She was one of Hollywood's brightest stars, known for her dazzling smile and irrepressible joie de vivre. Now singer, actress and all-round entertainer Doris Day has passed away at the age of 97. Tributes poured in for her today as fans shared their memories of films like Calamity Jane, Pillow Talk and Move Over, Darling.
Often described as Hollywood's girl next door, Day was a small town girl from Ohio who learned to sing while laid up after a car accident and came to the attention of orchestra leader and promoter Barney Rapp. After shooting to fame with the song Sentimental Journey, she headed out west to perform in the musical Romance On The High Seas. A string of further musicals followed and in 1956 she proved herself as a dramatic actress alongside James Stewart in Alfred Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much. She would go on to star alongside some of the biggest names of the era, including Cary Grant, Rock Hudson, Jams Cagney, David Niven and Clark Gable.
Offscreen she was shy and preferred to avoid the parties around which much of Hollywood life revolved, but she made her voice heard as a passionate supporter of animal rights, founding Actors and Others for Animals, the Doris Day Animal Foundation and the Doris Day Animal League. She was also an early supporter of LGBT rights and helped Rock Hudson to keep his sexuality secret at a time when exposure would have meant the end of his career. Politically she was a committed Republican and was awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom under George W Bush.
Although she struggled in later life when her trademark style went out of fashion, Day continued to make music throughout her life and retained a loyal fan following. She was married four times and had one child, who died in 2004. Her own death was caused by pneumonia.