Doris Day, 90 and Sunny: A Birthday Tribute

Passport Magazine Publisher Don Tuthill pays tribute to Doris Day on her 90th birthday.

Screen shot via the Doris Day Animal Foundation

Screen shot via the Doris Day Animal Foundation

I fell in love with Doris Day when I was five years old.  It was a miserable, stormy summer day and I was stuck inside.  I was sprawled on the living room floor with my 108 box of Crayola ® and a coloring book.  The TV was blasting as it always was when I was around; and also as usual I wasn’t paying any attention to it.  Not until I heard a particular voice.  I looked up to see a pretty blonde lady singing with a guy. Turned out to be a trailer for an old movie that was going to be shown on a local station that night.   For reasons I still can’t explain I HAD to see that movie.  Problem was it came on after my official bedtime.   I spent the rest of the day nagging, cajoling, and making all sorts of promises to my mom in the hope that she would just let me stay up and watch it.    Eventually she relented.  Now I think it was more of the fact that the movie ( “Tea for Two”) was based on a Broadway musical (”No, No Nannette”) that had been written by a family friend and she wanted to see the movie too and she could share it with me. Anyway, I saw the movie and I was hooked.  I became a fan-atic for all things Doris Day.

Keep reading my Tribute to Doris Day after the jump…

Back then it wasn’t easy. There were records (on vinyl) but it was late in her career so you had to scour record stores and second shops to find them. There was no such thing as a VCR or DVD player (the dark ages) so you had to rely on TV stations to show her movies. I studied TV Guide® religiously to find them. And, since there was no way to record the movies, I’d use my little 2-track tape recorder to record the audio so I could listen to them over and over. (To be honest, I also did this with my favorite monster movies.)

Cut to: Decades Later… I was in a head-on collision and sent to the hospital with a broken neck. I was in Mt. Sinai for several weeks while doctors kept me pretty much immobilized and tried to figure out the best thing to do (“Operate?”; “Too dangerous.”). During this whole time the thing that kept me from freaking out was the music (now transferred to my Walkman®) and Doris Day’s own story of triumph over adversity.

When Doris was fourteen, she was in a car that was hit by a train. A friend of hers died and she ended up with both legs shattered. She had just won a dance competition with a grand prize of a trip to Hollywood and an audition. The doctors weren’t sure she’d ever be able to walk normally again let alone dance. Doris took up signing. The world knows how that turned out.

Doris Day gave up movies in 1968. She then spent her requisite time as a TV star and in 1974 she left Hollywood completely and moved to her estate in Carmel.

For the past 45 years she has spent her time as an animal activist, testifying before congress in an attempt to end the cosmetic industry’s use of animals in testing, and creating the Doris Day Animal Foundation to fight for  the four-leggers that can’t fight for themselves.

If you are a DD fan today, her 90th birthday would be a great day to say “Thank you” by making a donation to the DDAF. If you aren’t a fan (yet) do it for the four-leggers. You can donate here.

For those who don’t know Doris Day, here is my suggested Primer. Check’em out. You’ll become a fan too.

For sunny Days:

Romance on the High Seas. Her first movie, the one where the American public fell in love, and it has her Oscar winning song, “It’s Magic”.

Calamity Jane. Oscar for best song “Secret Love”… I’m told it was the gay anthem of the 1950s.

Pajama Game. Probably the world’s only socialist movie musical, and a favorite of Jean Luc Godard.

And, naturally, her three films with Rock Hudson: Pillow Talk (Doris’ only Oscar nomination for Best Actress); Lover Come Back; and Send me No Flowers. You can order all three by Clicking here.

For darker Days:

Love Me or Leave Me. The bio of 1920s singer Ruth Etting; and Doris gets raped by James Cagney.

Hitchcock’s 1956, The Man Who Knew Too Much. Murder, kidnapping, an assassination in Morocco and London, and an Oscar winning song, Que Sera Sera” to boot.

Midnight Lace, A deluxe Technicolor-noir with Doris driven to the brink by a stalker.

Oh…just one more.. and I’m not sure what category this fits in:

Julie. It’s an over-the-top melodrama wherein Doris has to single-handedly land an airliner after her psycho-husband shoots both the pilot and the co-pilot.

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