Doris Day's signature song, "Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)," seemed to suggest a fully carefree life for the singer/actress. After all, she was among the top box office stars from 1948 until 1964 — the longest run of any female star in motion picture history — and a TV star for almost a decade.
But her life was never as cheery as her All-American Girl performances. Day, now 87, notoriously lost most of her fortune at the hands of her third (of four) husbands, Martin Melcher. And in 2004, she was admittedly devastated by the death of her only son (and adoptive son of Melcher), Terry Melcher, of cancer at age 62.
She recently released a new album honoring her son, who produced or wrote all of the tracks. A key figure in the California music scene of the '60s, Melcher worked closely with The Byrds and The Beach Boys, and their influence is evident on My Heart. Its tracks were recorded piecemeal over a 40-year span but are just being released together for the first time.
Miss Day, as she still likes to be called, lives in rural Carmel Valley, Calif., her home since she left Hollywood in the 1980s. That's where we caught up with her to ask the obvious question about My Heart's release: why now?
"Remembering my son Terry's work motivated me," Day says. "He had so much to do with it and it's horrible that he isn't here with me now to be able to hear it."
Melcher's music career first took off when he produced his mother's 1964 album Love Him! and co-wrote her hit, "Move Over Darling." That began a long collaboration, culminating in the latest release. "Both of us had an influence on each other," recalls Day. "Well, we worked together just around the house. He would play the piano and we would sing together."
She also visited the recording studio at her son's home when he was producing and singing back-up for The Beach Boys. "I would go and listen and it was marvelous ... especially when Terry sang. The Beach Boys wanted him to travel and become one of them but Terry didn't want to leave his little boy (Day's grandson, Ryan).