A century is a long time for a pop culture icon to remain in the public mind. Two new versions attempt to make that happen for a local legend.
Doris Day is often cited as the most important Cincinnadian to become a performing artist. Born on April 3, 1922 – 100 years ago – as Doris Mary Anne Kappelhoff, she had enormous continued success as a singer with the jazzy big bands of the 1940s and then as a solo pop singer.
She sang hugely popular versions of now iconic songs like “Sentimental Journey”, “Secret Love”, “Que Sera, Sera” and more. And starting with the 1948 musical romance on the high seas and until his last film in 1968, With Six you get Eggrollshe was as recognizable as a Hollywood star (she also had a TV series for five years after her last film).
But conventional wisdom holds that Kappelhoff’s cultural significance has diminished over time. That’s partly because she lived well past her Hollywood heyday, dying in Carmel Valley, Calif., in 2019 at age 97.
But his musical style had also faded long before. Once baby boomers – who were typically born between the late 1940s and early 1960s – got old enough to start buying records, they opted for their own genre of music over numbers. singer’s jazzy or cinematic. And Kappelhoff’s romantic comedies of the ’60s didn’t seem to keep up with the changes brought about by the feminist movement and the edgy films of New Hollywood.
With that in mind, you might think that the centenary of Kappelhoff’s birth would pass quietly this year; you would be wrong. Not only are centennial sighting organizers showcasing new or forgotten archival materials — including music and photographs that shed light on his childhood in Cincinnati and the start of his music career — but the new activity comes with a fierce reassessment and defense of it. value in the culture at large.
The two milestones of the centenary are the forthcoming publication of the book Doris Day: Images of a Hollywood icon and the release of a new album, Early Day: Rare Radio Songs, 1939-1950.
The album is locally notable for having made widely available two 1939 radio recordings of Kappelhoff singing with a Cincinnati band led by Barney Rapp, who is credited with its discovery. The songs “Little Sir Echo” and “I’m Happy About the Whole Thing” were broadcast nationwide from a Rapp-owned nightclub, Sign of the Drum, located along Reading Road in Paddock Hills/Bond Hill.
In 1939, Rapp had auditioned Kappelhoff still a teenager as a singer because the current one, his wife Ruby Wright, was pregnant. Soon after, Rapp suggested Kappelhoff shorten his last name to “Day”. The rest is history, though it took him a few more years — and his appearance with acclaimed non-Cincinnatian band Les Brown — to achieve his true national breakthrough.
“She never failed to mention that she started with him,” says Herb Reisenfeld, a Cincinnati enthusiast of the late Rapp’s music who also married Rapp’s daughter. “Whenever (Day) was on TV on different shows, she always mentioned Barney Rapp.”
Early Day: Rare Radio Songs, 1939-1950 also has a recording of Day singing in a 1943 WLW radio show called The lion’s roarplus there’s a snippet of “Ain’t Misbehavin'” from a WLW radio audition.
The book Doris Day: Images of a Hollywood Icon, Set to be released later in June, treats Day like royalty – and she’s got some awesome fans on board to write reviews of her artistry and character. The foreword is by Sir Paul McCartney, Great American Songbook historian and singer Michael Feinstein assesses her musical career, and Turner Classic Movies film historian Eddie Muller writes enthusiastically about her value as an actress. .
The Hollywood icon’s photo images cover her life from childhood in the Evanston neighborhood of Cincinnati to her 97th birthday at her home in California, with many bright and colorful photographs from her film career and life in the eyes of the audience. The latter are infinitely complementary – she is radiant as the sun with her fair hair, her wide smile and her lively and modernist fashions.
Cincinnatians will be especially fascinated by the rediscovered footage of her childhood as Doris Kappelhoff. The “Early Day” section of the book shows her with her brother Paul (d. 1957) as grandchildren, as a baby held by her grandmother outside Evanston’s house, as a child on a tricycle or sitting on a horse, a budding dancer in a dance pose holding hands with a girlfriend, and more.
“When she moved to Carmel and married her fourth and last husband, they started remodeling the property and she never unpacked the collections of photos and transparencies and stuff,” says Jim Pierson, who has co-edited and compiled Doris Day: Images of a Hollywood icon and also produced the compilation album. “There was this loft at the end of her bedroom wing where she also had a dressing room, and there was this door that looked like a panel in the wall. So she never even thought of going there and basically used it as storage, it was filled with dozens of boxes.
“It was really lucky to find this buried treasure after he passed away,” Pierson continues. “It was a kind of hidden and lost archive encompassing several packages of historical documents, going back to Ohio and its beginnings.”
His long-standing public activism for animal welfare is also becoming more and more impressive today. She had left her possessions for the benefit of animals, in particular thanks to the work of the non-profit association Doris Day Animal Foundation.
“She loved Cincinnati,” says Bob Bashara, the book’s editor, who was also Day’s business manager and, for the last years of his life, personal manager. He is now CEO of his animal foundation, Doris Day Animal Foundation. “She never intended to leave Cincinnati. It was really one of those things where she was just this really talented little girl, and life just took her in a different direction than she had. planned for itself.
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