Doris Day

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Doris Day in the movie Midnight Peaks (1960)

Doris Day (* 3. April 1922 as Doris Mary Ann Kappelhoff in Cincinnati , Ohio ; † 13. May 2019 in Carmel Valley Village, Monterey County , California ) was an American actress and singer .

Day initially performed successfully as a singer in various big bands . From 1947 she was under contract with the Warner Brothers film studio , where she was mainly seen in musicals . After that, it was mainly romantic and family-friendly comedies, especially with her film partner Rock Hudson , which significantly shaped her image as a “clean woman” and with which she was one of the most popular and commercially successful Hollywood stars in the 1950s and 1960s. Since the end of her film career, Doris Day has increasingly campaigned for animal welfare, for which she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2004.


Childhood and adolescence until 1939

Doris Mary Ann Kappelhoff was the third child of the music teacher William Kappelhoff (1892-1967) and his wife Alma Sophia Welz (1895-1976). Both parents were born in Cincinnati as children of German immigrants. The roots of her family lead on the paternal side to the Westphalian town of Füchtorf near Warendorf and to Glandorf in Hanover at that time ( Osnabrück office ), on the mother's side to Ötigheim in Baden ( Oberamt Rastatt ) and to Mückenloch (now in Neckargemünd ). The young Doris originally wanted to be a dancer , but could not realize her dream because she broke her leg in a car accident at the age of 14.

Singing career (1939–1947)

Doris Day at the Aquarium Jazz Club, New York, photo by William P. Gottlieb , 1946

Day had performed on the radio and in nightclubs before working as a singer in the bands of Bob Crosby and Les Brown . She had her breakthrough in 1945 with the number one hit Sentimental Journey , which was followed by another hit with My Dreams Are Getting Better All the Time . Her employer, the night club owner and band leader Barney Rapp , gave her the stage name "Doris Day" after the song Day by Day . She then worked for various radio shows with Frank Sinatra , Bob Hope and Dinah Shore , among others . In 1947 she signed a seven-year film contract with Warner Brothers.

Their first marriage to trombonist Al Jordan lasted from 1941 to 1943. Their son Terry was born in February 1942. In 1946 she married the saxophonist George Weidler, but this marriage, too, was divorced after a short time.

Film contract with Warner Brothers (1947–1955)

Doris Day around 1953

Her first film, Magic Nights in Rio , directed by Michael Curtiz , hit theaters in 1948. He gave her her third number one hit, It's Magic . In predominantly cheerful film musicals such as Bewitching Woman (1950), Romance with Obstacles or In All My Dreams You're (both 1951), which mainly asked about her talent as a singer and comedian, Day was mostly the leading lady , less often in an ensemble or Supporting role used. She took on less serious roles in films such as The Man of Her Dreams (1950) alongside Kirk Douglas and Lauren Bacall or The Prisoner of the Ku Klux Klan (1951) alongside Ronald Reagan and Ginger Rogers . Her recurring film partners include Jack Carson and Gordon MacRae . In 1951 she married the producer Martin Melcher , with whom she was married until his death in 1968.

She celebrated the greatest success of that time in 1953 alongside Howard Keel with the Western musical Heavy Colts in Tender Hands , which can be considered a very free film adaptation of the life of the Wild West heroine Calamity Jane . With the song Secret Love from this film, which won an Oscar for Best Film Song in 1954 , she had her fifth and final number one hit after the duet Love Somebody with Buddy Clark and A Guy Is a Guy . 1955 came with Man shall not play with love, in which she appeared as Frank Sinatra's partner, her last contract film for Warner in the cinema.

After the film contract (1955–1959)

When Doris Day was able to choose her film roles herself, she decided on Tyrannische Liebe (1955), a work that portrayed the tragic life story of the singer Ruth Etting and was awarded an Oscar. She then appeared with James Stewart in the Alfred Hitchcock thriller The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) and made the film song Que Sera, Sera (Oscar-winning) her signature tune.

After she had only released the soundtracks of her musicals as albums with a few exceptions since her contract with Warner Brothers was in existence, she recorded a number of her own studio albums from the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s. In 1957 she extended her recording contract with Columbia Records for the then record sum of one million US dollars for another ten years. After The Man Who Knew Too Much followed mostly harmless comedies like Teacher's Pet with Clark Gable , The Tunnel of Love with Richard Widmark (both 1958) and It Happened to Jane (1959) with Jack Lemmon , who had rather limited success, however.

