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Hollywood legend Doris Day dies at 97

Calamity fame:
Doris Day in
the 1953 hit
Calamity Jane

SHE was the ultimate girl next door, the Hollywood star whose wholesome screen image stood for an age of innocence.

Acting legend and honey-voiced singer Doris Day — who found fame in movies like Calamity Jane and performing songs such as Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be) — has died at her home in Carmel Valley, California, aged 97. Her charity, the Doris Day Animal Foundation, said she was ‘surrounded by close friends’ and ‘had been in excellent physical health for her age, until recently contracting a serious case of pneumonia’.

Hollywood calling: With Thelma Ritter in Pillow Talk in 1959 PICTURE: REX

Doris Marianne von Kappelhoff was born to a music teacher and a housewife in Evanston, Ohio, in April 1922. She dreamed of a dance career, but at 12 years old a car she was in was hit by a train and her leg was shattered. She became a singer and got her acting break when she sang at a Hollywood party in 1947.

Top thrilling: With Stewart in The Man Who Knew Too Much

She was a top box office draw and recording artist in the 1950s and 60s known for films such as Pillow Talk — the first of three movies with Rock Hudson — and Teacher’s Pet, with Clark Gable. She also appeared in Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much with James Stewart. Her last film was in 1968 and she went on to have a TV career before retiring from showbusiness, without ever winning an Oscar, in the 1980s. Latterly, she spent much of her time fighting for animal rights. But she still had enough of a following that a 2011 collection of songs, My Heart, was a top ten hit in the UK.

Three cheers: Day was in three films with Rock Hudson PICTURE: GETTY

In real-life Day wasn’t quite as innocent. In her book Doris Day: Her Own Story, she wrote of her money troubles and three failed marriages. She said: ‘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.’