Wednesday, March 5, 2014

IWSG: Doris Day

Doris Day, 1957 (public domain photo)
Doris Day may seem like an odd choice for an encouraging writer's post, but bear with me.

Anyone who's ever seen a Doris Day movie will never forget her.  From her thousand-watt smile to her ultra-feminine voice, she embodied sweetness and sunshine.  But contrary to her cheerful and angelic demeanor, her personal life was full of hardship and tragedy.


Doris was a child dance prodigy and performed locally in Cincinnati in her early teens.  She was well on her way to becoming an excellent professional dancer until a car she was in was struck by a train.  Her leg was crushed, as were her dreams of being a dancer.

Did she give up? No.  She began to sing.


In her early twenties, she was working as a singer and got her big break when she was hired by Les Brown, a very famous bandleader of the time. Shortly after, she fell in love with and married his trombone player, Al Jorden.  It wasn't a happy marriage.  In her book,  Doris Day: Her Own Story,  she says he abused her and was so angry when she got pregnant that he repeatedly beat her in the stomach to cause a miscarriage. 

Did she give up?  No.  She had the baby, divorced Jorden, and two years later recorded her first big hit, "Sentimental Journey."


Doris Day and Jimmy Stewart in "The Man Who Knew Too Much"
While singing at a Hollywood party, Doris was "discovered," offered a screen test, and immediately cast in "Romance on the High Seas" (1948).  In 1951, she married her agent, Marty Melcher and had a stellar film career, earning an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe award and receiving millions in film and recording deals.  But when Melcher died in 1968, Doris discovered he'd mishandled her money, leaving her broke, deeply in debt, and with a contract commitment that forced her to do a TV series -- and she didn't even like TV.

Did she give up?  No.  The need to clear her debts convinced Doris to go ahead with "The Doris Day Show," which was a huge success and ran from 1968-1973 and won her another Golden Globe award.

Doris Day and Rock Hudson in "Pillow Talk"

If you're still with me, here's the payoff.  

Doris Day is still alive and ninety years old.  Despite her traumatic past, she survived, she rose to the challenge of learning new things, and adapted herself to the changes forced upon her.  

As writers, we all struggle with personal setbacks, frustration over our own limitations, and career disappointments.  Things rarely go as planned.  Don't be afraid of change or disappointments.  Roll with the punches, do the best you can with what you have, and you'll find success even if it's not necessarily the way you'd planned.

This is a post for the Insecure Writer's Support Group, the brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh.  It exists so the community of blogging writers can share and support each other, blog-hopping to cheerlead and commiserate.  To find out more, visit: Insecure Writer's Support Group.  Plus, check out the IWSG Website for lots of helpful info and links.

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