International film career (1959–1965)

Doris Day celebrated her final breakthrough as a box-office film star in 1959 at the side of Rock Hudson with the film Bed Whispers , for which she received her first and only Oscar nomination. With Hudson she shot the very successful sequels Ein Pajama für Zwei (1961) and Schick mir keine Blumen (1964). Day remained one of the most popular actresses in the United States for several years in commercially successful comedies such as A Touch of Mink (1962, awarded the Golden Globe for best comedy) alongside Cary Grant or What This Woman Does and One Too Many In Bed (both 1963) with James Garner . Her last serious role was in 1960 in the psychological thriller Mitternachtsspitzen , her last musical role in 1962 in Spiel mit mir . While an actress like Marilyn Monroe had the reputation of a "sex goddess" by overemphasizing her erotic attraction, Doris Day cultivated a completely opposite image and embodied women who were unswerving in their modesty. This also earned the actress ridicule. Both her former screen partner Oscar Levant and Groucho Marx were given the bon mot "I knew Doris Day before she became a virgin".

Declining film success and television career (1965–1973)

From the mid-1960s, Days' films and representations were increasingly criticized as untrustworthy. The tastes of the cinema audience changed significantly; established genres such as westerns, musicals or monumental films felt it was out of date. The romantic comedies in which Doris Day was usually seen were also no longer considered contemporary. Comedians and critics called Day the "oldest virgin in the world". While all of her films, with the exception of The Devil's Wife of Texas (1967), generated revenue above production costs, they were nowhere near the box office results of their first two films with Rock Hudson or A Touch of Mink. Doris Day was also offered the role of Mrs. Robinson in The Graduation Examination (1967), which she declined for personal reasons, thus preventing a possible change of image.

After the death of her husband Martin Melcher in 1968, who had a decisive influence on her career as a manager, Day no longer took on film roles. Melcher or her investment advisor Jerry Rosenthal had speculated on their fortune. Day was in debt and contracted to a television series. After a lengthy court case, Jerry Rosenthal was obliged to pay $ 22 million in the first instance; after an appeal, Day received $ 10 million in settlement. From 1968 to 1973 she directed the successful sitcom The Doris Day Show for television . With 20 million viewers a week, it was one of the top 30 shows for the first four of a total of five years. Her son Terry Melcher , who had made a name for himself as a music producer , was also involved in the production .

Retreat into private life

Doris Days Hotel Cypress Inn at Carmel-by-the-Sea

After two more television specials in the mid-1970s, Doris Day withdrew from the public. Her fourth marriage, which she had to Barry Comden in 1976, ended in divorce in 1981. Day was devoted to animal welfare. Your Doris Day Animal League foundation works for abandoned animals, especially dogs. In 1985/1986 she returned to television and made love and suffering of animals the subject of her talk show Doris Day's Best Friends, in which she also welcomed Rock Hudson, who was already terminally ill from AIDS, as a guest. In 1989 she received the Cecil B. DeMille Award from the Foreign Press Association in Hollywood for Lifetime Achievement. Day retired again into private life and ran a small hotel called Cypress Inn in Carmel-by-the-Sea with her son Terry and her business partner Dennis LeVette . Terry died of skin cancer on November 19, 2004. His son Ryan Melcher, Doris Day's only grandchild, grew up in Carmel, where he lives and works to this day.

She called herself "Carla Kappelhoff" at an advanced age. Doris Day only rarely made public appearances in the last three decades of her life, mostly to her fan base on her birthday, but occasionally gave interviews, for example on the occasion of her 90th and most recently on the occasion of her 97th birthday.

Short musical comeback (2011)

In 2011 her album My Heart was released . It was produced by Bruce Johnston , who also co-wrote three of the songs with Terry Melcher . The album entered the UK Top 10 Album Charts straight away . Doris Day made it into the English hit list as the second oldest artist after Vera Lynn , who came to number 1 on the British album charts in 2009 and was the oldest living singer in the top 10 at the age of 92.


Doris Day died on May 13, 2019, six weeks after her 97th birthday, at her home in Carmel Valley Village of complications from pneumonia .



Television broadcasts

  • 1968–1973: The Doris Day Show (sitcom)
  • 1971: The Doris Mary Anne Kappelhoff Special
  • 1975: Doris Day Today
  • 1985–1986: Doris Day's Best Friends (talk show)
  • 1991: Doris Day: A Sentimental Journey


The standard speaker in almost all German-language versions of the text was Edith Schneider .

honors and awards


  • nomination
    • 1960: Best leading actress in bed talk

Day never won an Oscar in the course of her career. However, she was offered several times to be awarded an honorary Oscar , which she always refused.

