By Stephanie Nolasco
Published March 28, 2019
Doris Day already has big plans for the big 9-7 on April 3.
“Doris will be spending a quiet birthday at home again this year surrounded by a few close friends,” her business manager Bob Bashara recently told People magazine. “She always gets lots of phone calls wishing her happy birthday. And, in the evening, she’ll enjoy a special birthday dinner followed by cake and ice cream.”
According to the publication, the screen and song legend’s sweet treat of choice for celebrating is Edy’s slow-churned chocolate fudge ice cream.
But the Hollywood star is also kicking off the festivities early. Her adopted hometown of Carmel-By-The-Sea, Calif., where she moved in the ‘70s, is hosting the Doris Day Animal Foundation Annual Benefit on Thursday, March 28 at the Cypress Inn. It will be commemorating the 60th anniversary of her 1959 hit film “Pillow Talk” co-starring her close friend Rock Hudson.
In addition, People shared Turner Classic Movies host Ben Mankiewicz will introduce a screening of the romantic comedy at Carmel High School Center for Performing Arts on Friday. Following the screening, there will be a Q&A with some of Day’s friends, including comedian and impressionist Rich Little, “Hollywood Squares” host Peter Marshall, as well as a live auction of a signed “Pillow Talk” script and other memorabilia.
Then on Saturday, pianist Michel Feinstein will play some favorites, leading to a second auction benefiting the Doris Day Animal Foundation, featuring artwork painted and signed by Tony Bennett.
“I am so thrilled to have Michael Feinstein performing this year at the fundraiser for my animal foundation,” Day told People in a statement. “So many of my friends and co-stars will be joining him for the weekend activities and it’s all to help the precious four-leggers.”
Day left Hollywood behind in 1973. However, the beloved screen star has kept busy pursuing her lifelong passion for animal rescue.
Day, who first got her start as a big band singer, made her film debut in 1948 with “Romance On the High Seas,” which led to numerous popular rom-coms highlighting her signature sunny serenades.
She also became a pop star with the help of musical hits, such as 1953’s “Secret Love” and 1956’s “Whatever Will Be Will Be (Que Sera).”
However, when her third husband, film producer Martin Melcher, died in 1968, Day eventually withdrew from the public eye and completely devoted herself to animal rights work. In 2017, Bashara told Fox News Day’s determination to rescue animals started long before she found fame.
Day, a child dancer in her native Cincinnati, had her career interrupted in 1937 at age 14 when a train struck a car she was riding in with friends. Her right leg was completely shattered and she was in a cast for nearly two years.
According to Bashara, while Day took singing lessons to occupy her time, she found comfort in her dog Tiny, who never left her side.
“Unfortunately, the dog ran out to the street and was killed,” explained Bashara. “Doris believed it was important for people to keep their pets on a leash. She always had an interest in animals since then. Even at the height of her career, she was known for picking up dogs off the set.”
In 1978 Day formed the Doris Day Pet Foundation, which kept her busy finding loving homes for animals in need. She then formed the non-profit organization Doris Day Animal League to tackle animal overpopulation. Bashara said it’s still in operation today and has merged with the Humane Society of the United States.
“She lives in California on the same property,” he said. “She can’t really go out and rescue animals. But people still leave them on the doorsteps. Or if a feral cat wanders on the property, she’s bound to take it in and care for it. Someone even left an animal outside her gate in a box because they knew she would care for it. She still looks for organizations that her foundation can give money to and rescue animals.”
Still, Day hasn’t forgotten her fans. Bashara added the star gets hundreds of letters a month and she answers them all.
“A few years ago, we had a big birthday party for her and about 200 fans came to dinner,” said Bashara. “Even though she doesn’t really make public appearances very often, she did that night. She made sure to greet everyone who attended.
"She still has a close circle of friends who visit her. She loves going out to the ocean… All those years in the public eye, she’s very happy with her beautiful property, being with good friends, and her animals.”
Over the years, Day has been asked to come out of retirement and scripts have even come her way. And while she’s not interested in returning to the spotlight, Day hasn’t completely given up on her love for music.
“She loves singing,” insisted Bashara. “She sings around the house a lot and her voice is terrific. We keep telling her she could record again if she wanted to. But she’ll say, ‘Oh, I’m rusty.”
And Day continues to have fond memories of one particular co-star.
“She and Rock Hudson were very, very good friends,” said Bashara. “He used to come to visit her at her Malibu house. They loved working together. They were great friends until the day he died.”
The screen idol died in 1985 at age 59 from AIDS.
But despite her lasting success, Day is perfectly content focusing on rescuing animals and has zero plans to slow down.
“She’s said this before… she never really wanted to be a movie star,” said Bashara. “She wanted to get married, have a family… She loves living the simple life. I don’t think she was ever really interested in the celebrity side of it. She wanted to work with animals and she wanted to do that in a more private setting.”