Doris Day has died, nearly two months after turning 97. The blonde star’s sunny screen presence captured America’s hearts, along with the box office. She was celebrated as the wholesome “girl next store” in an era dominated by screen sirens. In the 1940s, 50s, and 60s Day dominated the box office with a series of blockbuster, fun-loving hits.
Celebrities, including Goldie Hawn, Carl Reiner, William Shatner, Paul McCartney and George Takei shared their grief on social media.
McCartney wrote: “So sad to hear of Doris Day passing away. She was a true star in more ways than one. I had the privilege of hanging out with her on a few occasions.”
He continued, “Visiting her in her Californian home was like going to an animal sanctuary where her many dogs were taken care of in splendid style. She had a heart of gold and was a very funny lady who I shared many laughs with. Her films like ‘Calamity Jane’, ‘Move Over, Darling’ and many others were all incredible and her acting and singing always hit the mark.”
Day died at 1:00 am on Monday at her home in California, her rep told People. Since the 1980s, Day has kept a relatively low profile, choosing to devote most of her time to charitable causes and her 11-acres in Carmel.
Day rose to fame on the radio, appearing with the with the Big Bands of Barney Rapp and Bob Crosby, and enjoying her first hit with Les Brown’s Band in “Sentimental Journey.”
Day went solo in 1947, auditioning for Warner Bros. Her most well-known hits include 1954’s Love Me or Leave Me, a fictionalized, biopic of ’20s singer Ruth Etting and 1956’s The Man Who Knew Too Much, directed by Alfred Hitchcock, and co-starring James Stewart. In The Man Who Knew Too Much, she sang her Oscar-winning song, “Que Sera Sera.” She also starred in Calamity Jane and Pillow Talk.
Day’s work garnered an Oscar nomination and multiple Golden Globe awards, including the Cecil B. DeMille in 1989. In 2009, she was honored with the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2004, President George W. Bush awarded her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
While her career was successful, her personal life was sometimes less-than-stellar. Three of her four marriages ended in divorce, and her third husband (also her manager) Martin Melcher died and left her penniless. She later sued to reclaim $20 million from his business partner.
In a rare interview with The Hollywood Reporter last month, Day admitted she still gets fan mail. “I get so many love letters from fans as young as 8 years old, telling me they were introduced by my films and music by their great-grandmothers, and my movies make them happy. Different films resonate with viewers for different reasons, but the common thread seems to be that my films are uplifting,” she told the magazine. On the topic of her legacy, she added, “I enjoyed working and always tried to do the best job I could with every role. I'm thrilled to know that people are still watching my films and are uplifted by them.”
In a statement, the foundation she created encouraged fans to make donations in her honor. “Doris’ wishes were that she have no funeral or memorial service and no grave marker,” the Doris Day Animal Foundation, which the actress founded in 1978, said in Monday’s statement. “Friends and fans wishing to remember Doris Day, are encouraged to visit www.dorisdayanimalfoundation.org.”