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Remembering Hollywood icon Doris Day


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Judy Woodruff: Finally tonight, as part of our Canvas arts coverage, remembering an icon of classic Hollywood.

Doris Day died today at her home in Carmel Valley, California. She was one of the most bankable box office stars of her generation.

John Yang has more on her life and legacy.


John Yang: Doris Day performing her first number one hit in 1971, a quarter-century after its release. The record came out in 1945, during the final months of World War II. It became a defining ballad for G.I.s yearning to get back home and sent Day on her journey to stardom.

It didn't take long for her charm and expressive vocals to make it to the big screen and help establish Day as one of Hollywood's most popular leading ladies. From 1948 through 1968, she starred in nearly 40 films, her first, the comedy "Romance on the High Seas."

"Calamity Jane" came in 1953. She came to resent her girl-next-door image, as she told Johnny Carson.

Doris Day: The image has been so boring. I know, the virgin and the Goody Two-Shoes and all the nonsense, which is -- it's not human.

John Yang: But it was good girls in romantic comedies like "Pillow Talk" alongside leading man Rock Hudson that brought her a record-tying four first-place finishes in annual popularity polls of theater owners.

She also appeared in melodramas, including Alfred Hitchcock's "The Man Who Knew Too Much," in which she introduced the winner of 1957's Oscar for best song.

Her personal life was often a stark contrast to her film roles. She dealt with a series of failed marriages and financial troubles. She began retreating from public life and Hollywood, but she dedicated herself publicly to animal activism through her foundation.

Doris Day: I'm here to tell you that our shelters are unbelievably overcrowded, and we can and must do something about it.

John Yang: Doris Day was 97 years old.

For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm John Yang.

Judy Woodruff: And you can't think about Doris Day without a big smile.

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