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Doris Day Is Dead at 97; Movie Star Who Charmed America

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That proved to be a wise move financially; “The Doris Day Show” had an extremely successful five-year run. (It underwent a number of changes in that time. Ms. Day’s character, a widow who lived on a ranch with her two children, got a job at a magazine in San Francisco in the show’s second season, and by the fourth season her children had been written out of the show.)

James Garner, who co-starred with Ms. Day in two 1963 films, “The Thrill of It All” and “Move Over, Darling,” told Mr. Hotchner, “Marty was a hustler, a shallow, insecure hustler who always ripped off $50,000 on every one of Doris’s films as the price for making the deal.”

Ms. Day sued the lawyer, Jerome Rosenthal, and eventually won a judgment for more than $22 million in 1974. In a 1986 interview Terry Melcher, her son by Al Jorden, said that she eventually got some of the money from an insurance company but “nothing like that amount.”

In 1976 Ms. Day married Barry Comden, a sometime restaurant manager 11 years her junior. They were divorced in 1981. During her marriage to Mr. Comden, she moved from Los Angeles to Carmel Valley, and she and her son became part owners of the pet-friendly Cypress Inn in the nearby beach town Carmel-by-the-Sea. For the rest of her life she lived on a seven-acre estate with many more dogs than the zoning laws allowed. In the 1985-86 television season she was the host of “Doris Day’s Best Friends,” on the Christian Broadcasting Network, which focused on animal welfare.

Terry Melcher, her only child, who became a successful record producer, died in 2004. Information on survivors was not immediately available.

In 2011, three years after she received a lifetime achievement Grammy Award, Ms. Day surprised a lot of people by releasing her first album in almost 20 years, “My Heart,” which consisted mostly of songs she had recorded for “Doris Day’s Best Friends” but never released commercially.

Ms. Day, who summed up her fatalistic philosophy in the words of one of her biggest hits, “Que Sera, Sera” (“What will be, will be”), never liked unhappy endings. She told one interviewer: “It upsets me when the hero or heroine dies. I would like them to live happily ever after.”



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