Doris Day Undressed
Doris Mary Ann von Kappelhoff, known as Doris Day (born April 3, 1924), is an American singer, actress, and animal welfare advocate. A vivacious blonde with a wholesome image, she was one of the most prolific actresses of the 1950s and 1960s. Able to sing, dance, and play comedy and dramatic roles, she has been an all-round star whose personality has permeated many popular and diverse movies.
In 1959, Day entered her most successful phase as a film actress with a series of romantic comedies, starting with the hugely popular Pillow Talk co-starring Rock Hudson, who became a lifelong friend. The film received positive reviews and was a box office favourite. It also brought a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Actress for Day. She and Hudson made two more films together, and she also made two films alongside James Garner, starting with 1963's The Thrill Of It All. Many of her 1960s films ignored her singing abilities and painted her as a good-hearted woman with a strong will, a hint of naïveté, and the purest virtue this side of a nun. Algonquin Roundtable member and showbusiness wit Oscar Levant, who had known Day earlier in her career, summed up the paradox of Day's late-blooming ingenue phase when he famously said, "I knew Doris Day before she was a virgin." But the public loved Day's light, frothy comedies of this period, buying enough tickets to make her by far the top female movie star in America during the first half of the 1960s.
By the late 1960s, the sexual revolution and the widely discussed promiscuity of the maturing baby boomer generation had refocused public attitudes about sex and sexuality. Times changed, but Day's films did not. Critics, comics and pundits dubbed Day "the world's oldest virgin" and audiences began to shy away from her repetitive, gimmicky roles. Day herself found many of her mid-late 1960s films to be of very poor quality (her least favorite was Caprice, co-starring Richard Harris) and did them only at the insistence of her third husband and sometime producer, Marty Melcher. One of the roles he supposedly turned down for her was that of middle-aged adulteress Mrs. Robinson in The Graduate (a role that went to Anne Bancroft). Later, in her published memoirs co-authored by A.E. Hotchner, Doris says that she herself rejected the part on moral grounds.