Celebrity status is akin to almost becoming a deity. But we forget that those celebrities are human beings who go through the same experiences as much as the ordinary Jane or John Doe on the street does.
Born Doris Mary Kappelhoff to German-American parents in 1922, Day grew up in Cincinnati. Known to movie fans as the virginal girl next door with just enough sexuality to make her interesting, she was Queen of the box office in the 1950’s and early 1960’s. What is interesting to me as a reader is that her image as an actress and her real life was drastically different.
She was married four times and had only one child via her first husband. None of her marriages could be classified as pictures of marital perfection. Her longest marriage was to her manager, Marty Melcher. Though the marriage started out as an ideal love match (he also adopted her son), it did not end well. The irony of this time in her life is that this period in her personal life coincided with unparalleled career success.
This book is amazing. I felt like I knew the real Doris Day, not the Doris Day whose image had been so carefully cultivated by movie studios. This is a story of a woman who survived so much and was able to live a full life in spite of what she had experienced.
During her heyday, Day was on of the most recognized performers in the world. A triple threat, she could act, sing and dance like nobody’s business. Looking back, her image was emblematic of the period. With her blue eyes and blonde hair, she was the all-American women. Day’s most notable parts were as the sexualized virgin: smart, sassy, romantic and convincing her leading man to fall in love with her, marry her and take her to bed without directly saying so.
My favorite Doris Day film is Pillow Talk. Playing opposite her long time friend and collaborator, Rock Hudson. While there are certain elements of the film that are very dated, the comedy and the double entendres still hold up to this day.
My favorite song of her’s is her most famous: Que Sera Sera from the Hitchcock film, The Man Who Knew Too Much. It’s one of those songs that I think still hold up to this day.
Wherever you are in heaven, Doris Day, RIP. May your memory be a blessing.
Depending on your age, Rock Hudson can be one of several things. If you came of age in the 1950’s and 1960’s, he was your matinee idol. Tall, handsome, with dark hair, a strong jaw and a compassionate nature, he was Hollywood’s version of the All-American boy. If you are a member of the LGBTQ or the medical community, he is the first major celebrity to die from HIV/AIDS, putting a face on a disease and a community that in the early 1980’s was vastly misunderstood.
Born Roy Harold Scherer, Jr in 1925 in Illinois, the future Rock Hudson knew hardship at an early age. His father abandoned his family, his stepfather abused him and his mother was not the most maternal of women. Having an inkling that he was attracted to men at an early age, he learned to hide his sexuality. As an adult, he became the biggest name in Hollywood, but he was living two lives. In spite of the rumors and the potential scandal that threatened his career multiple times, Rock Hudson became the go to leading man for a generation of movie fans.
Containing interviews with colleagues, romantic partners and family members, this book is a must read for any movie fan. It draws back the curtain on the movie star to reveal a man who was deeply conflicted and living in a time when being who you were meant risking everything.
I absolutely recommend it.
P.S. If you have never seen a Rock Hudson film, I recommend that you start with Pillow Talk (1959). Hudson stars opposite Doris Day in what is one of my favorite romantic comedies. Granted, certain elements of the film are dated, but overall, it is a fantastic film.
In education, there are two ways of learning: there is the education of life and there is the education we receive in the classroom.
In the 1958 movie, Teacher’s Pet, James Gannon (Clark Gable) is a newspaper editor who believes that the only way to learn to become a good journalist is to get your hands dirty and get out on the streets. There is no value in taking any classes in journalism. Then he is ordered by his bosses to help Erica Stone (Doris Day), a journalism college professor to provide professional assistance.
Instead of following his bosses’ order, he pretends to be a student. The problem is that Erica openly dislikes him with a passion, but James is attracted to her and over time, Erica is attracted to him. They also begin to understand each other’s perspective on journalism. The question is, when will James reveal his secret and how will Erica respond?
This movie is interesting to me. One on hand, it is the traditional romantic comedy. But on the other hand the movie asks an interesting question about writing. Does one learn to write by just doing and learning from your mistakes or do we go the traditional route and learn in a classroom?
Brad Allen (Rock Hudson) and Jan Morrow (Doris Day) share a telephone line. Interior decorator Jan needs the line open for work but playboy Brad uses the phone for more personal uses. Coincidentally, Jan and Brad are dining at the same restaurant and Brad takes a liking to Jan. The kicker here is that Brad introduces himself to Jan not as himself, but as a Texas native new to the big city. I will let the trailer take it from here.
Decades later, in the 1980’s, when Rock Hudson not only came out, but revealed that he was dying from AIDS, Ms. Day was one of several performers to stand by their friend and colleague.
She is not only an iconic performer, but what we in the Jewish community call a mensch, a good person.
Pillow Talk, is a classic. It is a perfect rom-com, with subtle sexual innuendo, wrapped in the blanket of the late 1950’s.
Jan Morrow (Doris Day) and Brad Allen (Rock Hudson) share a telephone line. She is a single interior designer, he is playboy Broadway composer. Over the phone they don’t get along. Brad sees Jan at a club and attempts to romance her by pretending to be a shy country boy who in the big city for the first time.
This movie is perfect and funny and despite the era it was made in, it is full of sexual innuendo. Doris Day and Rock Hudson have a natural on screen chemistry. Pillow Talk is the first of three films they made together, they were the real life Will and Grace until Hudson passed away from AIDS in the early 1980’s.
I highly recommend this movie, both as a viewer and as a challenge to a screenwriter to remake it for today’s audiences.