and released 29 albumsQue Sera, Sera was another big hit and is often perceived as her signature song.  Other hit songs include It’s Magic, Secret Love, All I Do Is Dream of You, The Way You Look Tonight, Somebody Loves Me,  On Moonlight Bay, By the Light of the Moon, When I Fall in Love, The Windy City, Pillow Talk, Roly Poly and Young at Heart.

Her success on the radio led to a career in films.  She is well known for her girl next door image.  Her first movie was “Romance on the High Seas.” She appeared in a number of films over the next two decades.  Some of my favorites are Calamity Jane, Tea for Two, Lullaby of Broadway, On Moonlight Bay and its sequel, By the Light of the Silvery Moon. Later she took on dramatic roles.  Some of her most popular are the three she did with Rock Hudson, Pillow Talk, Lover Come Back and Send Me No Flowers.  Other popular roles include The Thrill of It All, Move Over, Darling, That Touch of Mink and Midnight Lace.  The last film she made was With Six You Get Eggroll, in 1968.  During the course of her thirty-nine films, she served with a great range of lead actors including Gordon

Doris Day and Rock Hudson
Doris Day and Rock Hudson

MacRae, James Gardner, Rex Harrison, Howard Keel, Kirk Douglas, Jack Carson, David Niven, Danny Thomas, Frank Sinatra and Clark Gable.  For four years from 1960-1965, she was ranked the biggest box-office star.

When her third husband, Martin Melcher, died in 1968, she discovered all of her earnings had been squandered.  She entered into legal proceedings that lasted for decades.  Shortly after her husband’s death, she discovered he’d committed her to her own television show.  The Doris Day Show lasted for five years.

Doris always loved animals.  In 1971 she co-founded Actors and Others for Animals.  She is known as an outspoken activist for animals.

In 1975, she released her autobiography, Doris Day: Her Own Story. The next year she entered into a five year marriage with Barry Comden.

In 1985 she became part owner {with her son} of the Cypress Inn in Carmel, CA. That year she also had a short lived talk show, Doris Day’s Best Friends.  Rock Hudson made his final public appearance on this show.  Her last public appearance was in 1989.

Her son, Terry, died in 2004. Doris Day3

Doris is still alive and living in Carmel, California.  According to Wikipedia, she prefers her friends to call her Clara Kappelhoff.

She funded the Doris Day Animal Horse Rescue Facility in Texas in 2009.  In 2011, the album My Heart, was released.  This was a list of recordings never before released in the 1960s.  The album hit the charts in the UK, making her the “oldest female artist to ever have had a top ten album on the UK Billboard charts.” That same year she was also the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award.  This is just one of many awards she’s won throughout her career.  Some of her other awards include the Cecil B. DeMille Award, Presidential Medal of Freedom, Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and an academy award nomination for Pillow Talk.


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