Hollywood icon Doris Day dead at 97

Actress Doris Day is seen in a screen shot from the film

Doris Day sings for Columbia Records in 1970.

'My public image is unshakably that of America's wholesome virgin, the girl next door, carefree and brimming with happiness.

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 chose to become an entertainer".

She wouldn't appear on TV again until her short-lived talk show Doris Day's Best Friends in 1985.

The actress's sunny personality belied a tumultuous personal life.

Over time, she became more than a name above the title.

Day's son Terry, who ended up taking the last name of her third husband, became a successful songwriter and record producer in his own right, working with such musicians as The Beach Boys.

She also suffered a mental breakdown and had severe financial trouble after one husband squandered her money.

She was born Doris Mary Ann von Kappelhoff on April 3, 1922, in Cincinnati. Though she initially wanted to become a dancer, she had to abandon the dream after an accident, according to BBC. During a long convalescence, she immersed herself in the big-band sounds of Tommy Dorsey and the vocals of Ella Fitzgerald.




In the 1970s, she turned away from performing to focus her energies on her animal foundation.

You can nearly hear Day swoon in this romantic cover of the Frank Sinatra standard, recorded in 1962 with pianist Andre Previn.

'But I never did like it.

"I hope that Doris Day Way inspires many happy memories for everyone who visits", Day says in the recording. "I don't think anybody would have believed me if I had been cast in the role of the mistress whore Mildred in 'Of Human Bondage'".

She was awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008, and during her lifetime, three of her songs - "Sentimental Journey", "Secret Love" and "Que Sera Sera" - were inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Day was also an advocate for animal welfare and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2004 for her entertainment and humanitarian work. Doris is well-known for her film roles, but actually began her career behind a microphone. Her early peak came in the 1953 Western musical 'Calamity Jane'. Day does sing it to a child in Alfred Hitchcock's 1956 The Man Who Knew Too Much.

As it turned out, Day lived for the moment always.

Doris Day, whose career spanned radio, film, TV and, perhaps most famously, the beloved sweetly innocent "sex comedies" of the 1960s, most notably with costar and friend Rock Hudson, died today. Day understood that too, although she never tried to exploit it either. She was a true star in more ways than one.

She later found success with "Someone Like You", which featured in My Dream Is Yours, the box-office hit, I'll See You In My Dreams, and Lucky Me, starring alongside Frank Sinatra. 'I realized it was an effective part. but it offended my sense of values'.

And so it was just this enormously loving relationship, which was more hard when she was at the height of her Hollywood career because she wasn't there all the time.

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