The release of Quentin Tarantino’s film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (still in theaters), has transported his audience back to a time almost forgotten. When I think of the post-WWII 1940s to the pre-Vietnam early 60s, I think of innocence. Naivete. Virtue. I’m not saying all happenings during this period were sunshiny and sweet. After-all this is a period before Civil Rights. Women’s Rights. Gay Rights.
But, stereo-typically, we think of the goodness of this era. And no one summed up that goodness more than Doris Day.
Known originally as a singer who sang with Les Brown (and His Band of Renown), she moved seamlessly into movies during the height of the movie musicals of the late 1940s. She made a lot of movies that forced her into a virginal, all-American, homespun mold.
As an actress, a lot of people discounted her, both critics and audiences alike. She was too goody-goody. Too perfect. Try as she might with hard dramas (some of which she sang in, some not), she never was able to wipe away that squeaky-clean image.
Day’s real life mirrored very little of her on-screen happy-go-lucky life. She had four failed marriages, the third of which was to Martin Melcher, who embezzled her money and left her in serious debt. Melcher also committed her to do a television series without her knowledge, which came to light after Melcher’s death in 1968.
Terry, her only child (from her first marriage), became embroiled in the Charles Manson case in the late 1960s. There is some speculation that Terry was the target of the Manson Family murders of actress Sharon Tate and others at Terry’s former Benedict Canyon home, which he sold to Tate and her husband director Roman Polanski. Terry, a music producer, considered producing some of Manson’s music, but changed his mind, which did not sit well with Manson. Manson met with Terry at the Benedict Canyon home several times. Some accounts claim Manson thought Terry still lived there at the time of the murders. The Manson murders are back in the spotlight again with the upcoming release of Quentin Tarantino’s film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, starring Margot Robbie as Tate.
The ultimate heartbreak for Day came in 2004 when Terry died of melanoma.
On a personal note, I remember the first movie I saw Doris Day in: the 1956 version of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much. An unconventional Day film for many reasons…mostly because it’s far from light fare. But, the point of me telling this is how moved I became when she sang the film’s only song (which would become her trademark tune) “Que Sera Sera.” There was something hauntingly other worldly to her voice.
Day passed away at the age of 97 in May.
Visit the library catalog to find Doris Day CDs, movies and books.