I love Doris Day.
She's probably my all-time favourite actress.
When I was a boy I lived in rural North Queensland, and in those days the TV would play back-to-back old Hollywood movies all Saturday and Sunday. Whenever I could I would plant myself in front of my Aunty Audrey's colour TV and lose myself in those extraordinary old films for hours on end. I recall seeing all the Astaire & Rogers movies, the Ziegfeld Follies movies, a lot of the Judy Garland & Mickey Rooney musicals and the absolutely wonderful Jayne Mansfield movie Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter.
I was devoted to musicals, and whenever a particularly well-known tune was heard my dear Aunty Audrey would come flying into the room to deliver her own interpretation, often imitating the person on-screen (I remember laughing for hours at her Lucille Ball imitation).
But nothing made us happier than Doris Day movies, and they seemed to be constantly on. Something about Miss Day's sassy but wholesome personality struck a chord with this small town queen, and I loved the sound of her voice. Aunty Audrey also had a full collection of Doris Day LPs in that gloriously thick 1950s record vinyl, and they often got an airing - my favourite always being her exquisite (but largely unappreciated) album Cuttin' Capers.
I've been reading David Bret's really very good new biography of Doris Day, and it spills all the dirt on her raunchy taste in men, her devotion to Christian Science, and the phenomenal career blunders that saw her become a stock figure of fun by the late 60s.
To my mind it was Doris' image as the perpetual virgin (remembering the line by a minor actor on some talk show in the 70s - "I knew Doris Day before she was a virgin!") that has hampered her reputation in the present day. She was in fact a fine actress (many critics and fellow-actors always acclaimed her as a comic genius) and her singing was unequalled, with a surprisingly low and breathy quality that rendered her songs quite sexy.
She has always been a gay icon, and in fact she always was a great friend of the gay community, standing by Rock Hudson during his final AIDS-related illness, and at the height of her fame often employing actors and leading-men who were openly gay.
She is still alive, but has been basically a recluse since the death of her son in 2004, to whom she was devoted. She has dedicated her winter years to the two causes about which she is most passionate - animal welfare and Christian Science.
You are a fabulous woman Miss Day - may you be blessed!