Christopher Bray

A Sentimental Journey

Doris Day: The Untold Story of the Girl Next Door

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Virgin Books USA 496pp £29.95 order from our bookshop

Doris Day: Reluctant Star

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JR Books 264pp £17.99 order from our bookshop

Oh dear. Bad enough for the respective authors that their biographies of Doris Day should come out within days of each other. Worse that the books’ covers should look close to identical – all pinks and whites and jauntily cursive typefaces laid over the exact same soft-focus shot of the girl Oscar Levant knew ‘before she was a virgin’. There she is, in recline, an angel with a blonde beehive for a halo, the tilt of her head saying come hither, the slow burn in her eyes warning you off. Her best-loved films were built around such contradictory signals, of course. Teacher’s Pet, That Touch of Mink, The Thrill of It All, Pillow Talk – these are Shakespeare-style comedies of disguise and misrecognition, in which Day does her darndest to disabuse the likes of Gable, Grant, Garner and Hudson of the idea that the way she looks is the way she is. 

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