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Doris Day Biography

Doris Von Kappelhoff, 3 April 1922, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. One of popular music’s premier post-war vocalists and biggest names, Kappelhoff originally trained as a dancer, before turning to singing at the age of 16. After changing her surname to Day, she became the featured singer with the Bob Crosby Band. A similarly successful period with the Les Brown Band saw her record a single for Columbia Records, ‘Sentimental Journey’, which sold in excess of a million copies. Already an accomplished businesswoman, it was rumoured that she held a substantial shareholding in her record company. After securing the female lead in the 1948 film Romance On The High Seas, in which she introduced Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne’s ‘It’s Magic’, she enjoyed a stupendous movie career. Her striking looks, crystal-clear singing voice and willingness to play tomboy heroines, as well as romantic figures, brought her a huge following. In common with other female singers of the period, she was occasionally teamed with the stars of the day and enjoyed collaborative hits with Frankie Laine (‘Sugarbush’) and Johnnie Ray (‘Let’s Walk That A-Way’).

Day appeared in nearly 40 movies over two decades, including It’s A Great Feeling (1949), Young Man With A Horn (1950), Tea For Two (1950), The West Point Story (1950), Lullaby Of Broadway (1951), On Moonlight Bay (1951), Starlift (1951), I’ll See You In My Dreams (1951), April In Paris (1952), By The Light Of The Silvery Moon (1953), Calamity Jane (1953), Young At Heart (1954), Love Me Or Leave Me (1955), The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), The Pajama Game (1957), Pillow Talk (1959) and Jumbo (1962). These films featured some of her best-known hits. One of her finest performances was in the uproarious romantic western Calamity Jane, which featured her enduringly vivacious versions of ‘The Deadwood Stage’ and ‘Black Hills Of Dakota’. The movie also gave her a US/UK number 1 single with the yearningly sensual ‘Secret Love’ (later a lesser hit for Kathy Kirby). Day enjoyed a further UK chart-topper with the romantically uplifting ‘Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera)’. After a gap of nearly six years, she returned to the charts with the sexually inviting movie theme ‘Move Over Darling’, co-written by her producer son Terry Melcher.

Day’s Hollywood career ended in the late 60s and thereafter she was known for her reclusiveness. After more than 20 years away from the public’s gaze, she emerged into the limelight in 1993 for a charity screening of Calamity Jane in her home-town of Carmel, California. Two years later she made further appearances to promote The Love Album, which was recorded in 1967 but had been ‘lost’ since that time and never released. An earlier effort to remind her fans of the good old days came in the early 90s, when Leo P. Carusone and Patsy Carver’s songbook revue Definitely Doris began its life as a cabaret at New York’s Duplex. The show subsequently had its ‘world premiere’ at the King’s Head Theatre, Islington, London, before returning to the USA and entertaining audiences at Boston’s 57 Theatre with a host of memorable numbers such as ‘Ten Cents A Dance’, ‘Secret Love’, ‘When I Fall In Love’, ‘It’s Magic’, and the rest. In 1998, a British-born celebration of Doris Day and her work starred popular singer Rosemary Squires, who created the project with Helen Ash, wife of musician Vic Ash.

History has made Doris Day an icon; her fresh-faced looks, sensual innocence and strikingly pure vocal style effectively summed up a glamorous era of American music.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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