With the sad news of Doris Day’s passing at the grand age of 97, here at Moviola HQ, we wanted to reflect on the joy she brought to millions of us through her acting and, of course, her singing! The indelible smile she wore on and off-screen only added to her evergreen appeal to audiences the world over.
Originally embarking on a singing career (as her parents were a music teacher and choirmaster), she tried her luck with a few song-and-dance numbers at the age of 15, before moving into B-Movie Westerns after being signed by Warner Bros. in the early 1930s. However, she didn’t land a starring role for almost 20 years until Romance on The High Seas (1948), after which her profile and Hollywood star soared.
Her major hit was the well-received Calamity Jane (1953) in which Doris’ Jane revelled in boisterous drinking, one-upmanship and boastful gunplay. Audiences became enamoured with the amiable character whose universal appeal and catchy songs bolstered Day’s fame even further.
She married a record producer, and keen to keep her singing ability honed, she released further records in the early 50’s – most memorable of which for many Brits was ‘Que Sera Sera’ – taken from the Alfred Hitchcock film The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956). Day starred alongside James Stewart in this classic suspense tale of a married couple who encounter a strange traveller whilst on holiday in Morocco.
Most cinephiles will point to Pillow Talk (1959) as her masterwork, which garnered her sole Oscar nomination for Best Actress, alongside beau-of-the-day, Rock Hudson. A film flirt-a-thon involving a party-line (one supposes the modern equivalent would be voice-only Tinder!), where a chance real-life encounter converges their telephone fantasies and concedes their anonymity, all of which leads to a comedy of errors and many musical numbers!
In later life, Doris ditched the big screen and performed on TV (though she allegedly saw it as a necessary evil), and eventually channelled her boundless energy into her animal welfare charity. However, here at Moviola, we’ll always remember her permanent positivity as the classic ‘American Sweetheart’ whether she was crackin’ whips or seductively asking us ‘Love Me Or Leave Me’.
Alas, she leaves us but with her enduring voice and wonderous screen presence.
“I like joy; I want to be joyous; I want to have fun on the set; I want to wear beautiful clothes and look pretty. I want to smile, and I want to make people laugh. And that’s all I want. I like it. I like being happy. I want to make others happy.”
Doris Day 1922 – 2019