Saturday, 31 March 2012

Screen Siren #3 Doris Day

Doris Mary Ann Kappelhoff
Born April 3rd 1924

I initially came across Doris Day when I saw Calamity Jane with my mother as a child. I was very young, no more than six years old, and had no appreciation for old films so I never paid much attention. But when I was much older I watched It's A Wonderful Life and fell in love with James Stewart and old films. The first film I properly watched starring Doris Day was Teacher's Pet. Her likable nature shone through and I instantly felt a lot of affection for her.

Doris was named after her mother's favourite silent film actress, Doris Kenyon. Her father was reportedly unfaithful to her mother and they divorced. Doris was initially interested in becoming a dancer but car accident damaged her legs to the point where she had no hope of ever becoming a professional dancer. While recovering from the accident Doris discovered that she had a talent for singing. Her mother arranged for her to have singing lessons and during this time Doris got her first professional job as a vocalist. This is when she was discovered by Barney Rapp and whilst she was working with him they changed her last name to Day as Kappelhoff was "too long for marquees." The origin on this name came from the first song she performed for him: "Day After Day."

Doris became a successful singer, singing with the likes of Bob Crosby and Les Brown. Her popularity lead to a career in films, which also provided her with more hit songs. Her talent for both singing and acting could not be ignored and in 1950 U.S. servicemen in Korea voted her their favorite star.

Doris married four times. Her first marriage was to Al Jorden with whom she had her son, Terry. Al was reportedly physically abusive towards her and committed suicide in 1967. She married George Weidler in 1946 but they divored three years later.Her marriage to her third husband, Marty Melcher, left her in debt after his death. He and his business partner had been squandering her earnings and in 1974 courts awarded her $22,835,646 for fraud and malpractice. She married for the fourth time to Barry Comden. When they divorced her claimed that she cared more for her "animal friends" than she did for him. Doris loved animals very much and was an animal activist.  She was the co-founder of Actors and Others for Animals where she campaigned for the rights of animals. 

Doris now lives in California. It cannot be denied that she was a beautiful and talented actress and singer with a heart of gold. They most certainly don't make them like that anymore.

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