On April 3, Doris Day will celebrate her 90th birthday. And I plan to watch a few of her movies to commemorate.
However, it will be difficult to choose just a few. I mean, Doris Day starred in so many fun films that I love. Because Day could do it all. From her beginnings in musical comedies, she branched out into dramas and straight comedies. Her co-stars were among the top talents in Hollywood. From the late 40s through the early 70s, she worked steadily before finally retiring to devote her time to animal welfare and rescue.
As a young woman, Day studied to be a dancer; but a car accident changed that plan when her legs were injured. She spent several weeks in bed recovering – and listening to the radio. It was the Big Band era – and like just about everyone, Doris sang along to all the hits. One particular favorite influenced her the most: Ella Fitzgerald. Day loved the clear, effortless way that Fitzgerald sang, her voice gentle and each word clear, and decided to copy the style. Upon recovering, she took singing lessons – and that led to a career with Les Brown’s Orchestra and hit records.
Of course, Hollywood came calling and in 1948, Day made her movie debut in the musical comedy Romance on the High Seas. It was a hit, and she followed it up with My Dream is Yours and It’s a Great Feeling – then had a chance to prove that she was more than a song-and-dance girl with Young Man with a Horn.
From that point on, Day had no limits with her roles. Whether fun musicals, melodramas, or comedies, she gave performances that made her a favorite of moviegoers, as well as fellow actors and actresses, directors, songwriters, and producers.
If you’re new to Doris and you’d like to see what made her such a popular movie star, check our catalog for her movies. Some of my favorites are listed below.
Romance on the High Seas – A fun musical with Doris as a girl given a chance for a free cruise to South America – if she impersonates another woman. But trouble ensues when Doris meets a man on board – a private investigator who thinks she’s the other woman.
Pillow Talk – Hilarious romantic comedy. Day received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress as Jan, a woman frustrated with the other end of her telephone party line, womanizing songwriter Brad, played by Rock Hudson. Their first movie together and the best.
Love Me or Leave Me -- Day considered this to be her best movie and many agree that it’s her best performance. It was the story Ruth Etting, a popular singer from the early 20th century, and her tumultuous marriage to gangster Martin Snyder (played by James Cagney).
The Man Who Knew Too Much -- When Day asked director Alfred Hitchcock why he gave her so little instruction during the filming of this movie, he said it was because she was already doing exactly what he wanted. Day stars with James Stewart as a couple who stumble upon an assassination plot that places their entire family in danger.
Please Don’t Eat the Daisies – A fun movie from start to finish, as Doris plays the wife of a theatre critic, played by David Niven, and mother to their four very active sons. As the husband’s career takes off, the couple finds their marriage a bit strained. But, of course, you know things will end well.
The Thrill of It All – Doris is teamed with James Garner in this great domestic comedy. They play husband and wife who find their average, calm home life turned upside down when she becomes a national hit as the star of a soap commercial.
Finally, episodes of her TV sitcom are available on Doris Day Christmas Memories and Classic TV Comedy Christmas.
Today, Doris Day prefers to stay out of the spotlight, resisting offers to appear in movies and on TV. In 2011, she did release a CD of previously recorded songs and did some radio interviews. But we'll have her movies and songs to entertain us for years to come.