Doris Day, the perennial girl-next-door whose career as a singer and actress spanned almost 50 years and made her one of the biggest Hollywood stars and most popular entertainers in the United States has died. She was 97.
The Doris Day Animal Foundation confirmed Day died early Monday at her Carmel Valley, California, home. The foundation says in an emailed statement she was surrounded by close friends and "had been in excellent physical health for her age, until recently contracting a serious case of pneumonia."
She was known for her honey-voiced singer and actress whose film dramas, musicals and innocent sex 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 later in Hollywood.
Despite her seemingly perpetually sunny and smiling exterior, Day's life took a number of tragic turns, including the death of her only child, three divorces and the death of another husband who turned out to have squandered her earnings, leaving her deeply in debt.
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.
"I have the unfortunate reputation of being Miss Goody Two-Shoes, America's Virgin, and all that, so I'm afraid it's going to shock some people for me to say this, but I staunchly believe no two people should get married until they have lived together," she wrote.
In later years, she lived quietly near Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, where she was an animal welfare activist and founded the Doris Day Animal Foundation.
At one point she had 30 dogs living in their own area of her house but by April 2012, was down to six dogs and four cats.
Day was associated with any number of recordings, but her most famous and signature song was "Que Sera Sera" ("Whatever Will Be, Will Be") from Alfred Hitchcock's 1956 film "The Man Who Knew Too Much."
In a 2012 interview with NPR, Day admitted her initial reaction was "I didn't think it was a good song." But when it became wildly popular, she said, "I realized maybe it isn't a favorite song of mine but people loved it. And kids loved it. And it was perfect for the film, So I can't say it's a favorite song of mine, but boy, it sure did something."
Among her other well-known songs were "Secret Love" and "Everybody Loves a Lover." In movies, Day was Hollywood's quintessential "girl next door," with a sometimes sophisticated edge. Her leading men included Rock Hudson, Cary Grant, David Niven, Rex Harrison and James Garner.
In fact, such was her wholesome image, entertainer Oscar Levant, famed for his mordant wit, once said, "I knew Doris Day before she became a virgin."
Among her most popular films were three romantic comedies she did with Hudson: "Pillow Talk" (1959), which brought her an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress, "Lover Come Back" (1961) and "Send Me No Flowers" (1964).
She also starred in several beloved musicals, including 1953's "Calamity Jane" and 1957's "The Pajama Game" as well as comedies like 1960's "Please Don't Eat the Daisies" and the drama "Midnight Lace," also from 1960.