Hollywood legend Doris Day dies aged 97 | News | DW | 13.05.2019
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Hollywood legend Doris Day dies aged 97

Doris Day, the renowned Hollywood actress and singer, has died at her California home aged 97. Known for her singing and many film roles in the 1950s and '60s, Day is also remembered for her animal welfare work.

American actress and singer Doris Day died Monday at age 97, her charity foundation said in a statement.

The Doris Day Animal Foundation said Day, who had suffered a bout of pneumonia, died in the early hours of the morning at her California home, surrounded by close friends.

Day's film dramas and musicals made her one of the most successful actresses of the 1950s and '60s and cemented her place as one of the most popular screen actresses in history.

Known for her films such as Pillow Talk and Love Me Or Leave Me, she's arguably most associated with the song "Que Sera Sera" ("Whatever will be, will be"), which was introduced in the 1956 Alfred Hitchcock film The Man Who Knew Too Much, starring Day and James Stewart in the lead roles.

From dancing to singing

Born Doris von Kappelhoff on April 3, 1922, in Cincinnati, Day headed to California at age 14 to be a dancer, but abandoned that dream after breaking her right leg in a car accident.

She then focused on singing and at 16 found a job with Les Brown, one of the top orchestra leaders of the day, and recorded her first hit, "Sentimental Journey," with him.

She changed her surname at the suggestion of a band leader who heard her sing "Day by Day."

Day's movie debut, Romance on the High Seas in 1948, was a hit, at least in part because of Day and the Oscar-nominated song she sang in it, "It's Magic."

A number of musicals followed with Day often playing a singer trying to break into the entertainment world. Some of the most memorable include My Dream Is Yours in 1949, It's a Great Feeling in 1949 and Tea for Two in 1950.

In 1953, she landed the title role in Calamity Jane, and her success continued in 1955 when she worked with Frank Sinatra for the musical Young at Heart and with James Cagney for the drama Love Me or Leave Me

Day returned to light comedy in 1957 with The Pajama Game and two years later starred with Rock Hudson in Pillow Talk, her most popular movie, for which she got an Oscar nomination.

In the 1970s she turned her attention to animal welfare work, which would occupy the rest of her life.

Life off the screen

Day's life was not always as bright as it appeared on screen. She married four times, was divorced three times and widowed once, suffered a nervous breakdown and had severe financial trouble after one husband squandered her money.

"My public image is unshakably that of America's wholesome virgin, the girl next door, carefree and brimming with happiness," she said in a memoir, "an image, I can assure you, more make-believe than any film part I ever played. But I am Miss Chastity Belt and that's all there is to it."

law/msh (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

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