Celebrities, fans, help celebrate Doris Day’s birthday
By CARLY MAYBERRY | [email protected]
| Monterey Herald | March 30 2019 at 12:21 pm
CARMEL — The pilgrimage that devoted Doris Day fans make to Carmel every spring in celebration of the beloved actress/singer’s birthday hasn’t waned since it began many years ago.
On Thursday, the Doris Day Animal Foundation kicked off the weekend of events leading up to Day’s birthday with a VIP reception at the Cypress Inn. Present was TV host and personality Peter Marshall (perhaps best known as the original host of The Hollywood Squares) along with impressionist Rich Little and Jackie Joseph, Day’s co-star in the 1960s-70s television show “The Doris Day Show.” Jazz vocalist Karen Oberlin performed for those in attendance, many of whom traveled from across the globe to honor the beloved actress/singer.
The celebration honoring Day’s birthday has grown over the years but really became a celebration for her fans and locals in 2014.
Day, who lives at Quail Ranch and rarely attends the events, (the last time she made an appearance was in 2014 for her 92nd birthday) turns 97 on Wednesday.
Singer/entertainer Scott Dreier, right, who has performed a Doris Day tribute show, chats with Laurie Marshall. (Carly Mayberry – Monterey Herald)
“Her movies have lasted the test of time,” said Lea Price, director of communications for the Doris Day Animal Foundation. “She exudes that positive energy that everybody loves to be associated with.”
Day has been a Carmel resident for over 40 years and is widely credited with making the town more dog-friendly and setting the same trend for other towns.
Price said this year’s three-day event was the biggest yet in terms of the number of entertainers who have come out to celebrate Day and support the Doris Day Animal Foundation.
On Friday, Turner Classic Movies primetime host Ben Mankiewicz introduced the 60th anniversary screening of one of Day’s most popular films “Pillow Talk” followed by a Q&A, which featured Day’s co-stars throughout the years including Jackie Joseph, Marshall, Little and Oberlin. A live auction followed. Saturday evening featured performances by Little and Ambassador of the American Songbook Michael Feinstein.
Marshall’s history with Day goes back as far as the early ‘40s when Day performed with band leader Les Brown. Marshall appeared in the 1951 film “Starlift” that starred Day.
While he and his wife have been coming to Carmel for years for the event and to visit relatives, he noted the sadness the two felt while strolling Carmel Beach this time around without their dog Teddy Bear who had passed away since their last visit.
Singer/entertainer Scott Dreier, who has performed at Day’s past birthday bashes and whose entire show “Doris and Me” pays tribute to the actress/singer’s career, was also perusing the packed crowd Thursday inside the Cypress Inn. He said that what makes Day so special is the quality of accessibility she always portrayed in her roles.
“Whether it was dancing with Gene Nelson, comedy with Rock Hudson or doing serious scenes with Jimmy Stewart, everything she did was so real,” said Dreier. “She always lets you in.”
Dreier grew up in an extremely conservative home where television viewing was restricted only to the weekend afternoon feature “The Family Film Festival” with Tom Hatten. The show often featured Day.
Comedian Rich Little, center, and former Celebrity Squares host Peter Marshall, right, chat during a reception at the Cypress Inn. (Carly Mayberry – Herald Correspondent)
But as in years past it was the lesser-known Doris Day fans who made up the events’ biggest presence. Thursday’s reception had 150 attendees while Friday’s screening and Q&A was sold out with 350 and Saturday with 300.
“I’ve loved Doris Day all my life,” said Heidi Addison, through her thick Scottish brogue, reminiscing how she and her sister would imitate Day’s singing when they played with Barbies as a little girls. Addison’s wife Jeanie Scott had given her the trip from Scotland to Carmel as a Christmas present.
“I’ve seen ‘Calamity Jane’ about a million times. Nobody has a bad thing to say about her. She’s just like an angel,” added Addison.
Jay Lewis had also bought his wife Karen the trip to the three-day event/fundraiser as a Christmas present. In his mind, the only person who could match Day’s love of animals was his “horse whisperer” wife.
Artist/journalist/producer Danny Proctor traveled all the way from Nashville for the festivities.
“I’ve always wanted to meet her,” said Proctor, who enjoyed chatting with Joseph about her time in show business and close relationship with Day.
Joseph, now in her 80s, comes to the event as often as she’s able.
“Time is going by – I’m 85 and Doris is in her 90s so it’s important to see her,” said Joseph.
For his part, Little recalled working with Day some 40 years back and said he hadn’t seen her since, noting his sadness about that and hopes he eventually would.
Still, Price said Day appreciates and cherishes every single fan and expression of appreciation.
“She reads every letter and every card, even if she can’t answer them all,” said Price. “The outpouring of love she receives from around the world is truly amazing.”
Said Joseph, “The local people should know they have gold dust living in the hills.”
“There is no one like Doris Day,” added Dreier. “She is more than you’d expect her to be and she brought animals to Carmel and made them fashionable.”
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