Doris Day, who used her girl-next-door good looks to charm American audiences during a decades-long acting and singing career, died on Monday. She was 97.
Best known for her contemplative tune “Que Sera, Sera,” Day passed away encompassed by dear friends at her home close Carmel Valley, California, the Doris Day Animal Foundation said in an announcement.
She “had been in excellent physical health for her age, until recently contracting a serious case of pneumonia,” according to the foundation. She had just turned 97 on April 3.
Day broke into show business as a singer, and recorded a hit “Sentimental Journey” with bandleader Les Brown in 1945. That and “Que Sera, Sera” — which Day performed in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1956 spine chiller “The Man Who Knew Too Much” — were her greatest chart-toppers.
The multi-talented Day would bounce off the turntable and on to the wide screen, with credits in 39 movies. Her best-realized screen works include”Pillow Talk” in 1959, “The Man Who Knew Too Much” in 1956, “Cherish Me or Leave Me” in 1955, “Cataclysm Jane” in 1953 and “Lover Come Back” in 1960.
“During her three decades of work in film, Day starred in nearly every genre, not just as a singer/dancer but as an actress with superb comic timing, a natural talent for interpreting a role and a gift for evoking emotion,” her foundation said.
Day was the first Hollywood star many of American’s Baby Boom generation ever knew.
“For those of us in my generation, Doris Day was synonymous with Hollywood icon,” actor George Takei said in a statement. “She would no doubt remind us, upon this day of her passing, ‘Que sera sera,’ but we will miss her dearly anyway. Rest now in our hearts forever, Ms. Day.”
Day was married four times, which conflicted with her squeaky clean public and big-screen persona. In her 1976 book, “Doris Day: Her Own Story,” the actress said her real life was much more complicated.
With three bad marriages in her rear-view mirror at the time, Day said couples should live together before walking down the aisle — a risque, forward-thinking stance at the time.
“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.
Doris Mary Ann von Kappelhoff was born on April 3, 1922, in Cincinnati, the offspring of mother Alma Sophia Welz and father Frederick Wilhelm Von Kappelhoff, who was a music teacher.
The most youthful of three children, Day was named after silent movie actress Doris Kenyon.
While Day never won an Oscar, she was honored with a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2004.
President George W. Bush declared that it was “a good day for America when Doris Marianne von Kappelhoff of Evanston, Ohio decided to become an entertainer.”
In her post-excitement profession, Day directed most of her energy into animal rights, through her Doris Day Animal Foundation.
The legendary entertainer “wishes were that she have no funeral or memorial service and no grave marker,” according to her foundation’s statement.