Legend Doris Day passes at 97

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It was a weekend of losing blonde legends.

Just a day after it was reported that Mod Squad and Twin Peaks actress Peggy Lipton had died, comes news that legendary actress and singer Doris Day has now passed away. She was 97.

The actress died early Monday surrounded by a few close friends at her Carmel Valley home, according to the Doris Day Animal Foundation.

Day had just celebrated her 97th birthday just last month with nearly 300 fans who gathered in Carmel to celebrate with her.

The Associated Press reports that Day had recently contracted a serious case of pneumonia which resulted in her death, the foundation said.

Born in Evanston, Ohio in 1922, Doris Mary Ann Kappelhoff was the daughter of a music teacher and a housewife. She had aspirations to become a dancer, but at 12 she was in a horrific car accident – hit by a train – breaking her leg. Inspired by Ella Fitzgerald, Day turned to singing.

Day first began singing on a Cincinnati radio station. Nightclubs would soon follow. Day then ended up then a local nightclub, then in New York. After she began her career as a big band singer in 1939, her popularity increased with her first hit recording “Sentimental Journey” in 1945.

After leaving Les Brown & His Band of Renown, who changed her last name to Day, she embarked on a solo career. Day recorded more than 650 songs from 1947 to 1967, which made her one of the most popular and acclaimed singers of the 20th century.

During her time with the band, Day married trombonist Al Jorden at 17. It soon ended after she claimed he beat her when she was eight months pregnant. She gave birth to her son, Terry, in early 1942.

Her second marriage also was short-lived. She returned to Les Brown’s band after the first marriage broke up.

Hollywood Says Hello

Day’s long and illustrious acting career reportedly began after she sang at a Hollywood party in 1947.

Day won the best notices of her career with Love Me or Leave Me, the story of songstress Ruth Etting and her gangster husband-manager. The 1955 film became a box-office and critical success.

She followed with Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much, starring with James Stewart. The two played an innocent couple ensnared in an international assassination plot. She sang “Que Sera, Sera” just as the story reached its climax. The 1958 comedy Teacher’s Pet paired her with an aging Clark Gable.

But Day finally found her niche in stylish sex comedies of the 60’s. In Pillow Talk, she and Hudson played two New Yorkers who shared a telephone party line. Day was nominated for her first Oscar:

She followed with The Thrill of It All, playing a housewife who gains fame as a TV pitchwoman to the chagrin of obstetrician husband James Garner.

ALSO READ: Peggy Lipton, star of ‘Mod Squad,’ ‘Twin Peaks’ has passed

The nation’s theater owners voted her the top moneymaking star in 1960, 1962, 1963 and 1964.

Day would star in nearly 40 movies in the next two decades, reigning supreme with rivals Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor.

With movies trending for more explicit sex, the actress turned to television to recoup her finances. The Doris Day Show was a moderate success in its 1966-1973 run on CBS.

Her 1976 tell-all book, “Doris Day: Her Own Story,” chronicled her money troubles and three failed marriages, contrasting with the happy publicity of her Hollywood career.

“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,” she wrote.

George W. Bush also awarded Day the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2004, declaring it “a good day for America when Doris Marianne von Kappelhoff of Evanston, Ohio decided to become an entertainer.”

Recent Years

In recent years, Day had been an animal rights advocate and her Doris Day Animal Foundation confirmed her death early Monday at her Carmel Valley, California, home. The foundation said she was surrounded by close friends.

“Day had been in excellent physical health for her age, until recently contracting a serious case of pneumonia, resulting in her death,” the foundation said in an emailed statement.

The foundation also said she requested “no funeral or memorial service and no grave marker.”

Source: Associated Press

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