Doris Day was a multifaceted entertainer. She started to top the film scene in the 1950s and 1960s. Day was also a singer and sang with several big bands in the country. She showed her acting and singing skills in a few musical films, like “Calamity Jane” and “The Pyjama Game.”
Dori Day photographed in 1955 | Source: Getty Images
Besides singing and acting, Day advocated for animal welfare and founded many foundations. Her home also embodied her love for animals because it was designed to accommodate her dogs and cats in many ways.
Unlucky with Love
In her early life, Day studied ballet and tap dancing. She even won one of the local dancing competitions; however, her journey with dancing was short-lived.
In 1973, the actress was involved in a car accident that injured her leg and ended her dancing aspirations. But during her recovery, she took on vocal lessons. One of her inspirations was Ella Fitzgerald, and Day worked hard to find her voice as a singer. She debuted her voice in the musical film “Romance on the High Sea.”
Doris Day and one of her husbands, Marty Melcher, in California in 1951 | Source: Getty Images
Even though Day played in many romantic movies that ended with characters living happily ever after, her love life in reality was rocky.
Day was first married to musician Al Jordan, and they had one child, a son named Terry. But their marriage ended after two years.
After her divorce from Jordan, she tied the knot with George Weidler, but their relationship ended quickly too. The actress did not give up on love; in 1951, she married her manager, Martin Melcher.
Doris Day and Barry Comden at the Pierre Hotel in 1976 | Source: Getty Images
The couple stayed together until Melcher died in 1968. However, after Melcher’s passing, Day discovered that he put a lot of her money in non-profitable investments and worked with untrustworthy lawyers.
Luckily, Day recovered $22 million due to a lawsuit she had against the lawyers. After overcoming that stressful situation, she married Barry Comden in 1976, but their union ended in 1981.
While Day dealt with being unlucky with love, she lost one of her greatest loves. The singer’s only son, who grew up to become a successful musician and producer, died from skin cancer in 2004.
Another revelation about Day’s life came on her birthday in 2017. The actress learned that her actual birth year was 1922 and not the reported 1924.
When she found out, Day explained she had never cared for age and always thought of it as just a number, but it felt good to know her real age.
Inside Doris Day’s Valley Home
Day lived in Beverly Hills before she and her fourth husband bought a house in Carmel Valley in 1980, even though their marriage ended in 1981.
The actress reportedly wanted to leave Beverly Hills because of its rules and regulations regarding how many pets were allowed on private properties.
Therefore, Day decided to leave the city life for a quieter one in Carmel Valley. Her home was on a knoll and next to a golf club.
She and Comden decided to extend the property and built three extra bedrooms, which added up to 7,000 square feet. But since she divorced her husband shortly after purchasing the house, Day ended up living in her Carmel Valley home alone for 39 years.
Day painted the exterior butter yellow, which was also her favorite color. She also had the one-bedroom guest houses on the property painted the same color.
However, Day was not shy to use bold colors for her home. Her property also had a gatehouse with two apartments at the home’s entrance. She decided to paint it a bold red, which was reportedly her go-to color for decorative elements.
The exterior of her home did all the talking, so Day was said to have kept the interior decor pretty simple. She had white linen couches and a lot of antique furniture from the set of her sitcom.
Bob Bashara, one of Day’s employees, revealed the actress used to love painting some of her antiques cream, which he reckoned depreciated their value.
Her living room had a stone fireplace, and above it hung a painting of the country lane, which reminded her of where she grew up in Cincinnati.
Day was known as a low-key celebrity who did not indulge in the parties and events open to famous people. However, Mr. Bashara said he had a different experience spending time with the actress.
He confirmed that she did not like parties, but they enjoyed shopping and going out for meals at restaurants. Day reportedly loved a bistro at Quail Lodge which was at the golf club adjacent to her home.
The singer knew the owner and his two golden retrievers. Day also built a close relationship with the owner’s assistant, who eventually helped her respond to the boxes of fan mail she received.
Day was reportedly particular about her fan mail and wanted to respond personally, so she needed extra hands.
The actress also had a deep love for dogs from when she was a child. She especially connected with one of her dogs, Tiny, after her car accident. Tiny was by her side every day of her recovery.
