Iconic actress and singer Doris Day has died at the age of 97. In her lifetime, although she was married four times, she had one child, Terry Melcher.
Melcher died in 2004 at the age of 62, after losing a long battle with melanoma. Day had a close relationship with her only son, and was open about how hard the loss of Terry was on her. She told Closer that the biggest heartbreak in her life was “losing my dear son, Terry. He was such a huge part of my life, and I miss him all the time.”
Here’s what you need to know about Doris Day’s late son, Terry Melcher:
1. Day Was 18 When She Gave Birth to Her Only Child
Melcher was born on February 8, 1942. Day had him with her first husband, Al Jorden, whom she was married to from March 1941 to February 1943. According to Express, after Day married Martin Melcher in 1951, Martin adopted her son Terry and he changed his last name from Jorden to Melcher.
2. Terry Was a Musician & Record Producer
Terry followed in his mother’s musical footsteps and began a career as a musician and music producer. According to his obituary in The Guardian, he is credited with helping “shape Los Angeles pop into the California sound.” As a producer, he shaped the folk-rock band the Byrds (originally The Jet Set).
With his mother’s encouragement, he recorded his first demo recording in 1961, which earned him a spot in Columbia Records producer-trainee program. Although his two solo-albums were unsuccessful, in spite of Doris singing back-up vocals for one of them, the single he produced with Bruce Johnston (of the Beach Boys), “Summer Means Fun,” was met with some success. According to the Rolling Stone, he also “played on the Beach Boys classic ‘Pet Sounds,’ and later co-wrote the 1988 hit ‘Kokomo’ with the group,” which received a Golden Globe nomination after it was used in the film Cocktail.
3. Terry Had Ties to Charles Manson Shortly Before His Murder Spree
Terry’s friendship with the Beach Boys led to his meeting Charles Manson at the time that Manson was building his “family.” Manson was an aspiring singer-songwriter, and though Melcher considered signing him, The Guardian reports that he ultimately backed off on that deal, a shift that Manson was unhappy with.
According to People Magazine, Mike Love revealed in his book Good Vibrations that “Manson was also in the car one day when Dennis dropped Terry off at his rented home at 10050 Cielo Drive, at the top of a steep hill in the Benedict Canyon area.” That mansion is where actress Sharon Tate and four others were brutally murdered by the Manson Family in 1969. Melcher moved out of the mansion before the murders took place, and Love wrote that Doris Day played a role in getting her son out of that house: “The move was no accident. Terry, Doris’ only child, was extremely close to his mom. He had told her about Manson – and about some of his scary antics, his brandishing of knives, his zombie followers – and that Manson had been to the house on Cielo and she insisted he move out.”
4. Day Dedicated a Song to Terry in Her Album ‘My Heart’
Ten years ago, at the age of 87, Doris Day released an album entitled My Heart, which featured old classics as well as previously unreleased songs. According to Reuters, the sales from the album went to her animal foundation.
One of the songs, “My Buddy,” which she originally recorded in 1952, she dedicated to her late son. Reuters reported that the American icon said “He really was my buddy. I wanted that song to be there because it was for him and, well, all I can say is that I miss him very much.”
The lyrics to the sad, but loving, song read “Life is a book that we study / Some of its leaves bring a sigh / There it was written by a buddy / That we must part, you and I / Nights are long since you went away / I think about you all through the day / My buddy, my buddy / Nobody quite so true / Miss your voice, the touch of your hand / Just long to know that you understand / My buddy, my buddy / Your buddy misses you.”
5. He & His Wife Terese Had One Son, Ryan
Terry is survived by his wife Terese and their son, Ryan. Ryan now works as a realtor in Carmel, California. In Ryan’s bio on the Sotheby’s website, it says “his grandmother, Doris Day, moved to Carmel in the 1970s, soon after which Ryan and his parents followed suit. His family joined another local family in partnership in the Cypress Inn, a pet-friendly, Carmel-by-the-Sea favorite. Ryan often spent his afternoons at the Inn, interacting with guests and their dogs, an activity which he now attributes to his customer-oriented style.”
Before he married Terese in 1998, he was married to Melissa E. Brown from 1974-1977 and Jacqueline Carlin, whom he divorced in 1997.
A few years ago, Terese spoke to Closer Magazine about her late husband and the close relationship he shared with his famous mother, saying “Terry did so much for Doris. He was a wonderful son, and she really relied on him. He spoke with her every day, at least once a day if not more.”