Did Your Family Know Young Doris Day?

Sep 19, 2017

Did someone in your family know young Doris Day?

Did they know her as Doris Mary Anne Kappelhoff, the promising young dancer-turned-singer from Evanston who grew up to be America's most popular movie star?

Maybe they took lessons with her at Hessler's Dance Studio in Mount Adams? Or went to Our Lady of Angels High School in St. Bernard with her? Or heard her sing on WLW-AM or with Barney Rapp's band?

Doris Day with cinematographer Wilfred Cline while making "Lucky" in 1954.
Credit Warner Bros.

If so, Cincinnati Councilman P.J. Sittenfeld wants to hear from you. He plans to have city council honor Doris Day Wednesday, Sept. 27, at the suggestion of Dr. Bob Maltz. (Call Sittenfeld's City Hall office at 513-352-5270 or email pg.sittenfeld@cincinnati-oh.gov)

The reclusive Day, 95, who lives in Carmel, Calif., will not attend the ceremony. A couple Doris Day films will be screened around town: "Pillow Talk" (1959) with Rock Hudson at The Esquire 7 p.m. Sept. 27, and "Man Who Knew Too Much" (1956) at Video Archive in Walnut Hills during a 5-11 p.m. party with Doris Day themed drinks and screenings.

Doris was born April 3, 1922, to William and Alma Kappelhoff of Evanston. He was a music director and choir master.

With Terry-Thomas in "Where Were You When The Lights Went Out?" in 1968.
Credit Courtesy MGM

At 15, Doris and Jerry Doherty were excellent dancers heading for Hollywood until Doris broke her leg in a car wreck in Hamilton in 1937. During her year-long recovery, Doris turned to singing. She performed on WLW-AM and around town before being hired by local bandleader Barney Rapp.

Rapp suggested Doris take the stage name "Day," after the song "Day by Day," because Kappelhoff was too long for a marquee.

Doris Day literally was the girl next door here until 1940, when Les Brown offered her $75 a week to sing for his Band of Renown.

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."

Doris Day's foundation helps pets and their owners.

As her movie career was winding down, she starred in "The Doris Day Show" situation comedy on CBS for  five seasons (1968-73) as a widow with two young boys who moves from a big city to a farm. 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.

Since the 1980s, Day has devoted her time to the foundation. She has not been seen much in public for many years. However, the reclusive star did grant an interview to Paul McCartney in Carmel in 2011 at the release of her last album, "My Heart," her first recording of new material in 17 years.