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People Who Matter: An Interview with Doris Day


Doris & Nellie

April 3, 2012, marks the 88th birthday of Doris Day — adored for her nonpareil career as a singer and actress, and equally admired for her dedication to animal welfare and the creation of the Doris Day Animal Foundation. In 2006, Bark had the opportunity to interview Ms. Day by phone, and was joined by singer Nellie McKay, an incredible singer and animal activist in her own right.

She said "Call me Doris," and my heart leapt with joy. How do you describe her voice? A smoothie cocktail with a southern inflection—warm, rounded and welcoming. I was dying to tell her about my Uncle Patrick, who entered adolescence listening to her records because he thought her purring voice was the sexiest sound on earth.


There was also the time I fled a screening of G.I. Jane to escape to a better place, courtesy of my Young Man with a Horn LP. Doris Day was always a refuge for me, transporting me to a time of innocent romance, when there were no bad hair days, men had good manners, and the music was pleasant and sweet.


These days, I have fewer illusions, but Doris Day continues to inspire me, because even  though the world can be ruthless and inhumane, we still have people like her working to help those less fortunate. Through her Animal League and Foundation, Doris Day is a beacon of hope for the animals who need our help so badly.


Talking to her was a dream come true—there's no one I admire more.

 —Nellie McKay, Recipient of the 2005 Doris Day Music Award

Cameron Woo: I must tell you that I’m quite a fan of yours. Some of the first films I recall are the movies you made with Gordon MacCrae…

Doris Day: Silvery Moon and Moonlight Bay—I loved doing those. You know, if life could be like it was in those movies, it would be beautiful, wouldn’t it?

Nellie McKay: Every time I hear one of your records or see one of your movies, the world becomes that way for me, if just for the length of the record or movie. It’s that transporting.

DD: Oh, what a compliment. I had the best costars you could ever have, and I miss them so much. We had such a great time working together. Some years ago, I made a special with John Denver and was asked to sing Memories, Barbra Streisand’s song, which she did so beautifully. Then I was told that huge pictures of all of my leading men would be shown as I sang, and I said, “Oh my God, how do you expect me to get though that?” But I did it.

NM: Your autobiography is incredible—you have such heart.

DD: Well, I’ve been through everything. I always said I was like those round-bottomed circus dolls—you know, those dolls you could push down and they’d come back up? I’ve always been like that. I’ve always said, “No matter what happens, if I get pushed down, I’m going to come right back up.”

CW: You’ve been such a success in an amazing range of careers, from singer to actress to animal activist. What moved you to begin speaking out for animals?

DD: You have to do things, you have to step out and stick up for animals, because they can’t do anything for themselves. And really, I’ve been led by God to everything I’ve done in my life. I’ve been put here and put there—out of Cincinnati and into a band, then to Hollywood, and now, the foundation and animal league.

CW: Can you talk a little bit about the Katrina rescue effort? I know your group was instrumental in one of the airlifts; I understand those animals went to Santa Cruz.

DD: Yes, right to Santa Cruz. Some were quite ill and couldn’t be put on the plane, so people drove to the Gulf Coast and brought the sick ones back by car. Both groups were accompanied by a veterinarian. They’re coming in every few days from Santa Cruz and whenever they’re brought in, I’m there. The hard part is that I want them all!



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Submitted by Leslie Smith | January 29 2010 |

I was just on your website, looking for the submissions guidelines, and I couldn't resist clicking on a few stories -- particularly the Doris Day piece. I'm a huge admirer of all her work, not the least of which is her animal advocacy. Thank you for this informative interview with one of my favorite stars. And I have to add that I'm a current fan of Nellie McKay's Blueberry Pie album. All the best, Leslie Smith

Submitted by Nancy | May 16 2010 |

Hello, Ms Doris Day~

I'm 63 years old, and have been an animal rights activist since my early 20's. I can't remember a time in my life when I didn't have a companion animal - well, not when I went away to college - no dogs!
For a long time, I was a member of DDAL. Unfortunately, my husband (a severely disabled Vietnam veteran) was going through a rough patch in his life. He was unable to work, and I was on 100% diaability. Money was meager, so I had to stop my contributions. It was a sad time in my life, but I did continue to boycotte shops that sold fur clothing, helped to close pet stores, and went with friends to rescue dogs in puppy mills. If I had no money to give to animal rights organizations like DDAL, then I'd help by aiding my like-minded friends in getting pathetically treated dogs away from horrid people who were treating them like scum. Many of them came home with me, and my dear friends. We've had loving, precious dogs come into our family and leave us with an empty feeling. At one time, we had eight dogs; we're "down to" two dogs. A "mostly" Great Pyrenees who came from a puppy mill; her name is Layla, and she recently had her 13th birthday. Layla's pal is Shamus, a Cairn Terrier, who was rescued from a horrid situation. Our home was reposed, we were forced to file bankruptcy, we're living in a small home that we rent. It's been a difficult two years, but our loving companion animals keep us sane. A life without our wee ones would be an empty life.
I love your movies; I love your part in "Calamity Jane" - Wonderful!!!! I'm certain that you made sure that all of the majestic horses were treated with love, kindness, and no harm came to any of them.
Bless You for the wonderful work you do for all animals in dire need of love and gentleness. All dogs need a loving Forever Home!!!

Nancy A. Speed
Tulsa OK

Submitted by Judy Boisen | January 26 2011 |

Hi Doris: I am a 68 year old grandmother who has seen all your movies at least once and have copies of the silvery moon, moonlight bay and tea for two. I was absolutely in love with Gordon MacRae in those movies. And you were my idol. It was such a wonderful time era those movies were in. I just want you to know MY childhood was all the happier because I could go to the theatre for 12 cents and see you on the big screen. Thanks for the memories!!!! jdybsn@meltel.net.

Submitted by Bob Stadler | February 22 2011 |

Doris,you have always been its magic,to me.

Submitted by Karren Garces | April 4 2012 |

Doris Day has been my role model for 43 years. Meeting her has been at the top of my bucket list ever since I watched her first movie as a child and listened to my mom play her records. I started collecting all her music and movies and listen to it today. She makes me happy. We also share a great love for dogs and rescuing in common. Among many other things, I became a groomer and have taken my artist gift and translated my passion for dogs into fine art / pop art pet portraits. See more at www.karrenmgarces.com

Submitted by Sondra | April 3 2014 |

I love Doris Day. She was and still is the epitome of humane. Not only for her extremely huge talent but her voice for all animals that cannot speak for themselves. It says so much about her. More people should give to animals their unconditional love because animals give unconditional love to us.
She also happened to be quite a fashionista and wore and looked fabulous in everything.

Submitted by Sue Dicus Ferguson | April 3 2014 |

Loved all your movies, your songs and dancing. So light hearted. You are beautiful inside and out. My friends told me when I was younger I looked a lot like you with my freckles and blonde hair. :) I am a animal lover and have 2 dogs and a cat. I would have more but can't afford. Happy Birthday to you Doris. Your one in a million. :) Cheers. I'm 67 yrs old, born January 15, 1947.

Submitted by Kathy D | April 6 2014 |

I have been a fan of Doris Day since I was a very young girl. I am now 74 yrs. old. She was superb role model for us young girls back when. Thank you Miss Day very much for that. Your songs and films have always been a joy and will never grow old! Happy 90th birthday.

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