As to how many dogs the actress had in her adult life, no one seemed to have the exact number. Bashara, who eventually became the chief financial officer of her foundation, said he remembered seeing about 11 or 12 dogs on the property.
Doug Steiny, a listening agent who grew up next door to the actress and was friends with her son Terry, said he remembered seeing up to 50 dogs at some point. However, dogs were not her only pets, the actress also had an enclosed cattery where she kept a few cats.
Steiny remembered how his parents would sit outside in the garden and complain about how loud the dogs barking was and Steiny and Terry would hang out while their mothers fought about the noise.
But Steiny recalled Day as a humble and grateful person. He realized she never used to watch her own movies, but she fell in love with Carmel when she was shooting her film “Julie” since parts of it were filmed in the area.
The main house on Day’s property had three bedrooms, a kitchen, a few dining areas, a large living room, a stone fireplace, a library, and an office. The dining room walls were painted yellow with a red accent wall.
The entryway has a large spiral staircase that resembles the one from Day’s sitcom, “The Doris Day Show.” The two-story home also had amazing art all over, and Bashara even confessed to buying one that hung over the fireplace in the living room. The bedroom was also decked with cozy bedding, making it the perfect escape from the world.
The guest houses have a suite for the caretaker, an office, and an additional three lofts. The property is secluded and encircled by oak trees and various plants.
Day loved gardening, so her house was a representation of it. The landscaping was always maintained, the lawns were manicured, and the actress planted beautiful flowers around the property.
From when Day bought the house in 1960, it had been well maintained even when the actress owned it. It sits on 8.62 acres of land, enough for all her animals.
The property was said to have been a dog’s dream. It was equipped with several decks, gardens, patios, and pathways where Day would walk her dogs. To top it off, the actress created a large dog care area with a full kitchen for her furry friends.
Altogether, the house had six bedrooms, eight and a half bathrooms, and two on-site parking areas. Carmel is a small town with only a population of 3889, as per reports; therefore, the home would be perfect for anyone looking to live in nature, have beautiful court gardens, and indulge in quality cuisines from the neighboring restaurants.
The home was sold in 2019 after Day passed at 97 years old. It was listed for a whopping $7.4 million, but Steiny revealed that Day’s estate would not be getting the profits; instead, the money from the sale would be donated to her foundation, Doris Day’s Animal Foundation (DDAF).
Doris Day Spent Her Final Years with No Family
When Day lost her son, Terry, who was 62 then, friends of the actress said the loss took a toll on her and changed her in the long run.
After losing Terry, Day reportedly immersed herself in her work. She turned to her fans and employees when it came to having people close to talk to.
As someone in the public eye, Day kept her circle of close friends tight. The actress reportedly had seven friends who were still alive when she died.
However, Day had fans that eventually became family to her. One of her bodyguards, Sydney Wood, revealed the actress was more reserved and spent most of her days indoors.
But towards her last days, insiders confessed that they worried about the people that surrounded Day because most of those who were in and out of her house did not have a personal relationship with her.
“She used to have the right people taking care of her. But her house is full of different people now. They’re with her because she’s Doris Day. I worry they are not looking after her well enough,” said an insider.
In 2014, Day made her last public appearance at an event for her foundation. But before that, the actress was last seen in 1989 at the Golden Globes. Nonetheless, Day said she was feeling young and exercising every day.
The actress died in May 2019, and her death caused a lot of drama between her friends and family.
For instance, Day’s grandson Ryan confessed that he discovered Day’s passing on social media. He explained in a Facebook post that he had been distanced from his grandmother because of the messy divorce between his parents.
However, Ryan revealed that he and Day had been in conversation and excitedly planned to meet and have dinner at her house. But Ryan said he was chased away by Bashara.
Ryan further explained that all communication with his grandmother was cut off after he found out Bashara had fired all of Day’s staff from the foundation and brought in his family.
On the contrary, Charlie Cullen Walters, Day’s publicist, said it was the actress’ choice not to see or have any connection with her grandson.
With all the commotion with Day’s family, neighbors and friends wondered who would inherit the actress’s assets and if Bashara would benefit from the donations made to Day’s foundation. Nonetheless, Day’s representative denied any allegations against Bashara.
Former employees of Day said the actress spent the last ten years of her life alone. She reportedly only used her kitchen and bedroom and never wanted to speak about anything besides her dogs and fans.