Katherine Heigl owes Doris Day, big time.
After all, it was Day who practically invented the romantic comedy heroine template that we know today (especially if it stars Katherine Heigl): The uptight, harried, over-scheduled professional with a fabulous apartment who just doesn't have time for love. At least until a handsome stranger arrives on the scene. I'm thinking of Day in "Pillow Talk." I call out this role out of her many fabulous performances for two reasons: 1. it's an adorable movie, and 2. Day's fantastic late fifties style is utter perfection. Of course, one can also appreciate the enduring appeal of Rock Hudson -- has there ever been a more handsome leading man, except for perhaps Cary Grant?
But Day's impeccably tailored suits, elegant evening gowns and pastel nightgowns make today's style seem so lackluster. And vulgar. I mean, we live in a day and age where casual Fridays reign supreme and one can stick out like a sore thumb merely for wearing a shift dress to dinner. ("Did you just come from a funeral, or something?" is a popular question.) Or wearing a shift dress, period. The contrast between the way men dressed in the fifties compared to now is even more startling, when you notice that Hudson rarely was without a tie or perfectly tailored pants.
Don't we also seem a bit dreary, too? Day's presence is like a ray of sunshine, from her bright blonde hair (she was, after all, a Hitchcock blonde in "The Man Who Knew Too Much") to her fresh-scrubbed glow, which can be sensed even in black and white pictures. She always seemed like a California girl, even when her character was supposed to be a New York City overachiever. (And even when her personal life was a bit more colorful than one would expect.) And her sophisticated yet feminine style, even off duty, always lent Day an approachable air. She's like the lovely new neighbor who moves next door and throws patio parties. You know, the seemingly perfect one with the pristine wardrobe, gorgeous singing voice and perfect figure. Day in the fifties and sixties made everything just look effortless.
Today, Doris Day turns 91 or 89, depending on who you ask. Let's celebrate her birthday by looking through her loveliest looks, on- and off-screen. Which movie of hers is your favorite?
Clarification: An earlier version of this tribute might have inelegantly added years to Doris Day's life. Day has said that she had added a few years to her age as a teenager in order to get singing jobs.