Doris Day, the legendary Hollywood star of movies and music, and a tireless activist for animal rights, died Monday at age 97. Her death opened the floodgates of tributes to the actress, one of the biggest stars of the early 1960s.
Day's death was announced by her foundation, The Doris Day Animal Foundation. She died surrounded by friends and family.
Day, born Doris Mary Ann Von Kappelhoff, was in remarkable health for her age. However, she recently contracted a serious case of pneumonia and was unable to recover.
Day started her singing career at age 15, scoring several big band hits until she got the attention of Hollywood. She made her film debut in 1948's Romance on the High Seas for Warner Bros. The film's success guaranteed her a place among the Hollywood stars and she went on to make 38 other movies through 1968. She earned her only Oscar nomination for 1959's Pillow Talk, the first of three films co-starring Rock Hudson. Day also made films with Jack Lemmon, James Stewart, Clark Gable, Cary Grant, James Garner and Rod Taylor.
After leaving films, Day starred on The Doris Day Show, which ran until 1973 and earned her a Golden Globe nomination. After the show ended, she used her fame to raise awareness of animal rights, fighting against animal testing and advocating for spay/neuter education. She helped establish the Stay Day program, which is now marked across 75 countries as World Spay Day.
"Doris' passionate work on behalf of dogs, cats, horses, sea lions, raptors and other animals in need of rescue, veterinary care and adoption will not end," the foundation's statement read. "The Doris Day Animal Foundation is committed to continuing its work as a grant-giving organization, funding smaller animal welfare non-profits across the country. Doris’ wishes were that she have no funeral or memorial service and no grave marker."
Day's fans flooded social media with tributes to her incredible career, as did Hollywood stars and musicians.
"So sad to hear of Doris Day passing away. She was a true star in more ways than one," Paul McCartney wrote on his website. "I had the privilege of hanging out with her on a few occasions. Visiting her in her Californian home was like going to an animal sanctuary where her many dogs were taken care of in splendid style. She had a heart of gold and was a very funny lady who I shared many laughs with. Her films like Calamity Jane, Move Over, Darling and many others were all incredible and her acting and singing always hit the mark. I will miss her but will always remember her twinkling smile and infectious laugh as well as the many great songs and movies she gave us. God bless Doris."
"She was one of a kind," Katie Couric wrote, along with a clip of Day singing "Que Sera Sera" in The Man Who Knew Too Much.
"Think of all the animals #DorisDay rescued," Illeana Douglas tweeted.
"Bravo wonderful Doris Day on a life beautifully lived," Mitzi Gaynor wrote. "Thank you for the great gifts you shared with all of us, they will live forever."0comments
"This morning I was saddened to learn that Doris Day who starred in a film I had written The Thrill Of It All had passed away at 97," Carl Reiner tweeted. "Just a week ago, I contacted her and welcomed her to the 97 Year Actor's Club."
Photo credit: GAB Archive/Redferns/Getty Images