Born Doris Mary Ann Kappelhoff on April 3, 1922, Day got her start in Hollywood as a big band singer who scored her first No. 1 hit with "Sentimental Journey" in 1945.
The Doris Day Animal Foundation said that the star died early on Monday at her Carmel Valley home in California following an onset of pneumonia. Day is regarded as one of the leading actresses of the '50s and '60s, and was one of the last surviving stars of the Golden Age of Hollywood, working in 39 films that spanned almost every movie genre.
Luckily for Day, she wasn't called upon to sing "Que Sera, Sera" after that. In 2004, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by then-President George W. Bush for her work on behalf of animals - but a fear of flying caused her to miss the ceremony.
Nevertheless, Day considered herself "blessed".
"Her 39 films - many still incredibly popular and shown frequently today - stand as a testament to her talent", her foundation said.
"This morning I was saddened to learn that Doris Day who starred in a film I had written The Thrill Of It All had passed away at 97". When she wasn't enjoying life in nature, the singer devoted her time to various charitable organizations. The running joke, attributed to both Groucho Marx and actor-composer Oscar Levant, was that they had known Day "before she was a virgin".
Here is a completely non-definitive list of five standout Doris Day songs.
While dismissed at the time as a "goody two-shoes", recent writings cite Day's leading ladies as being modern for the time because she often played career women whose jobs were not a means to an end - that end being a husband - but as something as fulfilling as marriage and motherhood. Part of it was her speaking voice, ambrosial and bell-like but also a little musky, like a mysterious elixir viewed through amber-colored glass. Her husband's reliance on attorney Jerome Rosenthal for business advice proved disastrous: The lawyer went through Day's millions with bad investments in oil wells, cattle and hotels.
Bashara says Day's estate will be donated to charity, per her will.
On the big screen, Day was nominated for an Academy Award for her starring role in 1959's Pillow Talk. Hitchcock did not originally want Day in the film, but to get Stewart onboard, he had to agree to also hire Day and give her a song in the film penned by the famed songwriting duo Jay Livingston and Ray Evans, the writers behind such classics as "Silver Bells" and "Mona Lisa".
Her manager, CFO of her foundation and friend, Bob Bashara, tells the outlet that she reportedly wanted "no funeral, no memorial and no [grave] marker". Doris Day I love you, my calamity Jane. A facility to rehabilitate abused and neglected horses opened in 2011 in Texas and bears her name. Her Foundation notes that almost 300 fans gathered in Carmel last month to celebrate her 97th birthday on April 3.