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Doris Day: Reluctant Star

Updated on August 29, 2010

From her early musicals where she often played the cute but tomboyish young woman in love through to her comedies with the likes of Rock Hudson and James Garner, the public image of Doris Day was very much a nice one. Who would have known that in fact her life was as turbulent as those of Elizabeth Taylor and Judy Garland, suffering abusive marriages, financial deception, heart break, depression and so much more. In fact it is quite shocking what a contrast Doris Day's real life was compared to the one portrayed through her movies, album releases and general publicity.

Celebrity Biographer David Bret delves into the life of Day in his book "Doris Day: Reluctant Star" and for those who haven't read other biographies as well as Day's own memoirs will find the frank revelations quite a surprise. Not just those revelations surrounding Day's life but also of many celebrities whose name get a mention, such as an openly gay actor who is reported to have had relations with both James Dean and Elvis Presley, although proof his never given on these matters and as such there is speculation to the authenticity of these revelations. Needless to say by the sheer number of revelations "Doris Day: Reluctant Star" is an eye opening read.

As you would expect "Doris Day: Reluctant Star" follows a pretty much chronicle look at the life of Doris Day from her childhood in Evanstown Cincinnati where sometime after the age of 10 her parents divorced. As a young girl she trained to be a dancer yet tragedy happened when she suffered a severe leg industry which curtailed her plans to be a dancer but thankfully for us it meant she sang and what a voice. The chronological look carries on right through to when she finally shunned showbiz to concentrate on her work with animals.

Along the way Bret covers all the aspects of Day's life so we get her singing career, her break into movies and of course her personal life. It is in fact her personal life which delivers revelation after revelation. Having a public appearance of being a sweet innocent it is amazing to learn that Day not only swore like a trooper, smoked more than most would imagine but also had a variety of relations with various men. But as well as these relations she also suffered at the hands of some abusive husbands who weren't afraid to knock her about. At times some of the stuff you read, including the way one husband also swindled her and her son Terry out of money is blatantly unbelievable, yet the evidence is their to prove these revelations.

Alongside the look at Day's own life other prominent actors and actresses are mentioned most obviously is Rock Hudson who sadly died of Aids. There are other stars such as Frank Sinatra who didn't enjoy working with Day and Billy de Wolfe who had a more positive view point when it came to Day. In many ways it's very well rounded with all these mentions of other well known names who through historical interviews give their own impressions on Day both as a star and as a person.

Understandably with Day shunning the limelight the final chapters of "Doris Day: Reluctant Star" are shall we say a little slim as Bret tries to give us a look at the life of Day as she pretty much became a recluse. But with little to say these segments are a slightly disappointment although in a strange way humorous as in the epilogue it is mentioned that many people were shocked to learn that Day was still alive having assumed she had passed away having not been in the lime light for some time.

My one big negative when it comes to "Doris Day: Reluctant Star" is not that at times it feels all a bit revelationary but in the way Bret covers her movie career. In particular he often dedicates several pages to various movies she made but rather than filling those pages with behind the scenes information such as acting rivalries and so on he concentrates on giving a full synopsis on each movie. This means that at times it becomes a little tedious reading page after page of movie storyline rather than information on Day herself, although for fans of Day may find the look back at each film in detail enjoyable.

All in all "Doris Day: Reluctant Star" is a more than adequate biography of both a great singer as well as actress even if at times it seems to revel in some of the more revelationary facts. Despite this it is a pleasant enough read as well as being informative even if the look at each of her individual movies ends up being a little over long.

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      howard green 

      8 years ago

      This book is filled with exaggerations and inaccuracies. Not worth the paper it's printed on!

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