Doris Day dies aged 97: Tributes to legendary Hollywood star

Legendary American actress and singer Doris Day has died at her California home at the age of 97, her foundation has said.

The Doris Day Animal Foundation confirmed the legendary Hollywood star died early on Monday, surrounded by her close friends at her home in Carmel Valley.

Day, who starred as Calamity Jane in the 1953 film, "had been in excellent physical health for her age, until recently contracting a serious case of pneumonia", according to her foundation.

She was known as a honey-voiced singer and actress, whose film dramas, musicals and comedies made her a top star in the 1950s and 60s and among the most popular screen actresses in history.

Day's lilting voice, wholesome blond beauty and ultra-bright smile brought her a string of hits, first on records, and then later in Hollywood.

She turned 97 on April 3, and Day told the Hollywood Reporter she celebrated all week with "dear old friends out of town" and enjoyed "quiet dinners".

The Hollywood icon has been intensely private since retiring from acting, last appearing in public 30 years ago to accept an award at the 1989 Gold Globes.

Her final TV interview was shown to the world in 1994, and since then her only publicity has come through a smattering of interviews.

Tributes to Doris Day

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Doris Day: A Hollywood icon

With her lilting contralto, wholesome blonde beauty and glowing smile, she was a top box office draw and recording artist known for such films as "Pillow Talk" and "That Touch of Mink" and for such songs as "Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera)" from the Alfred Hitchcock film "The Man Who Knew Too Much."

But over time, she became more than a name above the title: Right down to her cheerful, alliterative stage name, she stood for a time of innocence and G-rated love, a parallel world to her contemporary Marilyn Monroe. Day herself was no Doris Day, by choice and by hard luck.

In "Pillow Talk," released in 1959 and her first of three films with Rock Hudson, she proudly caught up with what she called "the contemporary in me."

Doris Day on her 97th birthday. / Net

Her 1976 tell-all book, "Doris Day: Her Own Story," chronicled her money troubles and three failed marriages, contrasting with the happy publicity of her Hollywood career.

She never won an Academy Award, but Day was given a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2004, as George W. Bush declared it "a good day for America when Doris Marianne von Kappelhoff of Evanston, Ohio decided to become an entertainer."

In recent years, she spent much of her time advocating for animal rights. Although mostly retired from show business since the 1980s, she still had enough of a following that a 2011 collection of previously unreleased songs, "My Heart," hit the top 10 in the United Kingdom.

The same year, she received a lifetime achievement honour from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. Friends and supporters lobbied for years to get her an honorary Oscar.

Born to a music teacher and a housewife, she had dreamed of a dance career, but at age 12, she suffered a crippling accident: a car she was in was hit by a train and her leg was badly broken.

Listening to the radio while recuperating, she began singing along with Ella Fitzgerald, "trying to catch the subtle ways she shaded her voice, the casual yet clean way she sang the words."

Day began singing in a Cincinnati radio station, then a local nightclub, then in New York. A bandleader changed her name to Day, after the song "Dayafter Day," to fit it on a marquee.

A marriage at 17 to trombonist Al Jorden ended when, she said, he beat her when she was eight months pregnant. She gave birth to her son, Terry, in early 1942. Her second marriage also was short-lived.

Doris Day's films, and her leading men

1948 - Romance on the High Seas (Jack Carson)

1949 - My Dream Is Yours (Jack Carson); It's a Great Feeling (Dennis Morgan, Jack Carson)

1950 - Young Man with a Horn (Kirk Douglas); Tea for Two (Gordon MacRae); The West Point Story (James Cagney)

1951 - Storm Warning (Ronald Reagan); Lullaby of Broadway (Gene Nelson); On Moonlit Bay (Gordon MacRae); Starlift (cameo)

1952 - I'll See You in My Dreams (Danny Thomas); The Winning Team (Ronald Reagan)

1953 - April in Paris (Ray Bolger); By the Light of the Silvery Moon (Gordon MacRae); Calamity Jane (Howard Keel)

1954 - Lucky Me (Robert Cummings)

1955 - Young at Heart (Frank Sinatra); Love Me or Leave Me (James Cagney)

1956 - The Man Who Knew Too Much (James Stewart); Julie (Louis Jourdan).

1957 - The Pajama Game (John Raitt)

1958 - Teacher's Pet (Clark Gable); Tunnel of Love (Richard Widmark)

1959 - It Happened to Jane (Jack Lemmon); Pillow Talk (Rock Hudson)

1960 - Please Don't Eat the Daisies (David Niven); Midnight Lace (Rex Harrison)

1962 - Lover Come Back (Rock Hudson); That Touch of Mink (Cary Grant); Billy Rose'sJumbo (Stephen Boyd).

1963 - The Thrill of It All (James Garner); Move Over Darling (James Garner)

1964 - Send Me No Flowers (Rock Hudson)

1965 - Do Not Disturb (Rod Taylor)

1966 - Glass Bottom Boat (Rod Taylor)

1967 - Caprice (Richard Harris); Ballad of Josie (Peter Graves)

1968 - Where Were You When the Lights Went Out? (Robert Morse)

1969 - With Six You Get Egg Roll (Brian Keith).

Agencies

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