Remembering Doris Day

Sep 25, 2017

Herb Reisenfeld of Provident Travel loves to say that his mother-in-law, singer Ruby Wright,  was responsible for Doris Day's career.

Before Wright became a regular on Ruth Lyons' "50-50 Club" TV show, she sang for her husband, bandleader Barney Rapp. When Ruby was pregnant with her daughter Susie, Rapp hired a local teenager singer named Doris Kappelhoff.

Publicity photo CBS' "The Doris Day Show" which aired on TV from 1968 to 1973.
Credit CBS

"I like to say that my wife was responsible for Doris Day's career," says Reisenfeld, who will talk about Doris Day on "Cincinnati Edition" at 1 p.m. today on WVXU-FM (91.7) with host Mark Heyne and me. Also joining us will be retired surgeon Bob Maltz, a dedicated Doris Day fan who has been urging the City of Cincinnati to honor Day for more than a decade. That will finally happen Wednesday, Sept. 27, thanks to Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld.

Day, 95, who lives in Carmel-by-the-Sea, Calif., will not attend the city council meeting Wednesday.

Reisenfeld says that Rapp suggested Day change her name because "Kappelhoff" didn't fit on the marquee at his club, The Sign of the Drum, which was located across from Sugar n' Spice on Reading Road in Avondale. He suggested Doris Day, since she enjoyed singing the popular song "Day By Day."

"She didn't like it, but she accepted it," Reisenfeld says.

And it worked out OK for her. Doris Day became arguably the biggest star produced by Cincinnati.  

She recorded "Sentimental Journey," "Que Sera Sera," and hundreds of songs. She starred in 39 films, many light comedies: "Calamity Jane," "The Pajama Game," "Pillow Talk," "Please Don't Eat The Daisies," "That Touch of Mink," "The Glass Bottom Boat," "Where Were You When The Lights Went Out?," "With Six You Get Eggroll" and "Do Not Disturb."

Gordon MacRae and Doris Day starred in "Starlift" in 1951.Credit Warner Bros.Edit | Remove

As her movie career was winding down, she starred in "The Doris Day Show" sitcom on CBS for five seasons (1968-73) as a widow with two young boys who moves from a big city to a ranch. It earned her two Golden Globes nominations in 1969.  She also hosted "Doris Day's Best Friends" (1985-86) on the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) cable channel to promote her animal rescue efforts and the Doris Day Animal Foundation, which she founded in 1978 as the Doris Day Pet Foundation.

Day was honored by the Grammy Awards in 2008 with a lifetime achievement award. Twice she was nominated but did not win a Grammy -- for "Everybody Loves A Lover" single in 1958 (at the first ever Grammy Awards), and for her "Sound of Music" album in 1960.

"If she was a baseball player or a racehorse, she would have won the Triple Crown," says Maltz, referring to her excellence as a singer, movie star and TV star.

"I was drawn to her by her movies. She was so perky, with those All-America good looks, blonde hair and blue eyes. Then I became a fan of her singing. When I heard her singing 'It's Magic,' I thought she was singing it just to me," says Maltz, a retired ear, nose and throat surgeon who  has been a huge Doris Day fan since he was a teen in the 1950s.

Day played a widowed city woman with two sons who moved back to the family ranch on "The Doris Day Show."
Credit CBS

As a kid growing up in Cincinnati, Maltz says he might have said that cowboy singer-actor Roy Rogers was the greatest star from Cincinnati – before he saw Day's movies.

"I'd have to say Doris Day is the biggest star. She was prettier than Roy Rogers --  and she could sing better," he says with a laugh.

Day originally thought she'd be a famous dancer with her partner Jerry Doherty. They were planning to move to Hollywood in 1937, until they were injured in a car-train wreck in Hamilton. During her year-long recovery from a severely broken leg, Day turned to singing.

Maltz says that 97-year-old Marian Collins, who was injured in that car wreck with Day, will attend the Cincinnati City Hall ceremony Wednesday.