Golden Apple Award

  • 1954: Sour Apple as the most uncooperative actress
  • 1962: Sour Apple as the most uncooperative actress
  • 1964: Sour Apple as the most uncooperative actress

Golden Globe Award

  • Awards
    • 1958: Most popular film actress in the world
    • 1960: Most popular film actress in the world
    • 1963: Most popular film actress in the world
    • 1989: Cecil B. DeMille Award for Lifetime Achievement
  • Nominations
    • 1955: Most popular film actress in the world
    • 1959: Best Actress - Comedy or Musical (babies made to order)
    • 1960: Best Actress - Comedy or Musical (bed whispers)
    • 1961: Best Actress - Drama (Midnight Peaks)
    • 1963: Best Actress - Comedy or Musical (Play with Me)
    • 1964: Best Actress - Comedy or Musical (One Too Many in Bed)
    • 1966: Most popular film actress in the world
    • 1969: Best female television star (Doris Day in ...)

Grammy Awards

  • Award
  • Nominations
    • 1959: Best female vocal performance (Everybody Loves a Lover)
    • 1961: Best female vocal performance (The Sound of Music)

Hollywood Walk of Fame

Photoplay Award

  • 1951: Favorite female star
  • 1959: Favorite female star

Laurel Award

  • Awards
    • 1958: Female top star
    • 1959: Female top star
    • 1960: Best Actress in a Comedy (Bed Whispers)
    • 1960: Female top star
    • 1961: Female top star
    • 1962: Best Actress in a Comedy (One Pajama for Two)
    • 1962: Female top star
    • 1963: Best Actress in a Comedy (A Touch of Mink)
    • 1963: Female top star
    • 1964: Female top star
    • 1965: Best Actress in a Comedy (Don't Send Me Flowers)
  • Nominations
    • 1959: Best Actress in a Comedy ( Babies Made to Order, 3rd Place)
    • 1961: Best Actress in a Drama ( Mitternachtsspitzen, 4th place)
    • 1965: Female top star (4th place)
    • 1966: Female top star (5th place)
    • 1967: Best Actress in a Comedy ( Spy in Lace Panties, 2nd place)
    • 1967: Female top star (8th place)
    • 1968: Best Actress in a Comedy ( When the lights went out, 5th place)
    • 1968: Female top star (14th place)
    • 1970: Best Actress in a Comedy ( The Man in Mammi's Bed, 3rd place)

Bravo Otto

  • Awards
  • Nominations among others
    • 1968: Most popular film actress (19th place)
    • 1970: Most popular film actress (8th place)
    • 1971: Most popular TV actress (11th place)
    • 1972: Most popular television actress (8th place)
    • 1980: Most popular film actress (5th place)
    • 1983: Most popular film actress (10th place)

Further awards



year title Top ranking, total weeks, awardChart placementsChart placements
(Year, title, rankings, weeks, awards, notes)
1949 You're my thrill - - - - US5 (8 weeks)
1950 Young Man with a Horn - - - - US1 (50 weeks)
Tea for Two - - - - US3 (19 weeks)
1951 Lullaby of Broadway - - - - US1 (24 weeks)
On Moonlight Bay - - - - US2 (21 weeks)
1952 I'll See You in My Dreams - - - - US1 (24 weeks)
1953 By the Light of the Silvery Moon - - - - US3 (17 weeks)
Calamity Jane - - - - US2 (24 weeks)
1955 Young at Heart - - - - US11 (6 weeks)
with Frank Sinatra
Soundtrack for the film You shouldn't play with love
Love Me or Leave Me - - - - US1 (39 weeks)
1957 Day by day - - - - US11 (6 weeks)
1964 Love him! - - - - US102 (8 weeks)
1979 20 golden greats - - - UK12 (11 weeks)
1989 A Portrait of Doris Day - - - UK32

(9 weeks)UK
1993 Greatest hits - - - UK14th

(12 weeks)UK
1994 The Love Album - - - UK64 (4 weeks)
1999 The Magic of the Movies - - - UK63 (2 weeks)
2002 41 Hollywood Greats - The Best Of - - - UK73 (2 weeks)
2007 The Magic of Doris Day - - - UK20th

(8 weeks)UK
2011 My heart DE46 (4 weeks)
AT22 (7 weeks)
CH73 (3 weeks)

