How Did Doris Day Die? New Details On The Demise Of The Hollywood Icon And Animal Rights Activist

How Did Doris Day Die? New Details On The Demise Of The Hollywood Icon And Animal Rights Activist

Earlier today, reports were released about the death of Doris Day, a Hollywood icon and animal rights activist. She was 97 years old. How did Doris Day die?

She was, quite literally, the voice of a generation. Her 1956 hit song, “Que Sera Sera,” is still used in commercials today, and she was ahead of her time with her commitment to such things as healthy living and animal activism.

But the Doris Day Animal Foundation just released a statement saying that their eponymous founder has died at the age of 97.

Let’s look at Doris Day’s life and explore how this Hollywood icon passed away.

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1. She was one of the top box-office draws of the 1950s and 1960s.

According to the BBC, Doris Day’s on-screen partnership with Rock Hudson (who was, for most of his career, deep in the proverbial closet about his sexuality) helped catapult her into the pop culture stratosphere. Pillow Talk, in fact, was one of the biggest box-office draws of its era and kicked off a decades-long friendship that Day would subsequently detail in All That Heaven Allows: A Biography Of Rock Hudson. She willingly kept his sexuality a secret, at his request, and went on to star with him in such films as Lover Come Back and Send Me No Flowers.

Doris Day was a Hollywood icon.

2. She kept her private life extremely private.

Even though she had a so-called “Miss Chastity Belt” image back in the prime of her career, Doris Day’s private life was kept a secret from the press for a very long time. And that, according to USA Today, was by her own design. She was married four times, divorced three times, and widowed once. Her sole son — music producer Terry Melcher, who was a product of her abusive marriage to saxophonist Al Jorden, and subsequently adopted by her former manager Marty Melcher (who became her third husband and squandered more than $20 million of her money) — died in 2004 from cancer.

Even though she wasn't always happy in her private life, Doris Day made generations of fans happy in her public life.

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3. She stopped acting in the 1970s and dedicated her life to animal activism.

According to The Los Angeles Times, Doris Day was ahead of her time in her desire to help animals in need. So, when she stopped acting in the 1970s — after her talk show, The Doris Day Show, was canceled — she started the Doris Day Animal Foundation, which was her second foundation dedicated to animal welfare.

“In 1971, she had helped found Actors and Others for Animals, which rescues strays and mistreated animals,” reports the outlet. “When she released “My Heart” in 2011, the album of old recordings was her first in 17 years, and proceeds were earmarked for her foundation. With her son, she also was part-owner of the Cypress Inn, a Carmel hotel that welcomes pets.”

When her fourth and final husband, restaurant manager Barry Comden, filed for divorce in 1981, he claimed that Doris Day preferred the company of dogs to human beings. (Can’t quite say we blame her there…)

Doris Day was commended for her animal activism.

4. She died of pneumonia.

According to NPR, Doris Day was in pretty good health, especially for her advanced age. In fact, she’d recently celebrated her birthday — and in her trademark style, she spent it in her own company, surrounded by her beloved dogs, and enjoying cake and ice cream (which, quite frankly, is quite the perfect birthday).

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However, a few days ago, she’d contracted a “serious case” of pneumonia, and ultimately, that pneumonia took her life.

But even in her life and death, Doris Day did it on her terms.

“Tabloids often caught Day doing simple things in retirement: going to the grocery store, caring for scores of abandoned pets or dining out with friends. And it seems if she couldn't be the girl next door in her youth, as the years passed, she came close — sort of,” reported NPR.

Doris Day lived and died on her terms.

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Bernadette Giacomazzo is an editor, writer, and photographer whose work has appeared in People, Teen Vogue, Us Weekly, The Source, XXL, HipHopDX, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Post, and more. She is also the author of The Uprising series. Find her online at www.bernadettegiacomazzo.com and www.longlivetheuprising.com.