I saw a lot of movies in the late Forties and early Fifties. Crime and westerns when my Dad chose, musicals and comedies when it was my Mom's turn. So my movie going sort of coincided with the rise of Doris Day. She had one of those studio careers that are entertaining to read about because the moguls were so sure-footed (for once) in bringing her to prominence. I'm talking about her first career. The later one with Rock Hudson was a very different one. Philip French is an excellent biographer and essayist. Here's a portion of his take on Doris Day.
Philip French's Screen legends
No 7: Doris Day 1924-
Sunday March 9, 2008
She was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1924 as Doris von Kappelhoff and first made her name as a teenage singer, fending off the advances of musicians while touring in the big-band era. In her early twenties, she attracted the attention of Hollywood and was put under contract by Michael Curtiz, top director at Warner Brothers.
He directed her as a tough, gum-chewing chanteuse in It's Magic (aka Romance on the High Seas, 1948), which made her a movie star and for some years she alternated between playing band singers, usually exploited by the men she worshipped (as she was in real life) and serving as Warner's resident 'girl next door', a freckled ingenue with corn-fed charm. Her screen persona came to reflect the tug between professional independence and domestic submission that characterised postwar life in the Western world.
One of the best vocalists of her generation, as adept at mournful ballads as at cheerful, upbeat numbers, and a natural comedienne, she developed rapidly as an actor, holding her own with Cagney, Sinatra and Gable. A couple of her 1950s films were tough stuff: the 1951 melodrama Storm Warning in which she plays the shabby, abused wife of a Ku Klux Klan man in the Deep South (in effect A Streetcar Named Desire turned into a Warner Brothers social-conscience picture), and the 1955 biopic of Ruth Etting, Love Me or Leave Me, where Cagney played her abusive lover.
For the rest go here http://film.guardian.co.uk/news/story/0,,2263661,00.html