Doris Day, the perennial girl-next-door whose career as a singer and actress spanned almost 50 years and made her one of the biggest Hollywood stars and most popular entertainers in the United States, has died. She was 97.
The Doris Day Animal Foundation told Fox News Day died early Monday at her Carmel Valley, Calif., home. The foundation said in an emailed statement she was surrounded by close friends and “had been in excellent physical health for her age, until recently contracting a serious case of pneumonia.”
Day was known as a honey-voiced singer and gifted actress whose film dramas, musicals and innocent sex comedies made her a top star in the 1950s and ’60s and among the most popular screen actresses in history.
Day’s lilting voice, wholesome blond beauty and ultra-bright smile brought her a string of hits, first on records and later in Hollywood.
Despite her seemingly perpetually sunny and smiling exterior, Day’s life took a number of tragic turns, including the death of her only child, three divorces and the death of another husband who turned out to have squandered her earnings, leaving her deeply in debt.
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.
She never won an Academy Award, but Day was given a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2004, as George W. Bush declared it “a good day for America when Doris Marianne von Kappelhoff of Evanston, Ohio decided to become an entertainer.”
In later years, she lived quietly near Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, where she was an animal welfare activist and founded the Doris Day Animal Foundation.
Day was associated with any number of recordings, but her most famous and signature song was “Que Sera Sera” (“Whatever Will Be, Will Be”) from Alfred Hitchcock’s 1956 film “The Man Who Knew Too Much.”
In a 2012 interview with NPR, Day admitted her initial reaction was “I didn’t think it was a good song.” But when it became wildly popular, she said, “I realized maybe it isn’t a favorite song of mine but people loved it. And kids loved it. And it was perfect for the film. So I can’t say it’s a favorite song of mine, but boy, it sure did something.”