Norman’s Date with Doris Day (1973)October 25, 2005 No Comments
I got to the hotel and sat in the lounge, after a while a porter came in and said “Would Miss Day’s party please follow me.” He led us to her suite and I walked in. Doris was sat on the couch and looked stunning, dressed in red…
My story starts in 1954, after I had been to see Calamity Jane at a local cinema. I was a teenager and really loved the lady on the screen in her buck skins with her guns and I wanted to have her on my side. It didn’t matter very much to me then that she could sing, only that it would be good to have her as a friend. That’s how DORIS DAY first came into my life. After that, I would search the cinemas in Bolton, there were 22 in all, each showing a film every Monday-Wednesday, then a different film on Thursday-Saturday and again something different on Sunday.
In those days the cinema was always the main attraction and whenever I saw the name DORIS DAY, that’s the place I would make a bee line to. Usually when her films were released they would be shown at Manchester first so that’s the place where some friends and I would go to. Then we’d watch them again three or four weeks later when they came to Bolton.
Memories of some of the films are vivid, such as going to see The Tunnel Of Love and just before the film starting the record playing over the loud speakers…it wasn’t out in the shops so it was a real treat hearing it there.
We went to see The Pajama Game at Manchester, it stayed for three weeks, so we went to see it again before it finished its run. Lover Come Back came to the cinema in Oxford and about ten of us went, I remember that because if you passed a bag of sweets down the line, it would be emptied and never come back to you. I remember going to the Palace cinema in Rochdale to see …Daisies and to the cinema in Bury to see Pillow Talk, but Bolton was the one place I saw most of Doris’ films.
A group of us went to the ABC cinema in Bolton to see Jumbo and Doris’ picture was on the cover of the ABC film review which they sold there for six old pence, how I wish now that I had bought some copies. We went to see Julie at one cinema and had to ask the manager to turn the sound up.
Another time when coming out after watching Teachers Pet, the manager spotted me and said, I don’t know about teachers pet, I think you should be her pet.
I recall after we had seen Midnight Lace at the Odeon in Bolton, we went in the foyer and did a survey, asking people what they thought about Doris being in a dramatic film like that, and would they prefer to see her in a musical. One lady, when we asked had she seen any other Doris Day films said “Was she in Oklahoma?”, no, we told her. Well she said, “I think I liked her best in that one.” The results of our survey were later published in the Doris Day club magazine.
We went to see Pillow Talk on it’s return visit to Bolton and a friend of mine worked in the projection box there, I had just bought the record of Rickety Rackety Rondezvous and I asked would he play it in the interval, which he did, rather loudly, but it was great hearing it like that.
I went to see Love Me Or Leave Me in Bolton and about fifteen minutes before the film ended, a fight broke out in the stalls, then just at the moment Doris started to sing the title song, every one went quiet. After watching that film I went to every record shop known to man to try and buy a single of Shaking The Blues Away , but of course, it was never released as a single, mores the pity.
I have two memories of seeing Doris’ films in London. We were on holiday there when Jumbo first came out. It opened at the newly refurbished Empire on Leicester Square so we were there, only trouble was, I was so tired after all the sight seeing that I fell fast asleep and missed most of the film. I was especially sad to have missed seeing Doris singing Little Girl Blue because after it’s showing in London, that song was cut out of the film and it wasn’t till years later that I saw it. Then, I was lucky enough to go to the premiere performance of That Touch of Mink at the Odeon cinema on Leicester Square on Thursday May 31st. 1962. It was a thrilling experience, I felt very privileged walking into the cinema with photos of Doris all over the place and crowds lining the square. All the time, I was hoping that Doris would pop up.
Norman’s ticket for the British premiere of That Touch of Mink (1962)
The royal film performance in London in 1964 was Move Over, Darling, but even though I didn’t attend, I felt so pleased that Doris’ film was chosen for the royal family to watch. Those are some of my cinema memories.
I joined Julia Coleman’s Doris Day club and always looked forward to the journals and wrote to Doris quite a lot. When I got a reply it was fantastic. She sent a beautiful signed photograph to my wife and I when we got married in 1965, which went all round the room at the wedding reception.
We used to hold little get togethers at each others houses where Doris was the talking point. When the club finished, I joined the new Doris Day club which was run by Sydney Wood who later went on to work for Doris in California. I collected records, videos and anything I could lay my hands on about Doris and amassed a huge collection, and even going on the TV programmes Find a Fortune with my Doris Day stills and on John Stapleton’s show The Time The Place talking about the great lady.
