“I like joy; I want to be joyous; I want to have fun on the set; I want to wear beautiful clothes and look pretty. I want to smile and I want to make people laugh. And that’s all I want. I like it. I like being happy. I want to make others happy.”
– Doris Day –
The story of me and Doris Day is one that I shall always cherish. What I can mainly say is that, from the moment I first heard about her, she only brought me goods in my life. Doris Day is, to me, a synonym of “success” and “optimism”.
Today, the retired actress celebrates her 95th birthday. We were long confused on her birthday date, but it has just been confirmed that the actress was born in 1922 (and not in 1924 like she and most people thought). And we’re glad she’s taking it with humour! And, I have to honour to be born the same day as her (but several years later)! What a luck! Marlon Brando, Jan Sterling, Alec Baldwin and Leslie Howard are also among my birthday twins. My friend Michaela from Love Letters to Old Hollywood is, this weekend, hosting The Doris Day Blogathon in honour of this fabulous actress and singer. I obviously considered necessary to pay her a tribute, explain to you how she became one of my idols.
Before going further, I want to thanks Michaela for hosting this amazing blogathon! You can read the other entries here.
The first time I heard of Doris Day, it was via one of her songs. There was this radio program called “Tout un Cinema”, which unfortunately doesn’t exist anymore. Only film musics were played in this show, so, it obviously was a real treat for cinephiles like me. I remember I was on the road with my cousins and their parents. I had spent a few days with them at their cottage in the country and we were coming back to Montreal. We decided to listen to the program and the animator, Rémy Girard (one of Quebec’s greatest actors) introduced it with a Doris Day’s song: “Oh Me, Oh My!” from the musical Tea for Two. This song is a cute, simple and joyful one. Maybe not the deepest thing Doris ever sang, but it remains a sympathetic one.
And “Oh Me, Oh My” became my first Doris Day’s inspiration. But we’ll come back to that later.
If I heard my first Doris Day’s song in the summer (or was it autumn?), it’s during the following winter vacations that I saw my first Doris Day’s film. This one was The Man Who Knew Too Much, which was part of an Alfred Hitchcock’s DVD Box set I had received for my previous birthday. I knew that Doris was better known for her romantic comedies and her musicals, so this suspense was an unusual one. Well, Doris Day proved to be a brilliant actress. The Man Who Knew Too Much reveals her capacity to play drama and, introduces her most well-known song: Que Sera Sera (unfortunately, too many people don’t know that this song was first written for an Alfred Hitchcock’s film). This scene where she [spoiler alert] learns that her son has been kidnapped always breaks my heart. 😦 Anyway, as I’ve probably mentioned it before, this film became my favourite Hitchcock’s film, my mother’s too (well, I think. Anyway, she loves Que Sera Sera) and it encouraged my sister to see more films by the master. This is, of course, not only due to Doris Day’s convincing performance and lovely singing voice, but also to the excellent suspense, and Day’s brilliant co-star, the one and only James Stewart.
But let’s come back to “Oh Me, Oh My!” I’ve previously told you that this song inspired me. How? Well, after these winter vacations, I had a class in CEGEP to develop our creativity. For our final project, we had a very vague theme imposed to us and we had to use it for a personal creation. It could be anything we wanted. At the time, the song was always stuck in my head, so I used it to write a play! This one was a one-act comedy entitled “Oh Me!” and was the story of a girl who decides to learn the song for a “Sing Doris Day contest”. However, she decides to learn it word by word, so the process isn’t going very fast (and the irony is that it is a pretty easy song). I was surprised to see that people loved the play and I succeed with a pretty good note (don’t remember the exact result, but it was over 90%). This is one of the factors that encouraged me to study screen writing!
