“She didn’t like death” – Doris Day had no funeral, no memorial and no grave after she died

There are so many reasons to love Doris Day: he talent, her love for animals, and her humility.

In her 50-year career, Doris was well-loved and highly regarded for her film work. She made her name after starring in such movies as Pillow Talk, Love Me or Leave Me, and The Man Who Knew Too Much.

The 97-year-old married four times but only had one child. Terry Mulcher, Day’s son via first husband Al Jorden, died in 2004 of melanoma.

As well as achieving fame on the silver screen, Day was also a prominent animal rights activist. She was a very compassionate person who fought for animals without a voice.

American actress Doris Day in a fur-trimmed coat, circa 1963. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)
Doris was also a Grammy-winning singer.

Her songs Sentimental Journey, Secret Love, and Que Sera Sera were all inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, while her work with animals culminated in the formation of the Doris Day Animal Foundation.

In 2019, Doris Day sadly passed away at her home in Carmel Valley, California. She died after contracting pneumonia and her death was announced by her charity, the Doris Day Animal Foundation which added that as per the star’s request there would be no funeral services, grave marker, or other public memorials.

Instead, she was cremated and had her ashes scattered.

According to her close friend and manager Bob Bashara, she didn’t want to discuss the prospect of a funeral because she struggled with death.

And there was a genuine reason for her final wishes.

“She didn’t like death, and she couldn’t be with her animals if they had to be put down. She had difficulty accepting death,” he said in a 2019 interview with People.

“I’d say we need to provide for her dogs [after she died], and she’d say, ‘I don’t want to think about it’ and she said, ‘Well, you just take care of them,’” recalls Bashara.

“She had several when her will was written, and she wanted to be sure they were taken care of. She didn’t like to talk about the dogs dying.”

From the early 70s Day was an avid campaigner for animal rights denouncing the wearing of fur and setting up the Doris Day Animal Foundation.

In 2020 she auctioned more than 1,000 of her possessions raising $3 million for the cause and even helped to set up a Horse Rescue and Adoption Center, which helps abused and neglected horses, in Texas.

Day was brought up Catholic and was a practicing Christian Scientist after marrying producer Martin Melcher.

Her only child Terrence “Terry” Paul Jorden was born during her first marriage to trombonist Al Jorden who she met when she was 16. Jorden later changed his name to Terrence Paul Melcher when he was adopted by Day’s third husband film producer Martin Melcher.

Day “drifted away” from organized religion after Melcher died in 1968, Bashara told People, but remained “a spiritual person.”

“She believed in God, and she thought her voice was God-given,” he says. “She would say, ‘God gave me a voice, and I just used it.’”

Day retired from acting in the early 70s but did return for two TV shows. Then in 1985 she hosted her own television talk show “Doris Day’s Best Friends”, on the Christian Broadcasting Network which ran for a year.

Her friend and manager Bashara says he remains unsure as to why Day was reluctant to have a funeral, but explains, “I think it was because she was a very shy person.”

He said Day knew her fans loved her from the letters she received but never understood why so many people loved her.

“She never let her celebrity affect her and who she was, and she was always the little girl from Cincinnati who was extraordinarily talented and went out in the world and did what she loved to do despite herself,” he says.

She was cremated and had her ashes scattered.

Her estate was donated to charity.

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