I joined the new Doris Day society which was run by Alan Milnes, and later by Martyn Daye. I used to love reading the magazines, and always enjoyed the members page so much that I decided that I would contribute to the magazine, so I started to do a competition every issue, giving prizes for the winners. That was great fun and I also raised quite a lot which got sent to Doris for her pet foundation.
Over the years, I corresponded with and made friends with lots and lots of other Day people, some of whom I have remained friends with up to this day.
The climax of my DAY years came one evening in 1973 when I went home from work, had my tea then sat down to read the paper. There was four lines inside the Bolton Evening News, which when I read, I nearly fell off my chair. It said that Doris Day had arrived in London on a private visit. I went to work the following day and all I could think about was that Doris was in London. I knew that on her previous visit there she stayed at the Savoy hotel, so I threw caution to the wind and rang there to ask if she was staying there, no she wasn’t, so the only other posh hotel I could think about was the Dorchester on Park Lane. I rang there and asked if she was staying, yes she is said a lady. Have you seen her I asked, yes I have, then I thanked her and hung up.
I couldn’t think about anything else, so in the afternoon, I plucked up the courage to ring again and asked to be put through to Doris Day’s suite. I waited, not knowing what I would say, then someone answered saying, the press office, I told them I didn’t want them, I wanted Doris Day’s suite. Sorry they replied, she is not taking any calls.
After that I must have rang six or seven times and each time I got the press office. I was just about giving it up but thought that I would try one more time.
Can you put me through to Doris Day’s suite I asked. “Is that Norman Bamford?” Yes I said, “Oh, I have a suprise for you, Miss Day is giving a little tea party in her suite at 6.30pm on Wednesday and you are invited.” Can you imagine how I felt?
On the Tuesday morning, I got my wife to ring up work and tell them I was ill and in bed. Tuesday night I got ready and caught the midnight coach down to London. The driver asked me where I was going and what for. I thought if I tell him I am going to have tea with Doris Day, he would think I am crackers, so I told him I was going for a job interview. Blow me, when I was coming home it was the same driver who asked if I got the job, and I told him they were letting me know.
Anyway, when I got to London, I left my things at a friends house and went to Park Lane, I stood facing the Dorchester wondering whereabouts Doris would be, then I went back, got ready and left. I remember looking at the other people on the tube and thinking what they would say if they knew where and for what I was going.
I got to the hotel and sat in the lounge, a waiter came up and asked if I would like anything. After a while a porter came in and said “Would Miss Day’s party please follow me.” He led us to her suite and I walked in. Doris was sat on the couch and looked stunning, dressed in red, someone said this is Norman, and Doris stood up, held out her hand and said “Norman Bamford?” I was so taken back that she knew my surname, all I could do was to take her hand and say, I’ll be alright in a minute, someone handed me a glass of champagne and I was okay and in my element. Doris was sat on the couch with a man sat at either side of her, so I thought, I am going to sit there too and handed one of the men my camera for him to take a photograph. Guess what…it would not work, so I had to rely on some others there to send me photos of what they had taken.
I sat there for two hours listening to Doris talking and there were chocolates which she had brought over with her for us to eat along with drinks and snacks. She kindly signed lots of photographs and LP covers and showed us pictures of her four-leggers. Believe me, two hours passed like two minutes.
When it was time to go, I handed her a small gift and she said, “You have bought this for me?” then tears ran down her cheeks as she kissed my cheek, I haven’t washed since, (only kidding) but believe me, it was a night that I will never forget, Doris was the perfect hostess and as soon as you entered the room, you just knew that there was some one special there. I sent Doris a photograph of the two of us and she replied saying thank you and that she though the two of us looked very nice together.
Twenty odd years later, my wife and I went for the first time to America where we visited the Cypress Inn in Carmel. There are signed cinema posters on the walls, and Carmel is a lovely place, so clean and all the more special because Doris lives there.
Now fifty years after seeing Calamity Jane at the cinema, I still love all things Doris and am now collecting her films on DVD disc, even though I have all of them on video. So you see my friends, Doris has been a very big part of my life, there will never be anyone else like her. I hope most sincerely that you have enjoyed reading this and that you like the photos.
Take care of yourselves and whoever reads this, may I wish you many happy DAYs!