The Doris Day Show (known as
Que Sera, Sera in French) is probably the only show in the history of
television to have been brought on the air without the star's knowledge or
CBS signed Doris Day
exclusively, in the spring of 1967, without her knowledge, through her
husband and manager, Martin Melcher. Variety called it "One of the
industry’s all time plush talent deals." The Melchers would own the
negatives of the show, plus all re-run rights, and the rights to produce
movies for CBS (the movies were later switched for two extraordinary music
specials featuring the vocal talents of Miss Day). CBS was ecstatic.
For years, CBS had had to
deal with the unshakable Lucille Ball, now on her third series. She was
the network's biggest superstar, and was making more incredible demands
every year. Doris Day, being a major movie star and recording artist,
would create a certain balance within the CBS empire, giving the network
some negotiating power. The feeling was that Doris Day would be an
unbeatable value for the network. The only problem was that Miss Day
wanted nothing from television. Her only previous television appearance
had been on the game show I've Got a Secret in the mid-50s. She had made
major efforts to stay away from the medium, yet had no idea that within a
year's time she would be working very hard in it.
and Doris' husband/manager of 17 years suddenly died, having somehow
forgotten to mention this major television deal he had signed her
onto. Miss Day, still suffering from her loss, found by accident a few
complete scripts for a Doris Day Show. She was shocked, surprised, and
baffled! Barely recovered, she discovered from her son (who became
executive producer of the show) that she was locked into TV for five
"...With the distractions of her husband's
death and the DD show, a newly
recorded album was lost and forgotten. That was until 1994, when
The Love Album
was finally released..."
Far worse was that her
husband had invested all her money from 30 years of hard work with a
crooked attorney, who took it all after her husband's death. Doris needed
to work and needed to fight back. And, yes, she was successful at both.
Throughout her life she has been able to turn tragedy into gold. She did
that with her series, fought her attorney, and won.
Doris Day succeeded in
television where virtually no other movie star ever had (Fred MacMurray
being the other notable exception). Lana Turner, Debbie Reynolds, Bing
Crosby, James Stewart, and Henry Fonda all failed to create hit series,
but Doris was magic, and people welcomed her into their homes.
Television's Doris Day Show
was an innovative, fast moving, and creative series. It is sometimes noted
for having the most changes in the history of television, which is not
true at all. Doris Day played Doris Martin as a character who evolved
through the years and became, according to Vanity Fair (Dec. 95), “one of
the best working women on television.”
Without input from the
star, it was decided by the creator of the show, James Fritzell, that
Doris Martin would be a recent widow with two children, having left the
city to return to her father's ranch (CBS knew how to make those small
farm community shows, so why not put Doris Day in one!?!).
Doris made the show very
real and very human, as opposed to the other farm shows, which were a
little off the wall. Miss Day was not thrilled with the format, but
dealing with the loss of her husband, she let it go... at least for a
CBS was sure that Doris Day
would be an instant hit, so scheduling would be important for the show
which would follow Miss Day's. As it happened, The Doris Day Show was to
serve as lead-in to another new series, a serious one with journalists
doing major investigation The show was called 60 Minutes. The Doris Day
Show was scheduled for 9:30 on Tuesday, and 60 Minutes followed, hoping to
keep a large portion of her audience. The rest is history.
September 24, 1968 was the
day we all met Doris Martin, beautiful widow, talented journalist, fashion
trendsetter, wonderful singer, animal lover, and a determined, caring
person. It is no coincidence that those are also some of Doris Day's best
qualities. As stated in the 1996 Encyclopedia of Fictional People:
Martin is perfect. Blonde hair, blue eyes. She favors coat dresses and
color coordinated ensembles. She always smiles through her problems and
always looks nice."
The Doris Day Show was very
much a reflection of Doris Day's career. People who worked on the show in
front of and behind the camera had been with Doris for years. The songs on
the show were from Doris Day's albums or movie soundtracks. References
were made to her movies, and Doris Martin even met Doris Day (DORIS GOES
The Doris Day Show was
filmed, and never in front of a live audience. Doris wanted a situation
comedy that was not based on jokes. A lot of time was spent on selecting
locations, sets and backgrounds. The 1ook of each show was like a
mini-movie in a period when TV was turning to videotape. A show like this
today would easily cost $2 million to produce.
first season opening credits show Doris and
the entire cast walking on a vast beautiful field with the sun shining
brightly behind them, as Doris sings Que Sera, Sera
on the soundtrack with a choir of children. Though different arrangements
would follow, this would remain the theme song throughout the run of the
show. Doris Day had been and remains strongly identified with the song,
having sung it in among other films, Alfred Hitchcock's 1956 remake of his
own The Man Who Knew Too Much.
