Legendary actress and LGBTQ icon Doris Day died at her home in Carmel Valley, Calif. early Monday morning surrounded by close friends, according to the Doris Day Animal Foundation. She was 97.
“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 to the Associated Press.
Born Doris Mary Ann Keppelhoff in Cincinnati, Ohio on April 13, 1922, Day began her career as a singer before launching into a film career. Day continued to record music making her one of the most recognizable singers of the 20th century.
Her first major movie role was in the 1948 film “Romance on the High Seas.” The role sparked a successful film career and Day became box-office gold.
She went on to star in the 1953 film “Calamity Jane,” as the title character. She sang the song’s hit “Secret Love.” The song eventually would become an LGBT anthem.
“Once I had a secret love / That lived within the heart of me / All too soon my secret love / Became impatient to be free,” Day sings. “Now I shout it from the highest hills / Even told the golden daffodils / At last my heart’s an open door / And my secret love’s no secret anymore.”
Day was known for her work and friendship with gay actor Rock Hudson, who died from AIDS-related complications in 1985. The pair starred together in films such as “Pillow Talk” (1959) and “Lover Come Back” (1961).
Her other notable projects included “Love Me or Leave Me” (1955) and the film adaptation of the Broadway musical “The Pajama Game” (1956). She also starred opposite James Stewart in the 1956 Alfred Hitchcock thriller “The Man Who Knew Too Much” and performed the film’s title song “Que Sera Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be).”
Day also starred in her own sitcom “The Doris Day Show” from 1968-1973.
Despite her robust film career, Day never won an Academy Award but was nominated for Best Actress at the Academy Awards in 1959 for her role in “Pillow Talk.” In 2004, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by George W. Bush who said it’s “a good day for America when Doris Marianne von Kappelhoff of Evanston, Ohio decided to become an entertainer.”
In later years, she shifted from Hollywood to animal welfare activism and founded the Doris Day Animal Foundation in 1978.
Day reportedly requested to be laid to rest with “no funeral or memorial service and no grave marker.”