Today the actress and singer Doris Day has died at 97 years of age. A Hollywood star known for being an animal advocate, but less known for another detail of her life.
Born into a Catholic family, Doris was never a very religious person. Her first marriage was in March 1941 with a trombonist, Al Jorden, from whom she soon discovered his most violent side. As Aimee Lamoureux recalled last year, Doris met Al when she was 16 and he was 23. She was not attracted to him -he was known for his bad mood and rough character-, but eventually the relationship ended up coming up and they married when she was 18 years old. She had already started her musical career and she hoped that her marriage would bring her a stable and homelike life. It was not so. He began to mistreat and insult her two days after the wedding. He even mistreated her in public. The man was very jealous and suffered from schizophrenia.
Doris’s life became a nightmare, to the point that she decided to divorce him. However, two months after getting married she realized that she was pregnant. Lamoureux comments on what happened next: “Jorden tried to convince her to get an abortion, but she refused. Jorden became infuriated and beat her in an attempt to induce a miscarriage. He continued to beat her throughout her pregnancy, but Day was determined to have the child.” Once he tried to kill her and the baby. It happened while he was with her in the car. He had a gun and pointed the gun at Doris’s stomach, but she managed to convince him not to do it. When they got home, he kept hitting her.
Finally, she gave birth on February 8, 1942 to a child: Terry Paul Jorden. He was the only son she had. Al Jorden continued to mistreat her after giving birth, even when trying to comfort the baby when she found him crying at night. In 1943 she filed for divorce. He committed suicide in 1967, shooting himself in the head. Despite the horrible experience he had at his side, Doris Day never regretted having married Al Jordan: “If I hadn’t married this bird I would have my terrific son Terry. So out of this awful experience came something wonderful.” Terry died in 2004 at age 62.
Like many other people, I have Doris Day associated with the film she shot with Alfred Hitchcock in 1956: “The man who knew too much”, and specifically with the song “Qué será, será”, which she sang in that film:
It’s a song that I’ve always liked a lot, and more as she sang it. The lyrics began like this:
When I was just a little girl
I asked my mother, what will I be?
Will I be pretty?
Will I be rich?
Here’s what she said to me:
Que será, será?
Whatever will be, will be
The future’s not ours to see…
I do not know what Doris Day would expect from the future when she was a teenager, but when the time came, she defended the life of her unborn child even at the risk of her own. A fact that also deserves to be remembered. And I add a final note, another detail not common in Hollywood: she supported the Republican Party throughout her life, aligning herself with her most conservative wing. She admired Ronald Reagan, with whom he coincided in two movies, and supported George H. W. Bush’s campaign for the presidency. His son, also President George W. Bush, awarded Doris Day the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2004.
Rest in peace.
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