×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Doris Day, Chanteuse: Five of Her Greatest Musical Performances

Doris Day may have died with a reputation of being Hollywood’s most scrubbed-clean and wholesome girl-next-door type. But she made it to the big screen courtesy her warmly simmering and easily quavering vocal tones. Before films beckoned, she was a featured vocalist with big band-era kings such as Bob Crosby (Bing’s brother) and Les Brown and His Band of Renown, the latter of which recorded Day sunnily crooning “Sentimental Journey” and “My Dreams Are Getting Better All the Time.”

While both ballads made her the toast of radio fans and World War II vets coming home from the battlefront in 1945, Day had so much more to offer during her sadly abbreviated singing career — which included one album released in the 21st century, “My Heart,” and a host of previously unreleased songs she recorded with her composer-producer son, the late Terry Melcher.

Here are some signature smashes and cool surprises from Doris Day.

“Embraceable You” (1944, a radio track with the Victory Parade Of Spotlight Bands Orchestra directed by Les Brown)
Billie Holiday’s recording of George and Ira Gershwin’s slow, jazzy ballad from the same year as Day’s side is the more famous version, maybe rightly so. But, listening to the playfully dramatic and sensual manner in which Day shushes her “s” sounds and vamps her way through its finale — pure magic.

“The Very Thought of You” (1950, from “Young Man with a Horn”)
Representing Day’s move from big band singer into Hollywood musical actress, this surprisingly complex Ray Noble song — as well as a handful of other tunes such as “The Man I Love” and “Too Marvelous for Words,” recorded after the film’s production — finds Day gently bringing her past into her present with delicious nuance and soul. Harry James’ potent and thrilling trumpet solos are a handsome counterpart to Day’s pretty winnowing.

“I Just Blew In From the Windy City” (1953, the film “Calamity Jane”)
For a richly expressive and clearly annunciating vocalist such as Day, acting and singing in Hollywood film musicals allowed the opportunity to combine her talents and truly pout across a song’s intention within the context of its script. Written by Sammy Fain and Paul Francis Webster, this hammy Western-stylized tune shows Day picking off a host of her character’s ticks and eccentricity with every note.

“Ten Cents a Dance” (1955, the film “Love Me or Leave Me”)
Portraying real-life jazz chanteuse Ruth Etting — in a film that followed her life from dime-a-dance hall hostess to celebrated songstress (courtesy Chicago mobster Moe Snyder, played by James Cagney) — gave Day something darkly dramatic to chew … not just as an actress, but as a vocalist. The strength, vulnerability, passion and pathos found in her rendition of the Richard Rodgers/Lorenz Hart barroom classic will leave you weak. Quite frankly, her entire soundtrack to “Love Me or Leave Me” is beguiling.

“Que Será, Será (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)” (1956, Academy Award Winner for Best Original Song, “The Man Who Knew Too Much”)
Day’s sunshiny signature number comes, oddly enough, from a part in Alfred Hitchcock’s mystery classic, “The Man Who Knew Too Much.” The vocalist toys with the ‎Jay Livingston/Ray Evans track the way a cat would play with a toy, tickling it and slapping it lightly with her claws. Eventually, Day would wind up whistling and intoning its happy verses again in the 1966 film “The Glass Bottom Boat,” accompanied by Arthur Godfrey on ukulele, no less. But Hitchcock had it first, and best.

More Film

  • Joker

    'Joker' Sequel Being Explored by Todd Phillips, Warner Bros.

    “Joker,” the $1 billion-grossing comic-book smash, may take another look at the fraying mind of Arthur Fleck. Warner Bros. film chief Toby Emmerich has met with writer and director Todd Phillips and co-writer Scott Silver to explore possible ideas for a sequel to the drama about the early days of the Clown Prince of Crime. [...]

  • Mindy Kaling photographed by Victoria Stevens

    Mindy Kaling to Host 22nd Costume Designer Guild Awards

    Mindy Kaling announced Wednesday that she will host the 22nd Costume Designers Guild Awards. “I’m thrilled to be hosting the Costumes Designers Guild Awards. Costume design and fashion are close to my heart, and I promise many, possibly too many, outfit changes,” Kaling wrote on Instagram. View this post on Instagram Hey guys! I’m so [...]

  • FROZEN 2 - In Walt Disney

    Will 'Frozen 2' Heat Up a Frosty Box Office?

    How enduring is “Frozen” fever? Six years after audiences were first introduced to Princesses Anna and Elsa, Disney is returning to Arendelle this weekend with the big-screen debut of “Frozen 2. The original made history as the highest-grossing animated movie ever, raking in $1.2 billion worldwide in 2013. This time around, the powerful sisters are [...]

  • Nederland, Amsterdam, 09-10-2019-Orwa Nyrabia, artistic director

    IDFA Artistic Director Orwa Nyrabia on Documentary Cinema's Bright Future

    “Where do you want to start,” Orwa Nyrabia says, with a smile. “I’m in full festival mode!” Just a year into the job and Nyrabia, IDFA’s artistic director, can’t wait to get stuck into his second edition. The festival’s founder, Ally Derks, who bowed out in 2017 after 30 years at the helm, was a [...]

  • Timothee Chalamet poses for photographers at

    Timothée Chalamet to Make London Stage Debut With Eileen Atkins in '4000 Miles'

    Timothee Chalemet is set to take to the London stage for the first time, appearing next spring in Amy Herzog’s Pulitzer Prize-nominated play “4000 Miles.” Matthew Warchus will direct the production at The Old Vic, which will also star Eileen Atkins (“The Crown,” “Gosford Park”). The play opens April 2020. It turns on the story [...]

  • CJ-CGV Cinemas

    CJ CGV Sells $286 Million Stake in Asian Cinema Businesses

    CJ CGV, the Korean movie theaters giant, is to raise $286 million from the sale of a slice of its Indonesian, Vietnamese and Chinese businesses. The company, which has its own stock market listing and is affiliated to the CJ Group, which includes CJ E&M and CJ Entertainment, said this week that it had sold [...]

  • Taiwanese director Fu Yue

    China, Taiwan in Film Awards Face-off With Roosters, Horses Scheduled on Same Day

    Despite rising political antagonism, China and Taiwan have for years been able to put aside their differences for a night of shared glitz and glamour at the annual Taipei-based Golden Horse Awards, known as Asia’s Oscars. But with cross-strait relations at a nadir, that’s about to change.  Chinese-language cinema is set for a showdown the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content