Although Doris Day was known for her innocence on screen and became an American sweetheart, her personal life was more complicated. Throughout her lifetime, Doris Day was married four times.
What was the cause of death? Day’s foundation told the Associated Press that Doris Day “had been in excellent physical health for her age, until recently contracting a serious case of pneumonia.”
Her four husbands were Al Jorden (married in 1941 and divorced two years later); George Weidler (married in 1946 and divorced three years later); Martin Melcher (married in 1951 and he died in 1968); and Barry Comden (married in 1976 and divorced in 1981). One of those marriages – the first, to Al Jorden – produced Day’s son, Terry Melcher.
Here’s what you need to know about Doris Day’s family:
Martin Melcher Was Accused of Squandering Doris Day’s Earnings
According to Fox 19, although it was the longest lived, Day’s marriage to Martin Melcher, who was a film producer, was a troubled one, at least at the end. Their marriage ended with his death in 1968.
“Day was shocked to learn that he and his business partner, Jerome Bernard Rosenthal, had squandered her earnings for 17 years,” Fox 19 reported.
She sued Rosenthal, won damages, and “soon learned her late husband had committed her to appear in a TV series,” the news site reports. That show was “The Doris Day Show.”
Melcher was Day’s agent and “pulled her out of her Warner Brothers contract and revamped her as a freelance actress for hire,” UK Telegraph reports.
Al Jorden Was a Trombonist Once Called a ‘Creep’ by Doris Day But Gave Her a Son
Doris Day met Al Jorden, a trombonist, when she was only 16 and was known as Doris Kappelhoff, according to UK Standard. He asked her to the movies.
Jorden was older – 23 – and Day told her mother, Standard recalled, “He’s a creep and I wouldn’t go out with him if they were giving away gold nuggets at the movie!”
They had things in common, though. They were in the same band in Evanstown, Cincinnati, where Day grew up. “He cheated on Doris, knocked her around and humiliated her in public,” Standard reports, but he also fathered her child, Terry Melcher. She was only 18. They eventually divorced.
Tragically, her only child, Terry Melcher, died in 2004 of melanoma.
Doris Day’s Marriage to Husband George Weidler Fell Apart as Her Career Took Off
According to IMDB, Day’s marriage to George Weidler was similarly short-lived. “In 1946, Doris married George Weidler, but this union lasted less than a year,” IMDB reported. Daily Mail reports that Weidler was a saxophonist.
Her career was starting to take off: “Day’s agent talked her into taking a screen test at Warner Bros.,” the site reports.
The marriage failed, reports UK Telegraph, because Weidler “thought that his wife was now too big a star for the marriage to work.”
Barry Comden Felt That Doris Day’s Dogs Came First
Doris Day was a well-known lover of animals. Some of her husbands felt they played second fiddle to them.
Barry Comden’s obituary in SFGate describes him as a “maitre d’ at a Beverly Hills restaurant.” He “complained that he took second place to her many dogs,” the newspaper reported.
He was younger than Doris Day when they met at the restaurant – where she was a customer – according to SFGate. Day once said the couple, who divorced, was “just incompatible,” reported SFGate, which quoted her as saying, “She had 14 dogs, and the final straw was when I was kicked out of bed to make way for Tiger, a poodle.”