To hear more stories about Doris Day, tune in "Cincinnati Edition" today at 1 p.m.  And to learn more about her, see my "Did Your Family Know Young Doris Day?" blog on Sept. 19. 

Here's the release from Sittenfeld's office with the timetable for events:

City Honors Legendary Actress, Singer, & Cincinnati Native Doris Day

On Wednesday, September 27th at 2:00PM, Cincinnati City Council will vote on an ordinance to honor Cincinnati native and legendary actress  and singer Doris Day with a secondary street name of “Doris Day Way” on Walnut Street between 6th  and 7th  Streets.

Dr. Bob Maltz, representing a number of impassioned fans of Doris Day, approached Councilmember P.G. Sittenfeld with the idea to honor  Ms. Day, Cincinnati’s most prolific hometown entertainer.  Sittenfeld agreed that a permanent recognition in the heart of the downtown entertainment district would be “an opportunity to both generate nostalgia for her longtime fans and to introduce her to

a new generation,” adding that “having a prominent street in our arts district bear the name of Doris Day is a fitting tribute to an iconic Cincinnatian.”

Doris Day was born in Cincinnati in 1922 and started her career as a singer on WLW radio and at a local club called The Sign of the  Drum. She is famous for her over forty movies including classics like “The Pajama Game”, “Pillow Talk” and “Calamity Jane” and for her vocals on songs like Que Sera.

Among her numerous other accomplishments, she was the world’s best-selling female vocalist in 1960, received a Golden Globe Lifetime Achievement Award, and was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. 

Councilmember Sittenfeld also initiated a Mayoral proclamation to declare September 27th “Doris Day Day” in Cincinnati.

Ms. Day is 95 years old and lives in Carmel, California. While she no longer travels, she is sending a representative from her beloved  Doris Day Animal Foundation and has stated that “I am honored and absolutely delighted that the City of Cincinnati has proclaimed a ‘Doris  Day Day’ and named a street after me.  My Cincinnati roots go very deep, and my childhood holds such fond memories.”

Two local entertainment venues will be honoring Ms. Day that week as well in honor of her street naming, and both doing so to raise  money for the Doris Day Animal Foundation. 

On Wednesday evening September 27th  at 7:00PM, the Esquire Theatre will screen Day’s classic movie "Pillow Talk," and on Thursday night September 28th  from 5-11:00PM, Walnut Hills’ Video Archive will screen "The Man Who Knew Too Much" along with clips of other Doris Day films, offer Doris Day-themed drinks, and host dogs on its patio for a “Yappy Hour” to benefit the Doris Day Animal Foundation.

Ms. Day is an animal lover and devotes her energy to the Doris Day Animal Foundation.  The opportunities for her Cincinnati celebrations  to provide for her foundation is meaningful to her – she states that she is “very grateful that as part of the celebration, a portion of Esquire Theatre’s September 27th screening of ‘Pillow Talk’, as well as a percentage of the Video Archive’s September 28th  movie marathon and “yappy hour” will benefit the Doris Day Animal Foundation (ddaf.org)—especially

at this time when the stranded, injured and displaced animals of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma need our help the most.”

WHAT:

WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 27

1:30PM: Public comment period where members of the public  can share their support for the street naming during City Council’s regular public comment (comment is limited to 2 minutes per person).

2:00PM: Secondary street dedication and Mayoral proclamation  of Doris Day Day.

7:00PM  The Esquire Theatre in Clifton will show "Pillow  Talk," co-starring Rock Hudson and Tony Randall. Tickets for the 7 p.m. screening are $10 and available at esquiretheatre.com. A portion of proceeds will benefit the Doris Day Animal Foundation (DDAF) and pets affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

THURSDAY, SEPT. 28

5-11:00PM  The Video Archive in Walnut Hills will hold a fundraiser for DDAF from 5-11 p.m. Sept. 28. Fans are invited to bring their dogs to the patio, where the Alfred Hitchcock thriller "The  Man Who Knew Too Much," starring Day and James Stewart, will  be shown. Day’s films will also rotate on other screens at the East McMillan Street video store and bar, which will serve Day-inspired drinks. No cover.