True story here: a long time ago, a young woman from Cincinnati daydreams of growing up and meeting a nice man, getting married, learning to cook, having two children, etc. etc.
Eventually, it all comes true for her. Except it all happens in a major Hollywood motion picture called “The Thrill of It All.” Those ideas about all that happening in real life? – just a Day dream. A Doris Day dream.
Sorry readers, but in this column, I’m 8 years old again, moony-eyed over a childhood crush on Doris Day, who, sadly, recently passed on at the ripe age of 97.
I had quite a few such crushes as a kid. I’ll bet you did too. Or maybe you still have a childhood crush – maybe you’ve never gotten over it. Or you’re still a child.
Anyway, I fondly remember my top squeezes: From “Bewitched,” there was Elizabeth Montgomery; from “Julia,” Diahann Carroll; from dozens of Disney programs, Hayley Mills; and from those Timex commercials, John Cameron Swayze.
(Well, to be precise, I had a crush on John Cameron Swayze’s voice. I often mimicked his crackling tones while chattering my own play-by-play for my backyard sporting events.)
But I’d like to take a few moments to pay special attention today to Day.
Some younger readers may be thinking, “Oh, no! This geezer’s trucking down Memory Lane to blather about Doris Day!”
Well, YES!, you’re right! We’re NOT taking the Memory Lane bypass today, if only for the sake of my No. 5 son (age 18) and his friends. See, I was curious if Doris had a place anywhere in a new generation’s consciousness. When I asked No. 5, he immediately said, “Not in mine.”
But he agreed to poll his pals to see what they knew about her. The answer: Zippo. No. 5 texted me that “about one and a half people had ever heard of her.” Isn’t that astounding? That he knows a half-a-person, I mean?
As for Doris, I suppose she slipped off the cultural radar a bit over the years, but at one time she was a star singer on the big band scene, and a radio star, recording star, movie star, and TV star. You know, kind of like. . .like. . .well, come to think of it, did any other woman ever do all that?
And look so lovely doing it? Yes, it’s true, even as a kid, I was mainly attracted to Doris’, um, attractiveness, freckles and all. Sure, she had a great voice too, but for sandlot baseball play-by-play, my Doris impersonation just wasn’t as good as my John Cameron Swayze.
Now, as was the case with many a Hollywood superstar, then and now, Doris also changed her name for show business purposes. This is understandable, since she began life as “Doris Cameron Swayze von Kapelhoff.”
She started using “Doris Day” in the 1940s, while singing with a big band led by Barney Rapp (sadly forgotten by today’s music world, even though he invented Rapp music.)
Anyway, Barney was concerned that the name “von Kapelhoff” was way too long for theater marquees, not to mention the back of the band’s softball league jerseys.
She eventually agreed to rename herself after a popular song of the day, “Day After Day.” The story goes that she never liked the name “Doris Day” - she thought it sounded like a stripper.
This probably amuses readers who remember Doris, because her public image was well-described by composer Oscar Levant as that of “a professional virgin.” (Groucho Marx once said “I knew Doris before she was a virgin.”)
She might have turned that image upside forever if she’d taken a movie role she supposedly was offered, but turned down – that of the lusty Mrs. Robinson in the 1967 movie hit “The Graduate.” Really.
It’s impossible to say how that would’ve changed her life, but I’ll tell ya, it would’ve changed mine. I was only in fifth grade, but I knew all about the older woman/younger man story line in “The Graduate” from reading the satire of it in Mad Magazine.
Boy, if I’d thought for a minute that Doris Day was hot for younger men. . .wowie! She would’ve gotten dozens of letters from me declaring my passionate love. And each would’ve ended with a heartfelt P.S. - “If you must break my heart. . .if you must deny my longing. . .then could you maybe give me Diahann Carroll’s address?!”