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Page last updated at 06:38 GMT, Thursday, 18 August 2011 07:38 UK
Doris Day: 'Whatever will be, will be'

Doris Day

Doris Day, the sweetheart of 1950s music and film, is launching a musical comeback, nearly 20 years after her last studio album, she tells arts correspondent Rebecca Jones.

"I just thought, 'let's do it' and I hope that my fans will enjoy it. And if they don't like it, that's up to them. Everybody has their own ideas.

"Whatever will be, will be, it's true."

Doris Day in the late 1950s
Doris Day was perceived as being America's "girl next door"

Releasing the album My Heart has been an emotional journey for Day, as many of the tracks were produced by her son Terry Melcher before his death in 2004.

"I think that he would just love the idea," she says. "He's there. He's with me. I just feel that he's with me all the time."

The music nearly did not see the light of day. When she moved to her current home in California she put all her music away and did not give it another thought, she says.

"All of a sudden, strange things started to happen. Suddenly I started getting mail. Fans found where I was. It was just lovely," she says.

Inspired to return to the "tons" of songs she had lurking in the vaults, she decided to release an album, just for the fun of it.

Doris Day never intended to be a singer and was already a successful child dancer when, at the age of 12, a car accident left her unable to use her legs for more than a year.

Taking singing lessons while recovering she found her new talent. She went on as a teenager to sing with big bands across the US, the time when she changed her surname from Kappelhoff to Day.

She galloped into the hearts of moviegoers across the world with her 1953 portrayal of cowgirl Calamity Jane, and has stayed there ever since - the vivacious blonde with the wholesome persona, an image she has never shaken off.

"I don't care," she says. "I think that's nice. If they call me the girl next door, I'll take it."

The reasons behind her films' success are still a mystery to her, however, except perhaps that it was because she enjoyed making them so much.

Doris Day in 1966
I wouldn't really like being in films right now
Doris Day

"It's just so natural to me. The scripts were good, they made me laugh when I read them. I had fun with everything," she reflects.

But the movie industry has now changed beyond recognition, and not for the better, according to Day.

"I don't like what they're doing now. I wouldn't really like being in films right now. It's just changed and I liked it the way it was. And I'll never forget that."

While her pristine image was always preserved in her music and movies, behind the scenes, Day's private life was no fairytale.

She was married four times - one husband beat her, one abandoned her, and one stole all her money.

"I can think of things that have happened that are so hurtful that I could just go to my room and sit there," she says.

"But when these thoughts come to my mind, and you could just drop when they do, and I stop it, and I go to a certain chair in my house, and I kick back and I talk to God.

Doris Day (r) and her son Terry Melcher in 1970
Doris Day's son Terry Melcher, who died in 2004, produced her new album

"And I say 'I don't want to be that way' and I am not going to walk around with a long face and be unhappy. That is just a waste of time.

"And when you get yourself out of it, jump up and say 'yay' and put some music on and dance. Dance by yourself, I do."

After her fourth marriage ended in the early 1980s, she all but disappeared from the public eye - quietly caring for animals in her home in Carmel, California.

But suggestions that she has become a recluse are far from the truth, she says.

"The town is so crowded now, you know, we have so many people. And I don't really like to get in crowds, that's just not for me.

"I have a beautiful place here, I don't have to go anywhere, I really don't."

Beyond releasing the album, she has no plans to perform in public, or reignite her film career. But she still gets a kick from looking back at her career in the limelight.

"I just had one great time, I'll never forget it."

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