(7 weeks)UK
US135 (1 week)
The Greatest Hits & More - - - UK65 (10 weeks)
2012 The Ultimate Collection - - - UK36 (3 weeks)
Number one albums DE-DE AT-AT CH-CH UK-UK US4thUS
Top 10 albums DE-DE AT-AT CH-CH UK1UK US9US
Albums in the charts DE1DE AT1AT CH1CH UK10UK US13US

gray hatching : no chart data available for this year

More albums

  • 1968: Doris Day's Greatest Hits (US:goldgold)
  • 1996: The Best Of (UK:silversilver)
  • 1997: Daydreaming - The Very Best Of (UK:silversilver)
  • 2006: The Collection (UK:silversilver)


This table lists all of Doris Day's singles who have made it into the top 40 in the respective singles charts in the USA as well as in the United Kingdom (from 1952) and Germany (from 1956). Until the end of 1947 Doris Day was the singer of the Les Brown Band, only from the song "Confess" did the titles appear under her name.

year Title
Top ranking, total weeks, awardChart placementsChart placements
(Year, title, album , rankings, weeks, awards, notes)
1948 Love somebody
- - US1 (24 weeks)
- - US16 (11 weeks)
with Buddy Clark
It's magic
- - US2 (21 weeks)
My darling, my darling
- - US7 (13 weeks)
with Buddy Clark
from the Broadway musical Where's Charley?
1949 Powder Your Face with Sunshine (Smile! Smile! Smile!)
- - US16 (3 weeks)
with Buddy Clark
- - US2 (19 weeks)
Movie: Nightclub Lilly
Everywhere You Go
- - US22 (1 week)
1949 Let's take an old-fashioned walk
- - US17 (6 weeks)
with Frank Sinatra
from the Broadway musical Miss Liberty
(Where Are You) Now That I Need You
- - US20 (7 weeks)
from the Broadway musical Red, Hot and Blue!
Canadian Capres (Cuttin 'Capres)
- - US15 (10 weeks)
Film: My Dream Are You
Original: Paul Whiteman (1922)
(There's A) Bluebird on Your Windowsill
- - US19 (2 weeks)
1950 Quicksilver
- - US20 (3 weeks)
I Said My Pajamas (And Put On My Pray'rs)
- - US21 (6 weeks)
Enjoy Yourself (It's Later Than You Think)
- - US24 (3 weeks)
1950 Hoop-De-Doo
- - US17 (12 weeks)
- - US9 (15 weeks)
from the Broadway musical Pal Joey
I Didn't Slip - I Wasn't Pushed - I Fell
- - US19 (4 weeks)
A bushel and a peck
- - US16 (8 weeks)
from the Broadway musical Guys and Dolls
1951 Would I Love You (Love You, Love You)
- - US10 (10 weeks)
Harry James & His Orchestra with Doris Day
(Why Did I Tell You I Was Going To) Shanghai
- - US7 (17 weeks)
- - US21 (4 weeks)
1952 A guy is a guy
- - US1 (19 weeks)
Adaptation of the British song I Went to the Alehouse (A Knave Is a Knave) from the 18th century
- UK8 (8 weeks)
US7 (14 weeks)
Doris Day and Frankie Lane
When I Fall in Love
- - US20 (3 weeks)
Movie: Korea
1952 No two people
- - US25 (2 weeks)
with Donald O'Connor
Film: Hans Christian Andersen
My love and devotion
- UK10 (2 weeks)
Full time job
- UK11 (1 week)
US20 (1 week)
Ma Says Pa Says
- UK12 (1 week)
with Johnnie Ray
1953 Mister Tap Toe
- - US10 (7 weeks)
Candy lips
- - US17 (1 week)
with Johnnie Ray
Let's Walk That-a-Way
- UK4 (14 weeks)
Choo Choo Train (Ch-Ch-Foo)
- - US20 (1 week)
Adaptation of the French song Le petit train
1954 Secret love
- UK1 (29 weeks)
US1 (22 weeks)
I speak to the stars
- - US16 (4 weeks)
Film: Blonde happiness
Black Hills of Dakota
- UK7 (8 weeks)
If I Give My Heart to You
- UK4 (11 weeks)
US3 (17 weeks)
1955 Ready, Willing and Able
- UK7 (9 weeks)
I'll never stop loving you
- UK17 (3 weeks)
US13 (9 weeks)
Love Me or Leave Me
- UK20 (1 week)
1956 Let it ring
- - US51 (6 weeks)
Ooh Bang Jiggilly Jang
- - US88 (1 week)
with Paul Weston
Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)
DE10 (4 weeks)
UK1 (22 weeks)
US2 (27 weeks)
Love in a home
- - US79 (4 weeks)
with Paul Weston
- - US64 (10 weeks)
The Party's Over
- - US63 (11 weeks)
1957 Twelve O'Clock Tonight
- - US68 (6 weeks)
1958 A very precious love
- UK16 (11 weeks)
Teacher's Pet
- - US56 (12 weeks)
Everybody Loves a Lover
- UK25 (4 weeks)
US14 (12 weeks)
Tunnel of love
- - US43 (8 weeks)
1959 Love me in the daytime
- - US100 (1 week)
1960 Anyway the Wind Blows
- - US50 (7 weeks)
1962 Lover come back
- - US98 (1 week)
1964 Move over darling
- UK8 (16 weeks)
1987 Move Over Darling (1987)
- UK45 (6 weeks)
Winter Wonderland / Christmas Song
- UK87 (2 weeks)
Number one singles DE-DE UK2UK US3US
Top 10 singles DE1DE UK9UK US13US
Singles in the charts DE1DE UK17thUK US46US

