Blond, bouncy and beautiful, Doris Day captivated mid-20th century moviegoers in a series of rollicking romantic comedies with her favorite leading man, Rock Hudson, including "Pillow Talk" (1959) and "Lover Come Back" (1961), as well as the western musical "Calamity Jane" (1953), the Alfred Hitchcock's thriller "The Man Who Knew Too Much," the musical drama "Love Me or Leave Me" and many more.
A former singer with Les Brown's band in the 1940s, Day also was a bestselling recording artist whose trademark songs — "Sentimental Journey" and the Oscar-winning "Que Sera, Sera" — seemed to epitomize her upbeat spirit.
Unlike the brassy blonds of the 1930s and '40s, like Jean Harlow, Mae West and Betty Grable, Day was more the girl next door, both tomboyish and sexy. She fit perfectly into the zeitgeist of the 1950s — a decade of prosperity, hope and wholesomeness.
"She hoped to suggest that the world was OK," wrote David Thomson in "The New Biographical Dictionary of Film." "She was the home fire that refused to admit the Cold War. Above all, she was optimistic."
She turned in terrific dramatic performances in such films as "Love Me or Leave Me" (1955), in which she played singer Ruth Etting, and "The Man Who Knew Too Much" (1956), in which she played the mother of a kidnapped boy. Day was also a deft romantic comedy star opposite Clark Gable in "Teacher's Pet" (1958), in her sex comedies with Hudson, as well as with James Garner.
During her years in the spotlight, Day was always portrayed as happily married — to third husband and manager Martin Melcher — and loving mother to son Terry.
But according to her biographer David Kaufman – as well as her own 1975 autobiography – the true story was far different. In reality, Day was a talented woman who was unloved by her father, pushed by an ambitious stage mother, with four failed — and mostly loveless — marriages, who never got what she wanted: simply to have a happy home life.
Points of interest
|1959||Best Actress||Pillow Talk||Nomination|