In the first year of The
Doris Day Show, shot at Golden West Studios in Hollywood, we discover
Doris Martin recovering at her father's ranch with her two young sons,
Billy and Toby, all feeling the loss of the husband-father "Steve," and
living far from their city home. A new loving environment on the ranch
would be provided by Buck Webb, grandfather extraordinaire; farm help
Leroy B. Simpson; plus two housekeepers, Aggie and Juanita, who never
worked on the same day.
The ranch was located at 32
Mill Valley road in the community of Cotina in Mill Valley, a suburb of
San Francisco. The house was huge. It had four bedrooms, two stairways
(one from the kitchen and one from the living room). Traditional American
furniture garnished the house, along with a beautiful fireplace complete
with a "Home, Sweet Home" sign right above it, and with ducks, pigs,
horses and cows all around.
Our main character was
definitely a hard working, loving wife and, although a city person, she
adapted well to the farm. Doris was where she needed to be, at least for a
while. She was involved with the community. She directed a school musical.
She even went back to work for a short time for "Women's World, Magazine"
in New York. Doris worked on the farm, brought
some important values to the kids, and even dated a little.
The cast for the series was
top-notch. Veteran actor Denver Pyle played Buck Webb, Doris' father, who
had been operating the ranch for three generations. Buck was a good man
with old fashioned common sense and a good heart.
Doris' older son, Billy,
was played with conviction and determination by Philip Brown, who recently
worked on ABC's The City.
Todd Starke played the
youngest son "Toby", a very sensitive young man who looked up to his older
brother and loved his mother very much.
Jim Hampton, remembered by
many for his role as Dobbs in F Troop, played farmhand Leroy B. Simpson.
He was very clumsy, causing more problems on the ranch than poor Buck
could ever imagine. He was a nincompoop.
Two maids were added to
the cast; opinionated and stubborn Aggie, played by Fran Ryan, and warm
and loving Juanita, played by Naomi Stevens.
Lord Nelson as Nelson the family's big, shaggy dog, and the first cast
member to follow Miss Day from film to television. Lord Nelson had
"co-starred" with her in
With Six You Get Eggroll. He was the most natural dog on television, and his relationship
with Doris and the kids gave the show a real family home atmosphere.
After her first year of
television, Miss Day took her show in hand and made some changes. Doris
Martin got herself a job with the San Francisco magazine ''Today's World"
where she would remain until the end of the series.
second season, a
new opening was created where Doris Martin says "Goodbye" to her family
and drives in her new red convertible to her new job in San Francisco
which to some extent mirrored the move made by the production company to
the CBS Studio City facility, where Doris Day was very happy to be
Que Sera, Sera
was sung solo this time by Doris Day.
Doris' first job at the
magazine was as executive secretary to managing editor Michael Nicholson,
played by McLean Stevenson in his first regular series. Mr. Nicholson was
a cautious and patient boss who cared about Doris very much. Although no
romantic relationship ever developed, it was hinted at now and again.
A special addition to the
cast this season was Rose Marie: "My understanding was that Doris asked if
I was available to do her show. I went to meet her, and we clicked
immediately and I did the show for three years."
Rose played the perpetually
single Myrna Gibbons, always funny and always right beside Doris.
Veteran character actor
Paul Smith was also added, as Ron Harvey, Assistant Editor. Ron was not
terribly smart, and always had a bad joke. It is a wonder he got the job.
As Miss Day says, "There's one in every office!"
Doris still lived on the
ranch and had the hard life of a commuter. The episodes were split between
the magazine offices and the farm.
The changes Doris Day
created helped the series tremendously. CBS moved the show to Monday
nights at 9:30pm, where it jumped to the top ten. Suffice it to say that
CBS was thrilled with their new acquisition.
