It was only when a vehicle accident left her with two broken legs that the 13-year-old turned to singing.
The singer turned actress acted in such films as Calamity Jane and Pillow Talk and had a hit in 1956 with Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be). Everyone knows her megahit, "Que Sera, Sera", a sort of anthem about going whichever way the wind takes you, the ideal song to sing to a child who, in the way children are, is eager for all the answers. "She was surrounded by a few close friends as she passed". "I couldn't believe it", she says in the recording, which was provided by Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld's office at the time.
Her The Thrill of It all and Move Over, Darling co-star, James Garner, also said of Day: "I'd rather have Doris than Liz Taylor". She also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, in 2004, though her fear of flying kept her from coming to the White House to accept it. In 2011, Day talked to Reuters about her song, "My Buddy", being about her late son.
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She never won an Academy Award, but Day was given a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2004, as George W. Bush declared it "a good day for America when Doris Marianne von Kappelhoff of Evanston, Ohio chose to become an entertainer".
During her acting career, Day worked with some of the biggest stars and most well-known directors of the mid-century period, commonly known as the Golden Age of Hollywood. "Doris' wishes were that she have no funeral or memorial service and no grave marker". That song and "Que Sera Sera" would be her biggest hits.
In all, according to her Foundation, Day made 39 films.
You can nearly hear Day swoon in this romantic cover of the Frank Sinatra standard, recorded in 1962 with pianist Andre Previn. "The Doris Day Show" was a moderate success in its 1968-1973 run on CBS.
The career Day built from there had its ups and downs: In 1968, when her third husband, Martin Melcher, died, she found he had squandered her money, leaving her deeply in debt. When Manson and his followers embarked on their murderous rampage in 1969, they headed for a house once owned by Melcher and instead came upon actress Sharon Tate and some visitors, all of whom were killed.