Doris Day performed ‘Que Sera Sera’ in 1956
Day, who sadly passed away in 2019, was one of Hollywood’s greats – an actress and singer who rose to prominence for her animal welfare activism. She began her career as a big band singer in 1939, achieving commercial success in 1945 with two No. 1 recordings, “Sentimental Journey” and “My Dreams Are Getting Better All the Time” with The Brown & His Band of Renown. In 1947, she left Brown to embark on a solo career, recording over 650 songs from 1947 to 1967.
Her acting career exploded alongside her music, beginning during Hollywood’s heyday with the movie Romance on the High Seas.
Not a one-ride pony, she has appeared in films of many genres including musicals, comedies, dramas, and thrillers.
Her best-known role came in 1953 when she played the title role in Calamity Jane, a spirited cowgirl who brings a glamorous song star to the Deadwood Lounge, which viewers are pleased to see. be transported this week on BBC Two.
Although Day’s career has been illustrious, it has not been without controversy.
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In 2008, a biography said that behind her image of the girl next door hides a fatal weakness for violent and maladjusted men.
The claims came during a Daily Mail article titled ‘How Doris Day’s Third Husband Cost Her Sanity – and Her Â£ 66million Fortune’, which serially published showbiz biographer David Bret’s book. , “Doris Day: Reluctant Star”.
At just 27, Day married Marty Melcher, her third husband.
Mr Bret wrote: “At first glance everything looked perfect: she and her new husband Marty Melcher bought a beautiful house in Los Angeles, where Doris’ son from her first marriage, Terry, then aged seven years, lived with them. “
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Melcher doubled as Day’s agent, with Mr Bret saying that meant: “There was no way he was willing to allow his money-making wife to quit the job.”
He continued, âShe did film after film, while he negotiated higher and higher fees for her, which everyone suspected was siphoning off for himself.
“She refused to listen to anyone saying it and was determined to show everyone that she had a happy marriage – and that’s what happened when Marty legally adopted Terry, who took her name, but behind the scenes things were dark.
âMarty grew jealous and controlling, never letting Doris go out on her own and deciding who she was or was not allowed to play with.
“Doris’ film career was also plummeting at the box office.”
Suggestions quickly emerged that Melcher was diverting money from Day’s work and transferring it to tax-free accounts in Switzerland.
Mr Bret wrote: “All of Doris’ sizable earnings went to Melcher and her lawyer and business partner Jerry Rosenthal without a doubt.
âDoris never quite knew how much she was being paid.
“Her husband signed the agreements and took care of the books and she said she had no reason not to trust him.”
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As a result, Day and Melcher’s marriage became difficult, especially due to her treatment of her son Terry.
But the two stayed together, even when Melcher fell ill.
Mr Bret continued: ‘When Doris received an unexpected tax claim for over $ 500,000 (Â£ 372,000), an investigation revealed her safes were empty: Apart from her personal effects, her husband had left her without the penny.
“It later emerged that her pal Rosenthal had been dealing with his fortune for up to 15 years.”
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Melcher died of a heart attack in 1968, with Day soon withdrawing from the film scene – but finding out that Melcher had engaged her in a CBS sitcom, The Doris Day Show, without consulting her.
It took nearly a decade of investigation before Rosenthal was found guilty of embezzling not only Doris’ money.
It also turned out that he embezzled money from stars like Zsa Zsa Gabor and Kirk Douglas.
The judge ruled that Day owed Â£ 66million.
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Around this time, Day announced that she was going to marry husband number four, Barry Comden, a restaurant manager who was 11 years her junior.
Their marriage lasted from 1976 to 1982, the two being linked by their love of dogs.
However, he later complained that she cared more about her “animal friends” than he did.
Day never received the amount she was entitled to because Rosenthal filed for bankruptcy.
The pair’s respective legal teams ultimately settled what was only a fraction of the original figure, with Day receiving payments totaling Â£ 4.4million.
Calamity Jane is streaming on iPlayer.
Doris Day: A Reluctant Star is published by JR Books.