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Happy Birthday Doris Mary Ann Koppelhoff

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You know her as a beloved actress, avid animal rights supporter and if you've been to Carmel's Cypress Inn, maybe as a hotel owner. And you know her as Doris Day.

Saturday marks the 88th birthday of the woman once coined America's Sweetheart. While her film work ranged from everything to suspense (Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much with its soon to be Day trademark song "Que Sera Sera"), westerns (Calamity Jane) and drama (Young At Heart with Frank Sinatra) -- it was the romantic comedies that put her on the map.

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photo by Leo Fuchs

Day's portrayal of the pre-feminist independent-yet-feminine career woman was pure inspiration for an entire generation of baby boomers, myself included. From a Manhattan ad exec in Lover Come Back and interior decorator in Pillow Talk (she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress) to tv spokeswoman in The Thrill of it All, we all wanted to be Doris. Her characters had it all.

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Photo by Leo Fuchs

While her breadth of films are quite impressive, perhaps the second act of her life as an animal activist and supporter is the most inspiring. She founded the Doris Day Animal League (DDAL) in 1987, directing her lobbying efforts on animal welfare issues at the local, state and government levels. Day and her organization are responsible for the Dog and Cat Protection Act that bans the importation of products with dog and cat fur along with the Exotic Pet Protection Act that prohibits the interstate commerce of wild cats as exotic pets.

Day also founded Spay Day which has been responsible for over one million spay/neuters and has saved many a dog or cat from euthanasia. Other four legged creatures who have benefited from her generosity of time have been chimpanzees, horses and rabbits just to name a few. DDAL merged with the Humane Society of the United States in 2006 and her legacy and important work continues on.

Happy Birthday Miss Koppelhoff. Moviegoers and animals everywhere thank you.