The biggest female box office attraction in Hollywood history, Doris Day remains unequalled as the only entertainer who has ever triumphed in movies, radio, recordings, and a multi-year weekly television series. America's favorite girl next door may have projected a wholesome image that led Oscar Levant to quip "I knew Doris Day before she was a virgin," but in Considering Doris Day Tom Santopietro reveals Day's underappreciated and effortless acting and singing range that ran the gamut from musicals to comedy to drama and made Day nothing short of a worldwide icon.
Covering the early Warner Brothers years through Day's triumphs working with artists as varied as Alfred Hitchcock and Bob Fosse, Santopietro's smart and funny book deconstructs the myth of Day as America's perennial virgin, and reveals why her work continues to resonate today, both onscreen as pioneering independent career woman role model, and off, as a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States' highest civilian honor. Praised by James Cagney as "my idea of a great actor" and by James Garner as "the Fred Astaire of comedy," Doris Day became not just America's favorite girl, but the number one film star in the world. Yet after two weekly television series, including a triumphant five year run on CBS, she turned her back on show business forever.
Examining why Day's worldwide success in movies overshadowed the brilliant series of concept recordings she made for Columbia Records in the '50s and '60s, Tom Santopietro uncovers the unexpected facets of Day's surprisingly sexy acting and singing style that led no less an observer than John Updike to state "She just glowed for me." Placing Day's work within the social context of America in the second half of the twentieth century, Considering Doris Day is the first book that grants Doris Day her rightful place as a singular American artist.
Following his witty overview of Streisand's career in The Importance of Being Barbra (2005), Santopietro turns to Doris Day and delivers a sharp-eyed, carefully researched career evaluation that also convincingly rebukes many modern misconceptions about her pristine screen persona and status as a singer. With the exception of That Touch of Mink ("a film nearly devoid of wit or humor"), most of Day's onscreen characters were far from eternal virgins; they were proto-feminist icons ranging from successful career women with healthy libidos to smart can-do housewives. Santopietro's sassy assessment of Day's 39 films illuminate her best (Love Me or Leave Me, Pajama Game, Thrill of It All), analyzes her worst (Tunnel of Love, Where Were You When the Lights Went Out?) and offers some surprises (he defends the KKK melodrama Storm Warning, but is more reserved about Pillow Talk). Delving into her prodigious recording career (from 1948 to 1967, she released more than 600 songs), Santopietro appraises her songs almost track-by-track with such full-blooded enthusiasm that most readers will be racing to iTunes to download her catalogue. While not intended as a full biography, there is enough biographical detail as it concerns her career choices to create a vibrant portrait of the artist and the woman. B&w photos.