Hollywood icon Doris Day dies aged 97

The actress and singer, who starred in Calamity Jane, The Man Who Knew Too Much and many more, passed away at her home in California

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Hollywood star Doris Day has died aged 97.

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The actress and singer, who starred in 1953 musical hit Calamity Jane, passed away at her home in California.

A statement from The Doris Day Animal Foundation confirmed that she died 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 statement said.

Day became one of the biggest screen actresses in history, starring in romantic comedy classics including her Oscar-nominated role in 1959 film Pillow Talk.

She was also a remarkable singer and recording artist, performing Oscar-winning song Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be Will Be) in the Alfred Hitchcock film The Man Who Knew Too Much.

Day made her big screen debut in 1948 film It’s Magic (aka Romance on the High Seas), three years after she had released her first hit record Sentimental Journey aged just 23.

The actress’s screen partnership with Rock Hudson became one of the biggest box office draws of early 1960s Hollywood. They appeared together in Pillow Talk, Lover Come Back (1961) and Send Me No Flowers (1964).

Despite being known for her wholesome image in an age of Hollywood innocence, Day wrote in her 1975 autobiography that she was baffled by the idea that she cultivated that reputation.

“The succession of cheerful, period musicals I made, plus Oscar Levant’s highly publicised comment about my virginity (‘I knew Doris Day before she became a virgin’), contributed to what has been called my ‘image,’ which is a word that baffles me. There never was any intent on my part either in my acting or in my private life to create any such thing as an image,” she said.

Day later appeared in long-running CBS series The Doris Day Show.

Day’s album My Heart saw her set a UK music record in 2011 when, aged 87, she became the oldest artist to secure a UK Top 10.

Day was also a high profile campaigner for animal rights, setting up the precursor to The Doris Day Animal Foundation in 1978.

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“Affectionately known to some as ‘The Dog Catcher of Beverly Hills,’ Doris would often find unwanted dogs dropped off at her gate,” the charity’s website explained. “It was not uncommon for her to knock on neighbours’ doors in an attempt to reunite lost dogs with their owners or check to make sure those that were either reunited or in new homes were doing well and receiving proper care and attention.”