Doris Day on Her New Album, Rock Hudson and the Car Accident That Changed Her Career (Q&A)
The original girl next door and avid animal-rights activist reminisces on a 65-year career as a singer and actress.
This article appeared in the Dec. 23 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
On Dec. 2, Doris Day, who will receive the Los Angeles Film Critics' career achievement award in January, released My Heart, her first album in 17 years. Most of its 13 never-before-heard renditions of songs including "Daydream" and "Stewball" were produced by her son Terry Melcher, the producer of the Beach Boys and the Byrds who died in 2004 at 62.
Day, now 87, morphed from the young jazz singer of 1945's "Sentimental Journey" to sugar-and-spice pop singer to Oscar-nominated movie star in 1959's Pillow Talk. She spoke with THR about old times and the new record.
The Hollywood Reporter: Why are these songs from 1951 to 1994 being released only now?
Doris Day: When you're with a company like Columbia, they did it their way, and [the late Columbia exec] Mitch Miller wasn't a person who liked beautiful old songs. He was in charge of what we sang, and it was hurtful. Frank Sinatra went to Capitol. Columbia told him, "You're going to get hit with a sum of money that you don't even have, so you're not going to go anywhere." Well, he borrowed and got out of there. But I stayed.
THR: Why do this record?
Day: It just happened. I just wish my son could be here. But I love that he sings on two of the songs.
THR: Your voices blend.
Day: Now I realize it. We should have sung together a lot. We should have done many things together.
THR: You were a female icon like Marilyn Monroe, only the opposite: chaste. Was it hard to be a woman breaking through back then?
Day: I never thought much about it. I haven't a clue, but things just happen.
THR: Monroe consciously devised her persona. Did you?
Day: No way. I was just what I am, who I am.
THR: When you were 13, a car wreck broke your legs and ended your dance career. How did that affect you?
Day: I couldn't walk for almost three years. That was the greatest thing that happened. Instead of dancing, I sang. They carried me three times a week up a stairway to my music teacher.
THR: Tell us about being discovered at 16.
Day: The more you look and get frantic, the more you don't get. When you're not looking, strange things happen, like my lead in Romance on the High Seas . When I got the call, I thought it was someone imitating the leading man [Jack Carson]. He said, "I am who I said I am, and you are going to be in the movie." Right now, as I said that, I got goose bumps, like that very time. I almost went to the floor then. I almost did now.
THR: After that, was it just doing what comes naturally, performing?
Day: Yes, it was. I never studied. It just has to come from wherever. God -- is he there? Yoo-hoo! If you sing, you sing.
THR: What do you think about today's Lady Gaga or Britney Spears?
Day: I don't know many of the girl singers. I like Michael Buble.
THR: What was your favorite role?
Day: The ones with Jimmy Garner and Rock [Hudson]. I asked, "Who's with me in Pillow Talk?" They said, "Rock." That struck me as funny. That's a name? I liked being married instead of the girl who's looking for a guy. I liked those scripts because you fight, and it was all real.
THR: Sales of the record will support the Doris Day Animal Foundation, right?
Day: Yeah. I'm going to do as much as I can for the animal world, and I'll never stop.
THR: What's the oldest song on My Heart?
Day: "Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries." When I was about 7, I taught myself to dance and I sang that. And it is! Life is just a bowl of cherries.
DORIS DAY'S 5 BIGGEST HITS
- "Sentimental Journey" 1945
- "My Dreams Are Getting Better All the Time" 1945
- "Love Somebody" 1948
- "Secret Love" 1954
- "A Guy Is a Guy" 1952