Doris Day, Hollywood Legend and Activist, Has Died at 97

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Doris Day, the beloved actress and singer who rose to superstardom in the 1940s, died on Monday at the age of 97. The prolific performer embodied an era of American entertainment, having dominated both the box office and music charts in her expansive career. Her death was confirmed by the Doris Day Animal Foundation, which issued a statement explaining that Day “had been in excellent physical health for her age, until recently contracting a serious case of pneumonia.”

Known for her innocent and wholesome persona, Day began her career as a big band singer before moving into film. She balanced two successful careers, with over 650 recordings and five number one singles in the U.S. while also starring in film classics like Calamity Jane and Move Over Darling. Following the finish of her film career in 1968, Day moved onto television, starring in The Doris Day Show on CBS for five years.

As her career developed, though, it was her saccharine celebrity persona that cemented her place in Hollywood. But even with that reputation, Day’s personal life was more complicated and candid than her exterior suggested. As the AP reported, she once noted in her book Doris Day: Her Own Story, “I have the unfortunate reputation of being Miss Goody Two-Shoes, America’s Virgin, and all that, so I’m afraid it’s going to shock some people for me to say this, but I staunchly believe no two people should get married until they have lived together.”

Day’s legacy remains one of the most memorable in Hollywood. Pillow Talk, the first of three romantic comedies she would do with Rock Hudson, was a pioneer in the genre and earned her an Academy Award nomination. Day’s music career, which often overlapped with her film work, produced massive hits includingQue Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)” featured in The Man Who Knew Too Much. Though she never won a competitive Grammy, she did receive three different Grammy Hall of Fame Awards in 1998, 1999 and 2012.

Day founded the Doris Day Animal Foundation in 1978, and she continued to oversee the organization late into her life. Driven by her deep love of animals, her advocacy work was one Day’s greatest passions. Though her foundation’s statement also included that there be “no funeral or memorial service and no grave marker,” Day’s imprint on Hollywood will not be soon forgotten. In a time of reality television fame and singing competitions, Day represents an era of celebrity glamour that perhaps (perhaps, perhaps) will never be seen again.

Justin Kirkland is a writer for Esquire, where he primarily writes about entertainment, television, and movies.