Remembering Doris Day

Doris Day, the acclaimed and beloved actress died this past Monday, May 13th. For many people, Day is the face of post-war American cinema, and is known not only for her films, but her crooning voice.

Day was born in Ohio in 1922, and was a near-professional dancer before a car accident shattered her leg. Forced to give up dance, she took singing lesson while she recovered, and soon began singing in local clubs. She moved to singing with touring big bands just after WWII, and launched her film career in 1948 with Romance on the High Seas at Warner Brothers. She starred in minor musicals at the studio before landing the lead role in Calamity Jane in 1953.

By the time the 1960s rolled around, she’d stared in films like Alfred Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much, and began starring in romantic dramas with Rock Hudson, such as Pillow Talk. Her films were some of the decade’s most successful, and she regularly topped the box office in the early 60s.

Despite her commercial success and popular appeal, Day garnered an interesting reputation. She was consistently characterized as a sunny, all-American virginal angel, despite the fact that the characters she played were often anything but. Contemporary feminists panned her, but more recent feminist critics have re-examined her movies. Almost all the characters she played in romantic dramas were career women, and they were often more concerned about their professional success than romantic pursuits.

These themes carried over into her situation sitcom, The Doris Day Show, which aired from 1968 to 1973. Though she began the series playing a widow who somewhat reluctantly returns to work as a secretary at a magazine, by the time the final season aired, her children had been written out, and her widow was a seasoned reporter. The show chronicled the life of an American working woman and would influence an entire genre of sitcoms and situation comedies.

You can check out these Doris Day films from Media Services:

  • Calamity Jane (DVD 338)
  • The Man Who Knew Too Much (DVD 3529)
  • Young Man With a Horn (DVD 337)
  • Love Me or Leave Me (DVD 6664)
  • The Doris Day and Rock Hudson Comedy Collection (DVD 4071)
  • Please Don’t Eat the Daisies (DVD 10649)
  • The Pajama Game (DVD 10603)
Posted in Obituaries.