Billy Joel Teaches History

Doris Day

Suggestively, I’m listening to ‘She’s Got a Way’ while writing this.   Could there be a Billy Joel song to suit the mood of every historic event mentioned in ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire’ or is that too meta? 

Doris Day - born Doris Mary Ann Kappelhoff in Cincinnati, Ohio - is an iconic American actress, singer, and animal rights activist.  She has an extensive filmography but titles such as Pillow Talk (for which she was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar in 1959), Calamity Jane, and The Man Who Knew Too Much are as widely recognized as co-stars like James Stewart and Rock Hudson.  Her self-titled TV show ran from 1968 to 1973 (and earned her a Golden Globe nomination for Best TV Star - Female in 1969).  Weirdly she also earned something called a Sour Apple for Least Cooperative Actress at the Golden Apples Awards three separate times.  Still, it seemed nothing could dampen her appeal and at the height of her fame she was ranked the number one female box office star of the time. 

She was as known for her singing as for her acting and hit tunes such as ‘Que Sera Sera’, ‘Sentimental Journey’, ‘It’s Magic’, and ‘Secret Love’ earned her a place in the Grammy Hall of Fame.  At one point in a single year of her early singing career she had five Top Ten hits on the Billboard Hall of Fame.  I mean!

Doris Day and Rock Hudson.  Of Hudson, her three-time co-star, she would later reminisce: "I asked, 'Who's with me in Pillow Talk?' They said, 'Rock.' That struck me as funny. That's a name?"
The cheerful musicals she frequently starred in and her sunny California blonde looks contributed to her image as the quintessential all-American girl next door and seemed to foster a perpetual virginal stereotype about her.  In ‘Look At Me, I’m Sandra Dee’ from Grease, she is referenced in the lyrics “Watch it! Hey I'm Doris Day / I was not brought up that way / Won't come across, even Rock Hudson lost / His heart to Doris Day” which seems to tidily sum up how the public saw her.  Things were not so sunnily pure in reality, however, as she survived four marriages - one of which was abusive, three of which ended in divorce, and one of which ended with a devastating death - being thrown into debt by an unscrupulous business partner, and the loss of her only son Terry. 

Interested in animal rights activism her whole life, when she more or less retired from acting after The Doris Day Show she focused her attention full time on the welfare of animals.  She is responsible for founding the Doris Day Animal League, an animal advocacy group based in Washington DC, which merged with The Humane Society in 2006. 

There are some fun facts (or even “facts”) about Doris Day floating around on the interwebs, too. 
  • She turned down the role of Mrs. Robinson in The Graduate for ‘moral’ reasons.
  • She is mentioned in ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go Go’ by Wham: “ You take the grey skies out of my way / You make the sun shine brighter than Doris Day”.
  • She voted for George W. Bush in the 2000 presidential election.
  • She has a fear of flying.
  • Her nickname is ‘Clara Bixby’.
In 1951 Doris Day was in a movie called Storm Warning.  In 1989 Billy Joel released his album ‘Storm Front’ which contained the single ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire’.  In which he name drops Doris.