Actress Doris Day dies at 97

Doris Day, 97, the songbird who soared to screen stardom on a Technicolor sunbeam, died early Monday at her home in Carmel Valley, Calif.

“Day had been in excellent physical health for her age, until recently contracting a serious case of pneumonia, resulting in her death,” the Doris Day Animal Foundation said in a statement.

The onetime big-band singer with the apple cheeks, cornflower-blue eyes, and corn-tasseled hair was beloved for her popular songs, films, and wholesomeness. It is hard to name another figure whose sunny persona was so at odds with her stormy life.

That disparity says as much about Miss Day’s soothing, lullaby voice and image as it does about an industry that cast her as the eternal virgin in a series of hugely popular sex comedies without sex. Her virtue was a national joke (Oscar Levant quipped that he knew Doris Day before she was a virgin), her talent a national treasure.

She was not a contradiction but a multimedia phenom who from the first irresistibly created the impression of being both corn-fed and carnal.

Throughout her career, Miss Day was the sunniest of subversives, standing firm against the prevailing winds. During World War II, she was bubblegum-brazen among bobby-soxers, a freckled teenage recording sensation who posed suggestively for magazines as Madonna would decades later.

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