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TCM Tribute to Doris Day - Preview: A Star's Star

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The word "star" is bandied about far too easily these days. In the early days of Hollywood, it was a title that was earned through being an all-around performer and hard work perfecting one's craft through studio systems. If you could sing, dance, do drama and comedy, you had all the makings of a star. And for a two-decade span of movies from 1948-1968 no one was a bigger star than Doris Day.

This Sunday, June 9, Turner Classic Movies pays tribute to the life and career of Doris Day, who died in May at the age of 97. The 24-hour, 13 movie marathon began early in the morning with her 1948 film debut Romance on the High Seas and includes such standout performances as Love Me or Leave Me, Calamity Jane, Please Don't Eat the Daisies, Move Over, Darling, and two of her iconic pairings with Rock Hudson, Pillow Talk(for which she received her only Best Actress Oscar® nomination) and Lover Come Back. It is such a marvelous line up of great films that you'll have no choice but to put your television on the TCM channel and leave it there all day. Have plenty of popcorn and refreshments handy because once you begin watching you won't want to stop.

Some little-known facts about Doris Day that may surprise those unfamiliar with her work. She began her career as a big band singer with Les Brown and his Band of Renown, until signing a contract with Warner Brothers when she was in her early 20's. She had a massive hit with the song, Sentimental Journey, and later was the recipient of a Grammy® Lifetime achievement award.

She is widely known for a series of romantic comedies with such co-stars as James Garner, Tony Randall and most notably Rock Hudson, with whom she shared a wonderful chemistry and lifelong friendship. What few realize that despite the light-hearted nature of the films she was a trailblazer in that most of her characters in these films of the late 1950s and 1960s, were all young, single, successful and independent businesswomen. Day is also revered as an accomplished musical actress, some of her biggest hits in that genre include, On Moonlight Bay with Gordon McRae, Love Me or Leave Me with James Cagney, Jumbo with Jimmy Durante, Pajama Game with John Raitt and Calamity Jane with Howard Keel (which she reportedly admitted in an interview was her favorite film). Calamity Jane also features her singing Secret Love, the first of two film songs in her career that went on to win Oscars™. The other was Que Sera, Sera which Alfred Hitchcock had her sing in his thriller, The Man Who Knew Too Much. That song went on to become her theme song.

And while her romantic comedy and musical body of work was her claim to fame, Doris Day was a very accomplished and underrated dramatic actress. Her dramatic films featured co-stars that were a who's who of Hollywood's leading men of that era. She made films with such stars as the previously mentioned Rock Hudson, James Cagney, Howard Keel, Gordon McRae and James Garner, but also included Clark Gable, Cary Grant, Kirk Douglas, Frank Sinatra, David Niven, Jimmy Stewart, Ronald Reagan, Rex Harrison, Rod Taylor, and Louis Jourdan. And she worked with such acclaimed directors as Alfred Hitchcock, Michael Curtiz, and Stanley Donen.In 1989, the Golden Globes® honored her body of work with the Cecil B. DeMille Award.

After leaving films she became star of a successful television sit-com, The Doris Day Show which ran for five years on CBS. She also earned great respect for her years of work as an animal rights benefactor creating the Doris Day Pet Foundation and the Doris Day Animal League that later merged with the Humane Society.

The TCM Tribute to Doris Day is the perfect way to spend a day appreciating the talents of one of the last great stars of Hollywood. And after watching those if you'd like to enjoy even more of her great work, I highly recommend some of my favorites not included in this tribute. Those are Young at Heart, Teacher's Pet, Pajama Game, Jumbo, Young Man with a Horn, It Happened to Jane, That Touch of Mink, The Thrill of It All, and Midnight Lace.

What are some of your favorite Doris Day movies? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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