NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Thursday, May 16th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.
MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: And I’m Megan Basham. No doubt you heard Doris Day died on Monday at age 97. Commentator Cal Thomas is here now with thoughts on his unlikely friendship with one of Hollywood’s biggest stars.
CAL THOMAS, COMMENTATOR: When Doris Day died this week, the news brought sadness that wasn’t only nostalgia for her often-clean movies. It was also personal—because Day and I became friends late in her life.
The story involves radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh and his mother. Limbaugh once mentioned how few Republicans and conservatives there are in Hollywood. He said Doris Day was one of them and that she and his mother had become friends.
I had always loved Day’s music and many of her films. I particularly liked the few dramatic roles she played, as in “The Man Who Knew Too Much” co-starring Jimmy Stewart. And my personal favorite was, “Love Me or Leave Me,” the story of singer Ruth Ettig.
So I asked Rush if I could speak to his mother, and he gave me her contact information. She then called Day—who said she was actually a fan of mine and would love to meet!
So, my wife and I flew to California and we met at a local restaurant in Carmel. Later, we met at her home, where she kept many of her dogs in bedrooms others might have used for children. She regarded animals as her children.
There we were regaled with the kind of stories I love to hear about show business. The most fascinating story was when Doris said she never listened to playbacks of her songs after she recorded them. But then her son, Terry Melcher, informed her that a German company had re-mastered many of her songs and put them in a beautiful box set. He brought the box to her, along with a CD player and left them.
One night after putting her dogs to bed, she went to the refrigerator, poured a glass of white wine, put on one of the CDs and “danced around the room.”
I responded, “I wish I had been there to dance with you.”
As obituary writers and she herself noted, many of the virginal roles she played were not the real her. She married four times, including to one husband who ruined her financially. Her son managed to restore her fortunes, but she was always more a symbol of virtue, rather that its best example. The same could be said of many of us.
In Day’s songs you’ll find every word understandable. They promote love, kindness, and joy. Even the sadder ones don’t seem to sound as sad when she sings them.
Doris Day took me on a “sentimental journey” from which I don’t think I shall ever return.
On that boxed set of her songs from 1951-1955, called “Secret Love,” she inscribed: “Love you Cal. I’m so glad we met.”
Me, too, Doris. Me, too.
For WORLD Radio, I’m Cal Thomas.