I also had to see more Doris Day films and listen to her music. So, I didn’t make long to buy some of her CDs and films. In cinema, her presence never failed to illuminate the screen. Her films are the feel-good movies by excellence (my favourite example being Romance on the High Seas). She was a true star and she was rarely overshadowed by other actors or actresses. She could play comedy and drama both in excellent ways. The chemistry she had with other actors is one that inspires nothing else than true friendship (we can think of Rock Hudson)! Her dynamism and joie de vivre never fail to make me smile and say: “I want more Doris Day!” And, even if the film isn’t excellent (Please, Don’t Eat the Daisies), there would be at least one positive element about it, and that’s Doris! It’s too bad that Mrs. Day is in this category of the too underrated actresses like Marilyn Monroe. Yes, she received an Oscar nomination, but I think her acting skills deserved much more credit than they received. I read this interesting article about Doris in a Photoplay magazine where she is quoted saying: “I want all my pictures to be entertainment and I’ll never talk about art or doing anything “different” and “serious”. I hope my pictures can make people forget their troubles and start dreaming wonderfully.” We can’t think indeed of a better form of entertainment than bright Technicolour musicals. However, when Doris Day said that, she was quite at the beginning of her career and we know that she did play in more serious pictures and proved to be excellent in all forms of entertainment. Whatever if she wants it or not, she’ll always be a highly celebrated ARTIST.
Doris Day the Singer is the one I discovered first. I’ve listened to some of her songs very often and now can easily sing them! Her voice is a lovely one and matches her personality perfectly. I remember, one day, I was dining with my father and we were listening to one of my Doris Day’s CDs and when “Love Me or Leave Me” started playing, my father exclaimed “That is Doris Day? My God! It’s so great!” Well, not exactly in these words, but something like this. And I’m fortunate to have her as one of my very favourite singers, because my parents also like to listen to her during supper 😉 (Madonna and Debbie Harry are less suitable for a quiet family supper). It’s the kind of music that you can enjoy while doing various activities. Doris Day’s life objective is to make us smile and make our lives better. We feel that she transmits all her love to us via her songs (and her films). As I often said, Doris Day’s music is the best cure when one has the blues. If I have a down, I can always get over it with a song like “It’s a Great Feeling” or “There’s a Bluebird on your Windowsill”!
What I also admire about Doris Day is her courage. We know that, despite being a very cheerful person, she didn’t always have it easy. As I read in the Photoplay article, her rise to stardom was a difficult one, and her four weddings were unfortunately far from being perfect. But, Doris managed to always give us a smile and see the brighter sides of life. She’s a true inspiration.
Last time Doris Day gave me success was this semester. I was doing a team oral presentation about American female stars of the 50s and I talked about Doris Day. We got an A! How awesome! I tell you, she is my lucky charm!
Before living you, it’s top list time!
First, here are my 5 most favourite films (I would have like to do a top 10, but, unfortunately, I’ve just seen 9 of her films. I know, I know, I need to see more! I think I’m more familiar with Doris-the-Singer!)
An honourable mention to Love Me or Leave Me, in which she gives a marvellous dramatic performance and sings some of her best songs!
And now, here are my heum.. 25 most favourite Doris Day’s songs. Sorry, but I can’t limit myself to a smaller number. I love too many of them! The top is not in a particular order, because I find it more difficult to rank songs than films! But #1 IS my #1!
#1 Favourite: Sugarbush (What an excellent song to cheer you up! “Sugarbush I love you so!” 🙂 )
If I Were a Bell
Lullaby of Broadway
It’s a Great Feeling
There’s a Bluebird on Your Windowsill
A Guy is a Guy
I Can’t Give You Anything But Love Baby
Oh Me! Oh My!
Tea for Two
On Moonlight Bay
By the Light of the Silvery Moon
Love Me or Leave Me
Shaking the Blues Away
Que Sera Sera
I’m in Love
Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps
Doris Day will never stop to make my life better. She will always be remembered for her brilliant acting/singing career, but also for her appreciated involvement in animal rights. Today, she lives in Carmel-by-the-Sea and she is the most lovely 95 years old lady of California!