Happy Birthday, Doris!
Today is the 90th birthday of one of my favorite actresses, the lovely Ms. Doris Day. (It’s really her 92nd, but she says 90th, so just go with it.) From the first moment I saw Doris, I knew she was great. No, make that incredible. I’m not going to recount her life story, review her films, or anything like that. Instead, I’d like to tell you all what Doris means to me. Katharine Hepburn may be my number one, but sometimes, Doris gives her a run for her money. (Yep, you read that right.)
I don’t remember my first Doris Day film. Or the first time I heard that beautiful voice of hers. I knew who she was—if you said her name five years ago, before I became a die-hard classic film fan, I could’ve told you who she was. At that point, she was a singer from a long time ago who for some reason was considered supremely outdated. But then I slowly started to delve into her work. Piece by piece, I was learning more and more. Suddenly, I knew a whole lot about Doris, and my past ignorance about who she really was struck me as extremely embarrassing. How did this incredibly stylish, funny, and gorgeous woman get such an incorrect reputation?
Unfortunately, time hasn’t been kind to Doris’s image, being labeled as a kind of virgin queen who belonged to the Victorian age, which doesn’t even come close to the true Doris. I found her to be the complete opposite of what people were claiming. She’s a great comedienne, a fantastic actress, a great dancer, and good lord, can we talk about that voice?! It’s clear, but with a slight vibrato, and she gives the lyrics such an emotional charge. Oh, I’m a fan.
The most important thing to me, though, was that Doris projected strength, intelligence, kindness, and a great sense of humor. She’s never mean, but she likes to have a good laugh. And sure, some of her characters have been clumsy—but aren’t we all? That doesn’t mean that we’re airheads, it just means we’re human. Doris has such warmth. And her work for animals is awesome. She’s so committed to helping them, which just makes me a bigger fan.
I thought I’d end this post with a small questionnaire that I’ll answer, and you guys can feel free to answer it yourself in the comments.
Favorite Doris film? This is a tough one, but I’d say PILLOW TALK. It’s hilarious, sophisticated, the chemistry between Doris and Rock is amazing, and Tony Randall is just one of the best supporting actors to me.
Favorite moment in any of her movies? Probably her breakdown scene in THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH. That sounds a little weird, but it’s always one of the reasons why I watch the movie. It’s touching, heartbreaking, and so convincing. Definitely one of her best moments.
Favorite song from one of her films? I love the soundtrack from LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME, but my favorite might just be “It All Depends on You”. It’s just the piano and Doris, and it’s lovely. Either that or the theme song from PILLOW TALK. That’s a seriously catchy song and it sold me on the film instantly.
Order of favorite Doris/Rock films? The order they came out: PILLOW TALK, LOVER COME BACK, SEND ME NO FLOWERS.
‘40s, ‘50s, or ‘60s Doris? Definitely ‘50s. You’ve got her Hitchcock film, her first romantic comedy with Rock, her stellar performance as Ruth Etting, her personal favorite CALAMITY JANE, YOUNG MAN WITH A HORN, the cute ON MOONLIGHT BAY series, the underrated THE PAJAMA GAME…it’s all so good.
Movie of hers that you most want to see but haven’t yet? I’m bound and determined to see YOUNG AT HEART, with Frank Sinatra. I’ve heard mixed reviews on it, but I’ve just got to see it for myself. I also think JULIE would be interesting, if only to stare at Louis Jourdan. (You know what I’m talking about.)
And finally, I’ll leave you with a few links also related to Ms. Day:
Unpublished LIFE photos: http://life.time.com/icons/doris-day-rare-early-photos-of-a-singing-and-acting-superstar/#1
Good article on TCM’s excellent blog: http://moviemorlocks.com/2014/04/03/happy-birthday-doris/
Recent phone interview between Robert Osborne and Doris: http://www.tcm.com/mediaroom/video/966042/Robert-Osborne-Interviews-Doris-Day-TCM-Original-.html
Fantastic article about the Doris/Rock romantic comedies (although I totally disagree with his judgment of Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy’s films): http://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/classic/features/lovers-come-back-200004