Although Doris Day spent most of her life melting hearts in Hollywood, she had a hard time finding her one true love. Get inside the legendary actress’s four marriages.
American actress and singer Doris Day enjoyed an impressive career in her lifetime. She was formerly part of a big band before going on to have a solo career and recording over 650 songs from 1947 to 1967.
She was also one of Hollywood’s biggest stars in the 1950s-1960s as she starred in several film genres, including dramas, comedies, musicals, and thrillers.
Doris Day and husband Barry Comden at the Pierre Hotel on February 01, 1976. [Left] | American actress Doris Day poses for a photo. [Right] | Photo: Getty Images
She worked with stars like James Steward, Rock Hudson, James Garner, Clark Gable, and many more during her storied career. She was also the star of her own sitcom “The Doris Day Show,” which aired from 1968 to 1973.
Day received multiple awards and honors for her extraordinary achievements in the entertainment industry. In 1989, she received the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement in motion pictures.
Portrait photo of American actress Doris Day in a fur-trimmed coat, circa 1963. | Photo: Getty Images
She also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2004 and the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008. While Day’s achievements in music and movies are unquestionable, she did not have it so easy in her marital life and always searched for true love.
The iconic star was married four times in her lifetime and involved in other relationships that did not end in matrimony. Find out more about her four marriages and the relationships.
Photo of American actress and singer Doris Day sits cross-legged and barefoot in a rattan chair, circa 1955. | Photo: Getty Images
Day’s first marriage was to Al Jorden, a trombonist, who she started dating at 16. He was seven years older than she was and had brooding moods, which probably seemed romantic to the teenage Day.
Day and Jorden tied the knot in 1941, but their union was bedeviled with issues as he was a serial cheater and prone to fits of jealous rage.
On one occasion, they were walking past a newsstand in New York when he saw her photograph on the cover of a magazine. In the snap, she was wearing a swimsuit.
Portrait photo of American actress Doris Day, circa 1960. | Photo: Getty Images
Immediately, he was consumed by jealousy and slapped her across the face multiple times in front of dozens of shocked fans. Jorden also called Day a “dirty whore” so many times that she lost count.
Jorden always followed his frequent abuse of his wife with passionate reconciliations. Soon, she discovered she was pregnant and thought he would be happy.
However, she was wrong because he tried to force her into aborting the baby when she told him about the pregnancy until her mom intervened.
Portrait of American movie and television star, singer, and a friend to all the animals Doris Day as she wears a flower brooch, circa 1966. | Photo: Getty Images
Later, he concluded that the child was not his and beat her to the extent that she almost miscarried. On February 7, 1942, the then-18-year-old Day gave birth to her and Jorden’s only son, who she named Terry.
After Terry’s birth, Jorden seemed to be remorseful and asked Day for forgiveness. She foolishly agreed and gave him another chance. However, she was met with more abuse and eventually left him as she was scared for her son’s safety.
Portrait of American actress and singer Doris Day, circa 1962. | Photo: Getty Images
In 1946, Day married for the second time to George Weidler, a big band musician. However, their marriage was barely eight months old when Weidler, who turned out to be a womanizer, left her and Terry because her career was beginning to outshine his.
Besides O’Neal, Day also dated future President of the United States.
Doris Day rehearses with her husband George Weidler smoking a pipe on the piano in 1952. | Photo: Getty Images
When Day was 27, she married agent and producer Marty Melcher. Initially, their marriage looked happy and stable as he adopted her son and bought her a big house in Beverly Hills.
He also helped to make her a superstar in films like “Love Me or Leave Me” (1955) and “Pillow Talk” (1959). Their union seemed to be going well on the outside, but actually, things were going badly in private.
Melcher was the kind of man who wanted control over his wife. Besides controlling Day, he often engaged in violent confrontations with her son, Terry, who he sent off to boarding school without consulting her.
American actress Doris Day with husband Marty Melcher at the film premiere of ‘A Star Is Born’ featuring Judy Garland October 13, 1954. | Photo: Getty Images
After Melcher’s death following a sudden heart attack, Day knew how deeply she was in debt due to his mismanagement of their finances. In fact, he cost her sanity and a huge amount of fortune.
She discovered he had signed an ironclad contract to appear in a television series without her approval or consent.
It took the actress many years of work and the guidance of Terry, who took charge of managing her career before she could come out of the financial turmoil Melcher had put her into.
American actor and singer Doris Day dancing with her third husband, agent Marty Melcher, at a party circa 1955. | Photo: Getty Images
In 1975, Day met Barry Comden, a restaurateur, who was ten years her junior. They spoke at length for months and started dating. In April 1976, they got married at a friend’s home in Carmel, California.
Day spoke glowingly about her relationship with Comden. She described him as a beautiful person and said they had a beautiful relationship, better than any she ever had.
Portrait of American actress Doris Day, circa 1965. | Photo: Getty Images
Day also said she was romantically fulfilled with Comden and said they were very happy with each other. Also, she said she was contented, happy, and outgoing.
Comden helped Day to set up the Doris Day Animal Foundation. However, they were an ill-suited couple and separated in 1981, five years after tying the knot.
Doris Day and husband Barry Comden at the Pierre Hotel on February 01, 1976. | Photo: Getty Images
DAY’S OTHER RELATIONSHIPS
Besides her four marriages, Day was involved with other men. She had a year-long relationship with Patrick O’Neal, who she was happy to see on the set of her show, “The Doris Day Show.”
O’Neal had previously played her husband in the 1968 movie “Where Were You When the Lights Went Out?” Her relationship with him was one of the happiest romances of her life as she described him as being totally different from the men she had dated before meeting him.
Day confessed to being in a bad place when O’Neal appeared on her show to play her love interest in 1972.
Actress Doris Day having lunch in Hollywood, California on February 25,1970. | Photo: Getty Images
Then, she was handling the issues emanating from Melcher’s mishandling of her finances while her son, Terry, had broken his legs following a life-threatening motorcycle crash.
She fell for him not because he was a father figure like Melcher but an adult, forceful man. He was also a nice person; hence, she did not mind him having a longtime wife in New York.
Although he confessed that his marriage was unhappy and only remained because of the kids involved, Day did not care about that. However, after 12 months of being together, O’Neal returned to New York with his wife.
Studio Portrait Doris Day in publicity portrait for the film ‘It’s A Great Feeling’, circa 1949. | Photo: Getty Images
Despite their separation, Day always remembered him fondly. She described the year with O’Neal as marvelous, adding that she badly needed uplifting, and he uplifted her.
Besides O’Neal, Day also dated future President of the United States, Ronald Reagan, while they starred in the film “The Winning Team” (1952).
In her 1975 tell-all book “Doris Day: Her Own Story,” she described her affair with Reagan and what he was like before becoming the President.
Actress Doris Day poses for a photo in 1959 in Los Angeles, California. | Photo: Getty Images
According to Day, Reagan was a skilled dancer who loved to go out. He was also a man who believed in his words. She was impressed by his ability to express himself and felt he should go on speaking tours.
Although Day never found lasting, supportive love, she never sulked about it and believed she was blessed with a wonderful son, good friends, and fans who were always devoted to her.
She had no regrets as she believed things would always work out the way they were meant to be. She died on May 13, 2019, at 97, due to pneumonia.