gray hatching : no chart data available for this year



  • George Morris: Doris Day: Your films - your life (Original title: Doris Day ). German by Claudia Walter, 2nd edition, Heyne, Munich 1987, ISBN 3-453-86061-6 ( Heyne-Filmbibliothek . Volume 61).
  • Tedd Thomey: Doris Day. A life report (original title: Doris Day ). German by Ellen Synthesen, Heyne, Munich 1965.
  • Discography from: Frank Laufenberg: Hit-Lexikon des Rock & Pop .


  • Eric Braun: Doris Day . 2. edit Orion, London 2004, ISBN 978-0-7528-1715-6 .
  • Tom Santopietro: Considering Doris Day . New York, St. Martin's Press.

Web links

Commons : Doris Day  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Most of the biographies, including the Brockhaus Enzyklopädie and Kay Less: Das Großes Personenlexikon des Films , name 1924 as the year of birth; few others, however, in 1922. The official census in her hometown of Cincinnati from April 1, 1930 indicates the age of Doris as seven years (microfilm: City Archives Cincinnati / Ohio, Federal Census 1930, Enumeration District 55, Rolle 1808, p. 10A), which proves 1922 as the year of birth.
  2. Her birth was registered with the Ohio Department of Health under number 1922032665 on April 12, 1922.
  3. ^ Doris Day. Suddenly a few years older. In: Der Spiegel . April 3, 2017. Retrieved May 16, 2017 .
  5. Doris Day in the spotlight. In: Süddeutsche Zeitung online. July 2, 2009. Retrieved May 16, 2017 .
  6. ^ Ancestors of Doris Day (with references to her parents and grandparents).
  7. Doris Day has a new home. In: Westfälische Nachrichten . January 15, 2008, accessed May 13, 2019 .
  8. Doris Day's roots go back to the Odenwald. In: Heilbronner Voice online. July 14, 2008, accessed May 13, 2019 .
  9. See Doris Day autobiography: Doris Day. Her Own Story, by AE Hotchner. 6th edition. New York: Bantam Books, p. 43; also in brown, Eric: Doris Day. 5th ed. London: Orion, pp. 42f.
  10. Gerhard Midding: Before she was a virgin in: Friday, January 9, 2004 , accessed on May 14, 2019
  11. With Six You Get Eggroll , cf.
  12. Caprice , cf.
  13. Box Office / Awards , see
  14. Cypress Inn (English)
  15. A California nightmare. In: The world . November 27, 2004, accessed May 13, 2019 .
  16. About Ryan Melcher Properties (English)
  17. Michael Pilz: "The dark sides of the chaste Doris Day" , Die Welt, September 2, 2011, accessed on May 13, 2019
  18. Robert Osborne : Interview with Doris Day on the occasion of her 90th birthday (audio recording, length 25:18, published on on May 13, 2019 by Turner Classic Movies ).
  19. ^ Doris Day, in Rare Interview, Talks Turning 97, Her Animal Foundation and Rock Hudson: "I Miss Him." Accessed May 14, 2019 .
  20. David Beard: Bruce Johnston produces new recordings for Doris Day album ( Memento from December 17, 2015 in the Internet Archive )
  21. Doris Day Animal Foundation: Hollywood Legend, Leading Singer and Animal Welfare Advocate Doris Day is Dead at 97. Retrieved on May 13, 2019 .
  22. Hollywood legend Doris Day is dead. In: , published and accessed on May 13, 2019.
  23. ^ At 95, Doris Day Gets As Much Tabloid Ink As the Kardashians. Retrieved May 13, 2019 .
  24. a b chart sources: