DORIS DAY (By Steve Walker)

Born Doris Mary Kappelhoff, 3 April 1922, Cincinnati, Ohio.
Died 13 May 2019, Carmel Valley Village, California.

Doris Day was born Doris Mary Ann von Kappelhoff to German Catholic parents in Cincinnati, Ohio (her grandparents were German immigrants). Most records give her birthday as April 3rd 1924, but in fact she is believed to have been born on April 3rd 1922. She had a brother Richard, who died before she was born and Paul, a few years older than her. Her father and mother split when she was about eight.

At twelve, she had a dance act with a boy called Jerry Doherty, with whom - after winning $500 in a talent contest - she went to Hollywood. On returning to Cincinatti, aged fourteen, Doris was in a terrible car crash which almost ended her dancing career.

Devastated that her dancing hopes were shattered, Doris applied her talents elsewhere. She began taking singing lessons and was promoted by her tutor, who managed to get her some air time on a local radio station. She was brought to the attention of band leader Barney Rapp, who signed her up to perform with his band. At this time Doris Kappelhoff became Doris Day, taking the name from one of her favourite songs, 'Day After Day'.

As her popularity grew, she teamed up with Bob Crosby and his band, and later with Les Brown, entertaining the troops during the war years of the 1940s. Whilst touring with the Les Brown Band, Doris met Al Jorden, who she later married in 1941. Al turned out to be a violent man and soon after the birth of her son Terry in 1942, she initiated divorce proceedings.

In 1944, Doris had her first world wide hit as girl singer for the Les Brown Band. "Sentimental Journey" sold over one million copies. She followed this more hits with the band, including "My Dreams Are Getting Better All The Time" from the film "In Society" (1945), "Day By Day" (1946) and "I Got The Sun In The Morning" (1946) from the Broadway musical "Annie Get Your Gun". In 1946, she married band member, George Weidler, but once again happiness was short lived and they divorced after only eight months together.

In 1947 she commenced a solo recording career with Columbia, hitting the heights with her third release "Love Somebody". In 1948, after singing with Frank Sinatra on "The Saturday Night Hit Parade" (a U.S. radio programme), Doris was persuaded by those close to her to make her first film, at Warner Brothers - "Romance On The High Seas", starring alongside Jack Carson. The film was a success and Doris Day the actress was born. The Oscar-nominated song from the film, Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne's "It's Magic", was a major hit, and the way was set for screen stardom.

When the very first "New Musical Express" "Top 12" chart was published on 14 November, 1952, Doris Day was represented by her collaborative hit with Frankie Laine, "Sugarbush".

Whilst filming for Warner Brothers, she met Marty Melcher who became her agent and later, on her 27th (or 29th) birthday, her third husband. Many films followed: comedies, musicals and serious drama, with Doris starring alongside such movie greats as James Cagney (in "Love Me Or Leave Me" and "West Point Story"), Cary Grant (in "That Touch Of Mink"), James Stewart (in Alfred Hitchcock's "The Man Who Knew Too Much") and Rock Hudson (in "Lover Come Back", "Pillow Talk" and "Send Me No Flowers"). She will perhaps be most fondly remembered for her performances in the lively musical "Calamity Jane" (1953) and the comedies alongside Rock Hudson in the late 1950s/early 1960s. Doris made her last film "With Six You Get Eggroll" in 1968, whilst still in her mid-40s.

Many of her hit songs were from the films she made during this period, such as "Secret Love" and "The Black Hills Of Dakota" (from "Calamity Jane", 1954) and "Que Sera Sera" (from "The Man Who Knew Too Much", 1956). Doris's recording career declined after 1956, with only "Everybody Loves A Lover" in 1958 making any serious impact on the hit parade. "Move Over Darling" provided her last UK chart entry in 1964.

In 1968, when her film and singing career were coming to an end, Marty Melcher died and Doris discovered that over the years he had mismanaged their finances, leaving behind large debts which threatened to bankrupt her. She also discovered that he had signed her up for a commitment to CBS to host "The Doris Day Show" on TV. This contract provided her with a way to earn income again and the great success of the show, which ran from 1968-1973, gave her the opportunity to begin recouping her losses. Her financial future was secured when she won a substantial claim against Melcher's lawyer, who had played a part in the mismanagement of her funds, and she was awarded $22 million.

Her fourth husband was Barry Comden, whom she married in 1976. The marriage lasted only four years. Since her divorce in 1980 she has devoted her life to animals. She now lives in the area of the town of Carmel, California.

Doris recorded 18 studio albums and over 530 separate songs. There are more than 60 CD's available which feature Doris and new compilations seem to appear each year.

Favourite quotes about Doris Day:

"Doris Day has the best tush in Hollywood".................James Garner

"I knew Doris Day before she was a virgin"...............Oscar Levant

Recommended listening: Golden Girl: The Columbia Recordings 1944-1966 (2 CD set) Columbia Legacy C2K 065505


Picture of Doris in b-b-b-b-buckskins:

These pages were originally published as "This Is My Story" in the
Yahoo Group "Shakin' All Over". For comments or information
please contact Dik de Heer at

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