Actress and singer Doris Day dies at the age of 97

LOS ANGELES – Doris Day, whose wholesome screen presence stood for a time of innocence in `60s films, has died, her foundation says. She was 97.

The Doris Day Animal Foundation confirmed Day died early Monday at her Carmel Valley, California, home. The foundation says in an emailed statement she was surrounded by close friends and “had been in excellent physical health for her ge, until recently contracting a serious case of pneumonia.”

She was known for her honey-voiced singer and actress whose film dramas, musicals and innocent sex comedies made her a top star in the 1950s and `60s and among the most popular screen actresses in history.

Day’s lilting voice, wholesome blond beauty and ultra-bright smile brought her a string of hits, first on records, later in Hollywood.

She celebrated her 97th birthday on April 3.

This is part of an interview she gave to the Hollywood Reporter last month:

How do you continue to stay involved with the Doris Day Animal Foundation, and what should people know about the work done by this organization?

I started my animal foundation in 1978, when more than 17 million homeless pets were being euthanized every year, and spaying and neutering was practically unheard of. Animal-welfare awareness has improved tremendously over the last four decades, and euthanasia rates are down to approximately 2.5 million, but there is still much work to be done. DDAF’s grants support nonprofit organizations and programs across the country that directly help animals and the people who love them.

We are living in stressful times, with nonprofit organizations feeling the pressure of budget cuts. The Special Olympics was a recent example that was threatened with having its funding cut. How challenging is it to keep people motivated these days to contribute to a nonprofit organization?

I have found that, no matter what the times are like, people like to give to what they care about. In my case, my passion for my four-legged friends and other animals, they always provide love when we need it most. I thank everyone for helping to support that cause.

Why do you think your films continue to resonate with fans of all ages?

I get so many love letters from fans as young as 8 years old, telling me they were introduced by my films and music by their great-grandmothers, and my movies make them happy. Different films resonate with viewers for different reasons, but the common thread seems to be that my films are uplifting.

Pillow Talk is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. What can you share about filming this iconic movie?

I had such fun working with my pal, Rock. We laughed our way through three films we made together and remained great friends. I miss him.

What is your favorite film of all time, and why is that the choice?

I’ve always been a little partial to Calamity Jane. I was such a tomboy growing up, and she was such a fun character to play. Of course, the music was wonderful, too — “Secret Love,” especially, is such a beautiful song.

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