Hollywood icon Doris Day has died aged 97

Hanna Flint

Doris Day has passed away at the age of 97.

The death of the retired actress, known for her iconic roles in the late ‘50s and ‘60s, was announced by her charity foundation on Monday, 13 May.

The Doris Day Animal Foundation confirmed the star had died at her Carmel Valley, California, home surrounded by close friends.

“Day had been in excellent physical health for her age, until recently contracting a serious case of pneumonia, resulting in her death,” the foundation said in an emailed statement received by AP.

Doris Day has died (Credit: AP)

Day was a successful singer before she got her break in film in the 1948 film Romance on the High Seas that led her to become one of the biggest stars in Hollywood and earning acclaim for her roles in Calamity Jane, Love Me or Leave Me and Pillow Talk, which she earned a Best Actress Oscar nomination for.

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She also appeared in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much opposite James Stewart and brought her famous singing abilities to the song Que Sera Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be) which won which won the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1957.

Doris Day, is shown in this 1962 photo, was a recording star in the 1940s , and a popular film star from the early1950s through the early 1960s. (Credit: AP Photo)

In 1960 and 1962 to 1964, Day was ranked No. 1 at the box office by American Exhibitors but her last feature film performance was in the 1968 romantic-comedy With Six You Get Eggroll, directed by Howard Morris, and co-starring Brian Keith, Barbara Hershey, George Carlin, and Pat Carroll.

Day then went onto appear on TV in the CBS sitcom The Doris Day Show (1968–1973 before retiring from acting and focusing on animal welfare activism.

In 1978, she founded the Doris Day Pet Foundation, now the Doris Day Animal Foundation (DDAF), which has a mission of helping animals and those who care for them.

Doris Day had a film career that spanned 20 years (Credit: AP)

Day was married four times: to trombonist Al Jorden (m. 1941; div. 1943), saxophonist and songwriter George Weidler (m. 1946; div. 1949), agent and film producer Martin Melcher (m. 1951; died 1968) and Barry Comden (m. 1976; div. 1981) who was the maître d’ at her favourite restaurant.

She had one child, music producer Terry Melcher by her third husband, but he sadly died from melanoma in 2004 - the same year she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush.

Doris Day and son Terry Melcher in 1987 (Credit: Jim Smeal/WireImage)

Melcher famously worked with The Beach Boys and turned down aspiring musician Charles Manson. It was Melcher’s former house that the Manson family visited and murdered Sharon Tate and her friends in.

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According to Day in her autobiography, her son was the one who told her in 1969 that the $20 million she had earned from her exhaustive career had disappeared and that she was around $450,000 in debt.

Thankfully, in 1974, the actress won a $22.8 million judgment against her lawyer and business manager Jerome B. Rosenthal for mishandling her’s and Melcher’s assets.

Day released her 29th studio album called My Heart in 2011, aged 89, which debuted at No. 9 on the UK chart and she became the oldest artist to score a UK Top 10 with an album featuring new material.

The world of showbiz and entertainment has taken to social media to share their tributes:

As one of the last surviving stars of Hollywood’s Golden Age of Cinema, Doris Day’s death is one of great sadness but hopefully, a greater reminder of her contribution to the arts.