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Glamorous Possessions of Doris Day Raise $3 Million at Charity Auction

Steve Palace
Doris Day. Getty Images
Doris Day. Getty Images

The possessions of Doris Day were sold at auction over the weekend for $3 million. The 2 day charity event, held by Julien’s Auctions, featured around 1,200 items. These included movie memorabilia, jewelry, ornaments and a vintage car from her ‘Best Friends’ TV show. It’s a surprise result, with the initial estimate between $300,000 – $600,000. Proceeds are going to the Doris Day Animal Foundation.

Four Golden Globe awards were up for grabs, with one from 1962 fetching $25,600. A brass planter, gifted to Day by co-star and close friend Rock Hudson, made $15,625. The striking item is embossed with elephants, joining other household decorations such as ceramic dogs and animal pictures owned by the wildlife lover.

Top seller was “Buttercup”, a 1930 Model A Ford driven for mid-80s TV show ‘Best Friends’. One lucky bidder paid $96,000. That’s more than the vehicle’s mileage!

Doris Day
Doris Day, 1945.

The auction’s raging success is a testament to the star’s enduring popularity. Doris von Kappelhoff was born in Cincinnati Ohio, 1922. Mother Alma Sophia was a homemaker and father William Joseph a music teacher and choirmaster. Despite singing being in her blood, the young Doris originally wanted to dance. However a car accident in 1937 left her with a shattered leg. She then took to belting out a tune whilst she recovered.

Radio soon beckoned and, after advice from bandleader Barney Rapp, she changed her name to Doris Day. A recording of ‘Embraceable You’ led to her auditioning for director Michael Curtiz (Casablanca). To her surprise she was cast in his 1948 comedy Romance on the High Seas.

Doris Day
Publicity photo of Doris Day

Day was a big time movie star in the 1950s and ‘60s with hits like Calamity Jane (1953) and Move Over, Darling (1963) but chose the small screen in 1968. “Day’s sweet and charming persona seemed out of step with the times” writes “She starred in such films as the humorous western The Ballad of Josie (1967) and the family comedy With Six You Get Eggroll with less-than-stellar results.”

Behind the smile Day had her troubles, but was famous for her positivity. “I’ve been through everything” she told The Bark in 2006. “I always said I was like those round-bottomed circus dolls—you know, those dolls you could push down and they’d come back up? I’ve always been like that.”

Doris Day
Photo of Doris Day on the set of her television program The Doris Day Show.

Day was well-known for her work in animal protection, reportedly asking Alfred Hitchcock to improve conditions for horses and others during production of The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956). She was also a major recording artist, recording numerous albums. The last, My Heart, was released in 2011. She passed away aged 97 in 2019.

Julien’s epic auction was brought online. The Irish News reports, “auctioneers held the event over livestream from their homes, tracking real-time bids coming in online and over the phone.” A virtual tour of the legendary actress and singer’s home was available to view beforehand.

While branded a recluse, she spent much of her time responding to fan mail from her home in Carmel, California. Speaking to Fox News, pal Lea Price said “She loved her fans. She called them her friends and she made everyone feel as though they were her friends.”

Countless numbers reached out to her over the years. “The recurring theme was ‘You saved me’… She never quite understood that. She always felt, ‘I didn’t do anything.’ She appreciated the sentiment, but she was always amazed at all the love that she would receive from all over the world.” Price told Fox that Day often went out, and until her death was still doing charity work.

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Many were devastated at the passing of this all American icon. Yet despite the adulation, it seems she cared for others more than herself. No doubt Doris Day would be delighted at the money raised at auction for this most worthy of causes.