Actress and singer Doris Day, 97, died on Monday at her home in California. She did not lead a joyful life. Not a fan of her movies when I was growing up, I decided to watch Love Me or Leave Me, her 1955 movie with James Cagney, after I read her obituary in The New York Times (its obituaries are second to none). I’m glad I did. It’s a romantic musical drama based on the life of singer and actress Ruth Etting, who was popular in the 1920s and 1930s and was known as “America’s sweetheart of song” (Shine On, Harvest Moon, Button Up Your Overcoat, It All Depends On You). Day’s acting was so powerful and stirring that co-star Cagney “compared her performance to Laurette Taylor’s in The Glass Menagerie on Broadway in 1945, widely hailed as one of the greatest performances ever given by an American actor,” according to the obituary.
Day began a great love affair with dogs when she received one at 15, while she was recuperating from a serious car accident. “I have found that when you are deeply troubled, there are things you get from the silent, devoted companionship of your pets that you can get from no other source. I have never found in a human being loyalty comparable to that of any pet,” she was quoted as saying in The New York Times obituary.
I recommend reading the obit if you want to learn about the real Doris Day.