Miss Day received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush in recognition of her distinguished service to the country. "Doris Day became an American icon as an actress and singer," said President Bush. "She captured the hearts of Americans while enriching our culture."
During the award ceremony on June 23, 2004, President Bush recognized Miss Day's work on behalf of the animals by saying, "It was a good day for our fellow creatures when she gave her good heart to the cause of animal welfare."
Doris Day, Founder and President
Doris Day is one of the world's most-loved and most-honored women. Although it has been more than 35 years since she last starred in a motion picture, her name continues to top the "most-admired" lists and polls, and her movies are among the most-popular on television and home video.
Doris Day made 39 films, beginning in 1948, with Romance on the High Seas. She also had two television series, The Doris Day Show for CBS (1969-1973), and Doris Day's Best Friends, which ran on CBN Cable Network/Family Channel in 1985 and 1986.
Scores of scripts and movie, television and singing offers continue to be submitted to Doris Day, and she jokes that she might decide to make a movie, "Just to take a rest." In 1998, the Arts & Entertainment television network produced a two-hour special for its Biography series, which brought the network some of its highest ratings ever. A 1991 PBS special, Doris Day: A Sentimental Journey, also produced large audiences.
Today, Doris Day's full-time career is her work with animals, and her non-profit organizations, the Doris Day Animal League and the Doris Day Animal Foundation.
The Doris Day Animal League (DDAL), established in 1987, is a national lobbying organization which works on legislation relating to animal welfare issues at the local, state and federal levels. DDAL has been credited with landmark events such as the 1998 California law making counseling mandatory for people convicted of animal abuse, 1999’s law banning "Crush Videos," the Dog and Cat Protection Act, signed into law in 2000, which bans the importation of products containing cat or dog fur, and the 2003 Exotic Pet Protection Act banning the interstate commerce of species of wild cats bound for the exotic pet trade.
The Doris Day Animal Foundation (DDAF), established in 1998, is dedicated to promoting increased protection for animals through educational and community outreach programs. DDAF’s Spay Day USA has been responsible for a landmark one million spay/neuters since the beginning of the program, helping to overcome the tragedy of euthanizing millions of unwanted pets every year. DDAF is also at the forefront of the battle to protect great apes from exploitation in the entertainment industry through special education campaigns such as the Chimpanzee Collaboratory, and DDAF’s Beyond Violence program travels across the country conducting seminars for police departments, social workers, prosecutors and other social services about the importance of treating animal abuse crimes seriously.
Each year, from 1948 until 1964, Doris Day was listed among the top ten box office attractions — the longest run of any female star in motion picture history. In 1989, she was honored with the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for her work over the years, and in 1991, she was given the Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Comedy Awards. Called "the most under-rated star of all time, since she could do so much and make it all look so easy," the range of Doris Day's work was without peer. She could sing and dance and act in films as different from each other as Calamity Jane and Love Me Or Leave Me, while playing everyone's dream girl next door, to the career women she portrayed in comedies such as Pillow Talk, Lover Come Back and The Thrill of It All.
Her co-stars in films included Clark Gable (Teacher's Pet), James Cagney (Love Me Or Leave Me and The West Point Story), Rock Hudson (Pillow Talk, Send Me No Flowers and Lover Come Back), James Stewart (The Man Who Knew Too Much), Frank Sinatra (Young At Heart), Jack Lemmon (It Happened To Jane), Rex Harrison (Midnight Lace), Cary Grant (That Touch of Mink), Jimmy Durante (Jumbo), David Niven (Please Don't Eat the Daisies), and many others.
Doris Day did not set out to become an actress. She wanted to be a dancer, but an auto accident put a stop to those plans. While recovering, she began singing, and, as a teenager, was singing with some of the best of the Big Bands. Her breakthrough was in 1944 when Les Brown brought her the song, Sentimental Journey. The song became one of the biggest-sellers for decades, topping the charts at number one for nine weeks, and a movie career soon followed. Her other hit songs over the years have included Que Sera Sera, which won an Academy Award in 1956, It's Magic, Teacher's Pet, Everybody Loves A Lover, her first song to earn a Grammy nomination, and Secret Love, which also won an Academy Award in 1953.
The question asked most often is why Doris Day is so involved in animal welfare issues. She explains:
The story of ‘Tiny,' my dog, always stays in my mind. His companionship was invaluable when I was a teenager and was in a car accident with a train that resulted in a compound leg fracture. I was on crutches for more than a year. He never left my side, understood my moods and gave me the kind of companionship that only a dog can bestow.
It was during this time that I began a lifelong love affair with dogs, a sentiment known only to dog lovers and, cat lovers too. Their affection and caring is a relief from tensions and anxiety. Tiny used to walk beside me on the pavement as I eased myself along on my crutches. One day, for no reason, he scampered away from me and into the street. Tiny was hit by a car and killed instantly. From that day forward I always felt deeply and passionately about dogs needing to be on leashes when in the street.