When we lost Doris Day this year, we lost one of the last remaining stars from Hollywood’s Golden Age.
Ironically, Doris started out to be come a dancer, but an auto accident in 1938 that broke both her legs put an end to that dream. Instead of giving up, Doris moved to singing. At the age of 16, she began touring with Bob Crosby’s big band. That, in turn, led to a successful recording career.
Given her good looks, offers from Hollywood soon followed. First under contract to Warner Brothers she appeared in a string of B-movie musicals and comedies, often cast opposite Jack Carson. She worked her way up the Hollywood star system through the 1950s, eventually landing roles in A-pictures, like Alfred Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much (which also gave her her signature tune, "Que Sera Sera."
But her career really took off when she was cast opposite Rock Hudson in 1959 sex comedy Pillow Talk. Just one year later, she was America’s #1 box office attraction – a position she held for the next 3 years. Her on-screen persona as the perpetual virgin who somehow loses her virginity before the closing credits was a formula she returned to again and again. In a way she personified America’s ambivalence to sex as we moved solidly into the Swingin’ 60s. Raised in a different era, our parents enjoyed sex but didn’t want to admit it to each other. So, Doris could only come across if her male co-star put a ring on it.
Outside of those silly, but enjoyable comedies with Hudson and James Garner, Doris proved she had some acting chops in occasional straight dramatic roles.
If you feel like spending a little time this weekend with America’s Sweetheart, here are a few of her better films:
- Calamity Jane (1953)
- The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)
- Pillow Talk (1959)
- Midnight Lace (1960)
- Lover, Come Back (1961)
- That Touch of Mink (1962)
- Move Over Darling (1963)
- Send Me No Flowers (1964)