Happy Birthday, Doris Day!
I am postponing my first April Star of the Month post until next week because…
TODAY IS DORIS DAY’S BIRTHDAY!!!!!
I cannot let the birthday of my favorite star/one of my most favorite people on the planet go by without saying a few words. Or maybe a lot of words…
Ms Day turns 97 years old today. Wow!
During her career, Doris went from popular big band singer to instant movie star after her FIRST film role—how often does that happen (???????)—to starring in the beloved Doris Day Show on television, with a five season run no less! Along the way, she made more than 650 recordings as a solo artist, and was consistently among the top ten box office stars throughout her career. Frequently she was number ONE at the box office. Her box office records and popularity have yet to be beat today.
Doris left Hollywood and settled in beautiful Carmel-by-the-Sea in 1981. Animals have been her great passion from the beginning, and throughout her career Doris was passionate about educating and encouraging the world to care about animals, always in her sunshine-y, Doris Day way. Since her retirement, Doris has dedicated all of her time to helping our four legged friends. The Doris Day Animal Foundation (DDAF) is her grant giving, non-profit foundation that provides funding to worthy, like-minded animal rights, education, care, and rehabilitation programs/organizations throughout the country.
Doris has brought sunshine, love, and hope to millions—humans and non-humans alike! Every year, fans flock to Doris’ beloved Carmel-by-the-Sea to celebrate her birthday with a weekend full of festivities, graciously organized by the warm and friendly folks at DDAF and countless volunteers.
Andrew and I have been lucky enough to attend Doris’ birthday weekend celebration for the last three years now. Our dream is to attend every year, it is just such a fantastic experience! And even better: DDAF grants proceeds from the weekend to organizations that help our four legged friends.
We just returned from Doris’ 2019 birthday bash on Monday! As usual, it was AMAZING. There are countless reasons why this is the weekend I look forward to every year, and I will go into all of that in another post or two, and share all of the fun event details and my awe at the celebrity guests. For now, I want to wrap up my birthday tribute to Ms Day with why she is so incredibly special to me, and what she has meant to me and my family through the years.
I remember the first time I saw Ms Day. I was nine years old, watching TV, and an ad for a Warner Brothers Doris Day VHS film collection came on the screen. (Ah, the good old days of VHS tapes!) The ad started with a slow motion dance sequence of a beautiful blonde, a vision in a yellow gown, dancing gracefully and effortlessly with her dashing partner.
I sat, transfixed as the ad continued to play, and came to find out that the enchanting blonde with the infectious smile was Doris Day. I was an immediate fan.
I don’t know many third graders who opted to read Doris’ autobiography for fun, or who, in fifth grade, when most kids were reading Goosebumps and Harry Potter, chose to do their final, big book report Float project on Doris Day: Her Own Story. But that kid was ME! (I also don’t know many kids who had a mom willing to search with them for a platinum blonde Barbie doll, and a red and white striped dress with a baby blue coat for said Barbie doll to wear, reminiscent of Doris’ opening scene dress in Lucky Me (1954). There can’t be many moms who would do that, and then proceed to help cut the Barbie doll’s hair into a fashionable Doris bob, and then help make a miniature float for the doll to stand on in order to meet the requirements of the fifth grade book report. Thanks Mom! I still remember, and I still appreciate your support of my niche interests at such a young age.)
Doris has always been there for me, like the friend who always gives good advice, who leads by noble example and her own experience. As a teenager, when I broke my tibial sesamoid and was unable to dance until the bone mended, I thought of teenage Doris with her broken leg, and how she decided to make the best of her situation and found her singing talent along the way. As a university student and then at my first job, not so happy at an investment firm, learning to deal with the ups and downs of being an independent adult, I though of Doris, and how she had dealt with much greater difficulties in her adult years—an abusive husband, the early death of her brother, less than altruistic studio executives, and the swindling and squandering of her earnings by her third husband and his shady business partner. And through it all, Doris somehow managed to stay positive about the world, keeping a genuine smile on her face and joy in her heart. Surely if Doris can remain positive and kind through it all, I can. I always seem to come back to that mantra when faced with a new problem or struggle in my life.
I have written to Doris a few times through the years (yep, when it comes to Ms Day, I literally can’t help myself). The first time I wrote her I was in fifth grade, although I am pretty sure that I had no idea where to send my letter. So unless the mail man is magic, she probably never got that one…but every letter I have written her as a teenager/adult capable of properly addressing and stamping an envelope, SHE HAS WRITTEN BACK. I cannot tell you how surreal that experience is, to know that this amazing woman I feel somehow connected to through her films and music, is aware that I, well, exist. And she cares enough to respond. Doris may not know me by face or name, but I treasure the thought that she has read my heartfelt words to her, and knows how much she means to me personally.
I’ve experienced a bit of Que Sera Sera myself, for now I have a child of my own, and she asks her mother questions all day long. (MJ is a three year old, after all.) I am so happy that Mary Jeanne already follows in my Doris-loving footsteps. She often asks me if we can “watch Doris,” Lullaby of Broadway, By the Light of the Silvery Moon, and Calamity Jane being Mimi’s particular favorite Doris films. It makes my day when she starts tap dancing on our small patch of wood floor and exclaims, “Look what I can do! I am Doris!” And I find myself getting emotional when a Doris song plays on Pandora and Mar excitedly recognizes the voice: “It’s Doris!”
You can imagine the joy that filled me from head to toe when, after writing Doris a letter last year before her birthday bash, I received back from her two personalized and signed photos, one to me and one to Mimi. I count these photos among our most treasured possessions, and I know that Mary Jeanne will soon feel the same way.
So Happy Birthday Doris! I hope you have your best birthday yet, you sure deserve it! Thank you for the continued happiness and light you bring to my life and my home. You have all of my love forever! (: