Did Doris retire too early?

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Did Doris retire too early?

Unread post by webmaster »

Ignoring the fact that you can't rewrite history and Doris had the right to do exactly what she wanted to do - did Doris retire too early?

This thought occurs to me as I watch Dolly Parton on TV live at the O2 in London a few years ago. London obviously loved her, aged 60 plus. and I couldn't help but think what a reception Doris would have gotten and what a thrill it would have been had she carried on being an entertainer. Doris left Hollywood aged 44 - that seems very young now. Bettye LaVette, who I do a website for, has lost none of her power in her sixties and I'm seeing her next week on her trip to London (and Paris) to promote her new CD.

As David Thompson said about Doris, "Her last movie - With Six You Get Egg Roll - was made in 1968, when she was a mere 44. (The television series ran from l968-73)... But 44 isn't so drastic, is it? Meryl Streep is 59; Jessica Lange is 60. (that was written a few years ago)... She did the TV series that Melcher had committed her to without her knowledge. And then she set about suing Melcher's lawyer for $22m. Don't mess with Doris, people said. Then she was gone". http://www.dorisday.net/Film_List/Cutes ... londe.html

I think the dogs got the best deal - let's face it, if you feed them, they'll love you!

I think I'm missing Doris. :(
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Re: Did Doris retire too early?

Unread post by lovemeorleaveme »

Too early, definitely, for our liking! :)

However, I do believe that Doris is exactly where she wants to be; she seems to have found contentment and happiness in her work for the animals. She has had no lack of offers over the years; but she has turned them all down in the interest of her work for the animals. To me, that shows that she feels the animals are more important than anything else.

I agree with you that the animals got the best deal (LOL); but as an animal lover, I can't feel too badly about that.

I'm with you--I MISS DORIS :(, but I'm happy to know that she is doing what she feels is right for her and her "four-leggers"! :)

God bless, and have a lovely "Day"!

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Re: Did Doris retire too early?

Unread post by suzie »

I actually think Doris stopped right on time. ( I would have loved to have seen her act after the age of 50 , or even into her 80s like Betty White has done ) but Doris always did have great timming and always knew when to bow out , while still being at the top of her game. Her true fans would have loved anything that she did . The work with the animals is much more fullfilling for Doris and it is her passion . :D
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Re: Did Doris retire too early?

Unread post by Bixby »

I admire her for leaving Hollywood when she did. As I have heard her say, things have changed since she worked with Rock Hudson, Clark Gable and Cary Grant and all the rest and she didn't much care for the changes.

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Re: Did Doris retire too early?

Unread post by mikeydv »

I agree with Suzie. All her life, Doris had PERFECT timing. She certainly vividly expresses the words in that song from the musical, MAME (OPEN A NEW WINDOW). Car accident: no more dancing..so start singing.
Go with the band that gives you the best deal (After all she was with Barney Rapp and Bob Crosby before Les Brown....Les gave her the best deal. I remember reading that she was the best paid band vocalist in the business (and also the most important and most recognized). The job at the Little Club in NY brought her the first recording contract as a single act. I believe she was instrumental in bringing about THE FEMALE SINGER concept of the 1950's. Before that, it was male dominated (And the females were chair adornments with Big Bands...who occasionally rose to the microphone to warble a few phrases at the end of the song). SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY changed all that, and when the recording contract was offered, she took it.Then, the opening for Hollywood came (and a chance to build her life with Terry and Alma, and she gave it her best shot, and it paid off.) Overnight, she became Warner Brothers' and Columbia Records GOLDEN GIRL. And so on and so on. As her son Terry was fond of saying: Doris always knew how (and when) to move on.

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Re: Did Doris retire too early?

Unread post by Jas1 »

I thinks we are all more of less of the same view, of course Doris could have continued singing and acting a a lot longer than she did and still do it wonderfully, however, her choice was right for her, as much as the fans would have loved more!

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Re: Did Doris retire too early?

Unread post by Lauren Benjamin »

Mike~
Very succinctly put. Can you or anyone explain why Warner Bros. produced "A Star is Born" with Judy Garland and not Doris? I believe Judy was at MGM, so they would have "borrowed" her to make the movie in 1954. If anyone knows the details of this venture, I would appreciate knowing about it. I hate to think that Warner Bros. pushed Doris aside. Perhaps it was a contractual in nature.

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Re: Did Doris retire too early?

Unread post by howard »

Lauren ... Judy was no longer contracted to MGM in 1954. I believe she was dropped by the studio after making "Summer Stock" with Gene Kelly in '50.
Like Irene Dunne done.

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Re: Did Doris retire too early?

Unread post by Lauren Benjamin »

According to IMdB.com, the movie was made at Warner Bros. in 1954, so maybe Doris' contract was up by then, if she first signed in 1947. Judy must have been a free agent at that time.

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Re: Did Doris retire too early?

Unread post by mikeydv »

Interesting question. Doris and Judy were both at Warner's at the same time. Doris was completing YOUNG AT HEART while Judy was doing STAR. My gut feeling is that Judy wanted that film very badly and she went after it. By then, Doris was anxious to pack it in at Warners.

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Re: Did Doris retire too early?

Unread post by doris-day-fan »

If Marty had lived, I wonder how long Doris would be working after her 5 years at CBS? He seemed to always push her into things - with or without her knowledge. Just curious. In reality, she gracefully bowed out of show business and then full speed into her passion, animal welfare.

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Re: Did Doris retire too early?

Unread post by webmaster »

Technically speaking, she DID retire too early, given the retirement age for women is 60, but of course she didn't need to keep working - at least not after The Doris Day Show. And she is also on record as saying she didn't retire, she just 'did something else'. The only other star of her calibre I can think of who did the same was Grace Kelly

You could think of a lot of 'what if?' scenarios about Doris' film career. What if she hadn't had a husband-manager? What if she'd been able to choose her film parts on merit? Doris is a very intelligent woman who to this day is very critical of her work and able to see the worthwhile from the throwaway. I think she got disillusioned with her film career after making a number of films that weren't worthy of her talent and status as a former No 1 box-office star. She went from co-stars like Hollywood legends Frank Sinatra, James Cagney, Clark Gable, David Niven, and Cary Grant - to Richard Harris, (did I read somewhere she didn't really know who he was and thought it was Sean Connery?) Peter Graves, Robert Morse and Brian Keith. Of her last film with Brian Keith, BBC Radio Times said, "Doris' best scenes are opposite a dog called Lord Nelson. There's a tired sixties gloss to the whole thing and it's easy to see why Doris called it a Day". Personally I enjoyed "With 6..." but I can see why people expected more.

I'm not criticising Doris here - she always gave 110% - she was just let down by bad projects at the end. So perhaps I've answered my own musings about why she retired so young? But she could have carried on as the great singer she was - but again she didn't want to. Our loss.
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Re: Did Doris retire too early?

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Image

Come back - all is forgiven! :) :(
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Re: Did Doris retire too early?

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Re Star is Born:

My understanding is that Sid Luft [Judy's husband/ manager] bought the option of remaking the film and set about trying to get a major studio to back it- this was very difficult as by this time Judy was notorious for being difficult to work with and termperamental since she 'left' MGM (as Howard stated) around 1950 and within these few short years, she was not seen as bankable at all - especially in a Hollywood ever more conscious of profit following the onset of television.

It was not therefore a case of this being a WB production from scratch where they may well have chosen to use their number one musical star [Miss Day] to star. The product came as a package- Judy et al and while Doris would have been superb too, Judy was brilliant in this role.

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Re: Did Doris retire too early?

Unread post by melancholy »

Of course we all would have loved having seen Doris in later movies,but I guess,what I think,she did the right thing.We can look back on a lovely movie-career.Not forgetting it was Marty who called the shots in her latest films.By then she somehow must have been very tired as she once stated,after having done the DD-shows.She had her well deserved rest,eventhough looking after doggies is quite some work.Getting up early in the morning has never been a problem for her,but at least she could move at her own pase.She must have been very relieved living her own life up until now,which keeps her on her toes.I am so grateful she is out there living the good life.
Dorine
As we journey under our individual umbrella's,we should not forget we all share the same sky.Doris Day

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Re: Did Doris retire too early?

Unread post by Jas1 »

Another thing Marty did that is sometimes overlooked and has most certainly been very financially beneficial to Miss Day through all these years is to:-
-set up Arwin and the the corresponding music publishing company to produce many of Doris' films and publish all her music. The percentage cut for films cannot be over-emphasised along with the music rights to the songs.

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Re: Did Doris retire too early?

Unread post by TCMMovieFan »

Regarding Doris' early retirement - I do not think she had many options. Her movie career had faded largely due to the fact that her final films were not very good and Hollywood is not too forgiving a place. She was also well into her 40's at the time and ageism is alive and well in the movie industry - there is a reluctance for Hollywood to provide starring roles to middle aged women and those that do survive ultimately wind up doing character parts which Doris might have had to do if she had somehow managed to continue her film career. This would not have been ideal situation. I also shudder to think what type of scripts she would have been given - the musicals were passe while her type of comedy was no longer in vogue. Maybe they would have put her in thriller movies - something along the lines of another JULIE or MIDNIGHT LACE or even STORM WARNING but she had already proved her metal in those types of films. She would have been limited by the industry and by the changing tastes.
DITTO for her singing. I will stick my neck out and say that her attempts at more modern songs - although good - were not quite as impressive as her earlier work. Perhaps its just me but note in her CBS TV Special with Perry Como. At the end of the program she sings BOTH SIDES NOW - quite beautifully though it really is not her type of song - then she launches into ITS MAGIC and finally SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY - one can really tell the difference because in those older songs - she is really basking and savoring these great tunes - and how can anyone possibly top that ?
She did not live LIVE performing so going throughout the world and making appearances a la ROSEMARY CLOONEY and/or PATTI PAGE would most likely have been out of the question. Also, TV Music Specials were being phased out.
The end of her careers really conincided with the deterioration of society and the general decline in good taste.

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Re: Did Doris retire too early?

Unread post by webmaster »

You've made some very good points there, TCM, and I can't argue with any of them. The point about Doris carrying on by making the high-drama type of film like Midnight Lace, although those kind of films, as we know, took a lot out of Doris and weren't happy experiences for her, made me think of the verging-on-horror films made by the likes of Bette Davis and Joan Crawford once they were no longer able to play 'leading ladies' (the love interest). Doris wanted to preserve her legacy and wasn't interested in continuing with unsuitable parts just to stay in the business and It would also have been hard for her to play second fiddle in character roles, I think.

As our late film reviewer, Ralph McKnight said of her last film, "With Six You Get Eggroll":
"Doris Day was at the end of her film career. Sex, almost hardcore, had landed on America's screens with films like "Carmen, Baby" and "Fuego", not to mention Mike Nichols's "The Graduate" which Marty Melcher, Day's husband/manager, turned down for Miss Day because he felt it was 'vulgar'. Unfortunately, she was not making her own decisions, because "The Graduate" could have saved her film career and carried her through the '70s. But, I don't regret Melcher's vision. Doris Day's image on the screen will always remain youthful and beautiful, like Marilyn Monroe's, for all time.
......
Even Doris Day had no idea that this would be her final film. In real-life, Marty Melcher died, she discovered he had squandered her vast fortune and, without her knowledge, signed Miss Day to star in a television series at CBS. So went her film career.
Ralph McKnight, New York, July 2000
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Re: Did Doris retire too early?

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I think the point to bear in mind is that Doris could have worked: a lot in later years, if she wanted to: it is just she didn't. The quality of the scripts, well, we will never know! She was offered several (and probably a lot more) quality roles and turned them down. We know about the Graduate; West Side Waltz, The Mother, and wasn't she offered (I can't think of the title at present- the part went to Mary Tyler Moore around 1980 - (something) 'People')? - 'Ordinary People'.

In addition to films, there were copious TV offers that again Doris turned down, including Dallas, Dynasty, Murder she Wrote and several other projects that never came to pass.

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Re: Did Doris retire too early?

Unread post by doris-day-fan »

It has been very interesting reading everyone's comments on this subject, but I think TCM put it in a nutshell which I really do believe...."The end of her career really coincided with the deterioration of society and the general decline in good taste."

Doris was smart to go out while still on top...she didn't have to stoop to do some schlock movies, TV, etc. She is one CLASS ACT (which does not really exist today)...why does everything have to be so raunchy, full of sex or exploding all the time. Don't know about all of you, but I am darn glad I grew up when I did...I feel sorry for the sad state of affairs this world is in today - pity the kids who have to face such filth. loss of innocence, and vulgar world today. Boy, do I sound old, but it was much better years ago - Doris stood for goodness, and never had to stoop to vulgarity to be popular. I repeat, Doris has CLASS and it shows! Hope everyone is enjoying the summer....stay cool!

Mary Anne
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Re: Did Doris retire too early?

Unread post by Lauren Benjamin »

I totally agree.

Lauren

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Re: Did Doris retire too early?

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I agree also. Well said, Mary Anne!
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Re: Did Doris retire too early?

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Doris is CLASS for sure!! I respect her most for quitting when she did, because she didn' want to be a part of the changing times.

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Re: Did Doris retire too early?

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There were a couple of interesting offers that might have worked out very well. In particular, when Ross Hunter left Universal in the early 70's and set-up camp at Columbia. He was initially set to produce "Forty Carats" the movie version of the Broadway comedy that was a huge success on stage with Julie Harris. It ran for several years and such stars as Lana Turner and Ginger Rogers toured with it. The script was funny, sophisticated and would have enabled Miss Day to play a divorced mother in her 40's who falls in love with a younger man. When advance word on Hunter's first Columbia film, the musical version of "Lost Horizon" was so bad, the studio gave "Forty Carats" to their "reliable" in-house producer Mike Frankovich who cast Liv Ullmann in the film, which flopped. Liv did not understand American sophisticated comedy. In 1969 there was a proposal to do a musical version of "The African Queen" with Miss Day and Lee Marvin. Marvin was, at the time doing the musical "Paint Your Wagon". Richard Zanuck also wanted her for "Hello Dolly" even after Streisand had been signed and when Barbra began causing problems on the set, he told a columnist, Joyce Haber, that he was ready to fire Barbra and replace her with Doris Day. Likewise, the proposed "Pillow Talk" follow-up in the early 80's with Rock, Tony, Kristy McNichol and Timothy Hutton was a very funny film and had Rock not passed away, it would have been a worthy vehicle. Miss Day was mentioned for 1977's "The Turning Point" but she had recently remarried when the script was presented. Others who were mentioned included Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly before they settled on Anne Bancroft and Shirley MacLaine. Robert Redford did take her on a business dinner in 1979 to discuss "Ordinary People" but at the time she was purchasing the land in Carmel, trying to work on problems in her marriage and not really wanting to work. In the late 70's she also turned down a role in Robert Stigwood's disastrous "Sgt. Pepper"

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Re: Did Doris retire too early?

Unread post by Jas1 »

Thanks Paul (as always) for the wealth of information.

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