Day’s Long Journey Into Night

This morning many of us no doubt awoke to the news that a celebrity died whom we didn’t even know was still living. Actress and singer Doris Day, whose career overlapped almost precisely with the Ivy heyday, has died at the age of 97.

I began watching classic movies in my early twenties, and it didn’t take long for a Generation Xer to come upon the work of Doris Day, who starred opposite such menswear icons as Cary Grant and David Niven. I always had a rather allergic reaction to her, but I happened to rewatch one of her classics just a couple of weeks ago. There’s a TV station you can pick up with an antenna called Movies TV Network, which runs old films just like AMC and Turner Classic Movies did back in the ’90s when I first discovered Day and the other screen icons of the studio years. It was “That Touch Of Mink” with Grant, and in the end Day’s sweetness wins you over, like a dessert you can’t refuse.

Day’s screen persona came to exemplify the postwar era’s ambivalent attitude towards sexual liberation. Well into her thirties she was repeatedly cast as a “virgin” torn between catching a husband the old-fashioned way, or giving in to natural urges and experienced seducers. The recurring motif of these films led Oscar Levant to quip, “I knew Doris Day before she was a virgin.”

Day began her career as a singer at the end of the big band era, and so for a clip I’ll include one of her early songs (the charming “Amapola”) rather than one of her later film trailers. (This will also restore balance to the hip-square universe after our previous post, on the Modern Jazz Quartet.) The image at top, by the way, I chose for showing one of her charcoal-suited costars in a very ’60s office, in this case James Garner from “Move Over Darling.”

Good night, Ms. Day, and may you rest in peace. — CC

8 Comments on "Day’s Long Journey Into Night"

  1. Carmelo Pugliatti | May 13, 2019 at 11:12 am |

    Beautiful woman,fine singer,good comedian.
    I like her movies.

  2. Charlottesville | May 13, 2019 at 12:51 pm |

    My wife and I recently watched Send Me No Flowers from 1964, the last of her films with Rock Hudson and Tony Randall. Great clothes and cars and, in this one, she and Rock were already married. Requiescat in pace, Ms. Day.

  3. Evan Everhart | May 13, 2019 at 1:28 pm |

    A bright smile, a contagious laugh, a beautiful voice, and a very warm heart.

    You will be sorely missed, Ms. Day, but you will never be forgotten.

    Fare thee well on yr final journey, home.

  4. Vern Trotter | May 13, 2019 at 6:20 pm |

    Every Sunday, a sports reporter for the New York Post, interviews a sports personage and towards the end of maybe two dozen questions asks, “throughout history, name three dinner guests you would like to invite.” I often ask this of people I am just meeting at drinks parties, political functions and so forth. Their answer usually tells me all I need to know about that person, positive or negative. I feel like I asked Miss Day this decades ago and have enjoyed her answers ever since.

    The girl next door, Doris Day, will be remembered as long as we have movies.

  5. Jeffrey S. Haber | May 13, 2019 at 7:48 pm |

    I always admired Doris Day’s vibrant performance as Prohibition-Era singer Ruth Etting in that great film, “Love Me or Leave Me” from 1955. Doris Day and her co-star James Cagney are both sensational as they truly deliver in this film classic. Doris Day was truly a great talent!

  6. Clark Sharpton | May 14, 2019 at 6:00 am |
  7. Clark,

    Damn, what a sexy voice. Tha ks for sharing.


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