Tags: doris day | joy | heartbreak | marriages | son

The Joy and Heartbreak of Doris Day's Life Revealed

The Joy and Heartbreak of Doris Day's Life Revealed
Doris Day in 1946 (William P. Gottlieb/Ira and Leonore S. Gershwin Fund Collection, Music Division, Library of Congress via Reuters)

By    |   Wednesday, 15 May 2019 10:37 AM

Most people will remember Doris Day as the sunny blonde who stole America’s hearts with her sweet girl-next-door nature but beneath her happy facade was a strong, complicated woman who had weathered many storms.

The iconic actress and singer, who died Monday at the age of 97, opened up about her trials and tribulations in her 1975 autobiography, "Doris Day: Her Own Story."

Sharing her story with writer A.E. Hotchner, Day said she wanted to "deal with the true, honest story" of who she was and her autobiography is filled with bombshell revelations. "This image I’ve got … It has nothing to do with the life I’ve had," she added, according to People.

Her first heartbreak came at the age of 15, when a car accident cut short her dancing career in 1937. Day's right leg was shattered and she was left bedridden for months when a train struck the car that she was traveling in.

But rather than admit defeat, Day turned her focus to singing. She went on to join a local dance band of Barney Rapp, where she met and married the trombonist, Al Jorden, in 1941, according to TCM.

However, Day's dreams of domestic bliss were soon shattered when her husband's violent side emerged. He would routinely hit her and reportedly threatened to shoot her. She recalled that he first hit her when she accepted a wedding gift and continued to beat her for two months. Day then became pregnant with her son Terry, which caused her to stay in the marriage, even though Jorden beat her during the pregnancy.

"What had represented to me as love emerged as jealousy — a pathologic jealousy that was destined to make a nightmare out of the next few years of my life," Day recalled of her marriage, according to People. She eventually worked up the courage to kick Jorden out of their Cincinnati home in 1943. He committed suicide 14 years later.

Three years after she booted Jorden, Day met and married saxophonist George Weidler from 1946 to 1949. Three years after that she met her third husband, Martin Melcher, who squandered her savings, left her broke and committed to several TV appearances. Day only found out she was in debt after Melcher’s death in 1968 but she was eventually awarded over $22 million for fraud and malpractice.

One of Day’s most interesting romantic hookups was with Ronald Reagan, before she married Melcher and long before the Great Communicator went into politics. (They starred in "The Winning Team," a 1952 movie.)

Day said Reagan was a great dancer and a sincere person who even then was a great communicator. “He had what I would call a political personality — engaging, strong and very voluble,” she said.

Day’s son Terry Melcher brought her great joy and sorrow. He was a successful music producer and song writer who worked with the Beach Boys, Paul Revere, and the Raiders and other top acts. His death from melanoma in 2004 left the star devastated.

Despite the heartache she endured, Day never lost her spark and went on to commit her life to animal welfare.

After retiring in 1973 she established the Doris Day Pet Foundation, which formed the basis upon which Day fought against animal testing. She went on to successfully implement spaying and neutering education and outreach programs across the U.S. while providing support to various other small animal rescue organizations nationwide, with a strong focus on senior pets.

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Most people will remember Doris Day as the sunny blonde who stole America's hearts with her sweet girl-next-door nature but beneath her happy facade was a strong, complicated woman who had weathered many storms.
doris day, joy, heartbreak, marriages, son
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2019-37-15
Wednesday, 15 May 2019 10:37 AM
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