Tea with Doris Day? How gay!

“You take the grey skies outta my way

You make the sun shine brighter than Doris Day

You turned a bright spark into a flame

My beats per minute never been the same”

George Michael, Wham!’s Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go

Of course the very name Doris Day, cheerful as a sunrise on a studio lot, was an invention, but no matter, but it seeing that it was already two years since the Hollywood star born Doris von Kappelhoff had died, aged 97.

In the 1940s, ‘50s and ‘60s she did her wholesome thing in 39 feature films opposite actors like Rock Hudson, Cary Grant and James Stewart, the latter as a Hitchcock blonde in the 1956 version of The Man Who Knew Too Much. Set in London, it’s the thriller where she memorably sang Que Sera Sera.

Sky Arts also aired a programme called Discovering Doris Day where, among the requisite talking heads there was an old associate who remarked how that sunny disposition wasn’t an act. She really was, while not necessarily Miss Goody Two Shoes the Virgin Queen that she was initially billed as, at the very least was not in the least bit as cynical as most of us and only saw the good in people. 

It reminded me of a conversation I had some years ago with a Bradford chap called Chillo, a close friend of my then partner, who had told me how he was a huge Doris Day fan and during a holiday in California in the 1980s decided to look up where she lived: a buttercup yellow retreat in the valley near Carmel-by-the-Sea, the ocean enclave where Clint Eastwood was mayor at the time.

By all accounts the property was as light, bright and sunny as her demeanour. Not only that but he knocked on the door, and, amazingly, not only did she answer it but when he told her he was a great admirer and he’d come all the way from England, she promptly invited him in for afternoon tea! 

Now that’s what I call a sweetheart.

For what it’s worth, in 2016, we decided not to go house hunting…

You can imagine how over the moon he would have been. Sadly, I don’t have access to his photos (he died in 2008) but indeed I saw the fuzzy Instamatic prints; it really happened.

What a lady. What a legend.

We could do with a few less grey skies right now.

Steve Pafford

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