Among the highlights of the
second season was DORIS HIRES A MILLIONAIRE, a special two-part episode
with one of Doris' favorite actors, Lew Ayres, as William Tyler, an
eccentric billionaire who needs to keep his identity a secret. Tyler would
come back again in the next season in two episodes where Doris would work
for him. Doris said of Lew Ayres that he was a beautiful person who shared
her passion for peanut butter. Other notable
second season episodes
include DORIS, THE MODEL, the first of four annual episodes featuring
Doris as a model; TODAY'S WORLD CATCHES THE MEASLES, which brought the
entire cast to the ranch under quarantine; and COL. FAIRBURN TAKES OVER,
the season finale that introduced Col. Fairburn, the magazine publisher
who would remain until the end of the series, brilliantly played by Edward
Andrews (who had made three movies with Miss Day).
Rose Marie reveals a droll
anecdote from DORIS, THE MODEL: 'We did the scene and nobody said cut. And
I looked at her and I said, 'Do you want a baloney sandwich?' She said,
'Baloney gives me gas.' I said, 'Ah, everything gives you gas!' She said,
'Is anyone gonna yell "Cut?””
Those fashion show episodes
were out of this world. Doris wore trendy, outrageous crazy clothes. Doris
Day may have been over 40, but she was the most beautiful woman on
television. These episodes were favorites with viewers and with Doris Day
herself. Miss Day can in all likelihood be credited with starting "Fashion
Another episode that needs
to be mentioned is THE GAS STATION, which was Rose Marie's favorite.
Working in a gas station had never been so difficult.
third season found
Doris Martin secure in her job and ready to stop commuting. A move to San
Francisco was needed. CBS, in expanding its budget on this filmed series,
decided to give Doris a beautiful apartment in the city of San Francisco,
built by creative Art Director, Perry Ferguson II.
The apartment was
distinctive because of its spiral staircase which centered the room, a
beautiful terrace, a red kitchen, an alcove with a piano and two bedrooms.
Her flat was decorated lavishly with plants, flowers, candles, and
antiques. Although the decor would vary from season to season, Doris
stayed in this great location.
965 North Parkway,
Apartment 207 where rent would be $140 a month, was conveniently located
atop Pallucci's Italian Restaurant (the best kept secret in San
Francisco). The owners of the building were Angie and Louie Pallucci,
played by veteran actors Kay Ballard and Bernie Kopell, respectively.
Angie was always eating, always on a diet! Her husband, Louie, did not
like children until he met Doris' and found out that they loved his pizza.
Again a new opening was
created, with Doris Martin greeting her audience by coming down the
now-famous spiral staircase, sequenced with the cast and shots from the
Another new and important
cast member would be Doris' old friend from her Warner Bros. days, Billy
DeWolfe. He played Doris Martin's nemesis and next door neighbor, Mr.
Jarvis. His most famous quote was when Doris would point her finger at
him: "Never touch, Ne-ver touch!" The three new cast members would remain
till the end of the series.
Highlights of the season
include TONY BENNET IS EATING HERE, guest starring guess who; DORIS GOES
TO HOLLYWOOD, in which Doris Martin meets Doris Day; and Doris traveling
all over the world in DORIS LEAVES TODAY'S WORLD. Season three also saw a
departure for Miss Day when she interrupted the Doris Martin saga with her
first musical special in DORIS MARY ANNE KAPPELHOFF, with guests Perry
Como and Rock Hudson. Doris sang some of her greatest songs: It's Magic,
Sentimental Journey, and Everybody Loves a Lover. The show was a huge
Season four brought some
exciting new changes and yet another opening, showing the new cast, some
new Doris modeling shots, and greeting her guests at the door.
Doris Martin became a "Today's World" reporter. She no longer worked for
the managing editor, Mr. Nicholson, but for Cyril "Cy" Benett, City
Editor, played by John Dehner. Cy was a driven ego-tripping, pompous,
cheap, overbearing, hypochondriac. "Get the story done at any cost"
his motto, but our heroine was determined not to let him walk all over
her. She argued, fought and defended her point of view on any story. Doris
and Cy would go head-to-head on many issues.
Another addition to the
cast was Jackie Joseph, who played Jackie Parker, Cy's secretary. She was
single, confused, and had big, tall hairdos.
For this season, Doris was
finally given an office, but it was the smallest office in the history of
television where Doris could reach everything from the chair behind her
Leaving the show was Rose
Marie, who recalls her time working with Doris fondly: "I loved her. First of all,
she's the most underrated talent in the business today. She's so wonderful
and so brilliantly talented... everybody takes her for granted... It was
wonderful to work with her. She was such a professional. So great to work
with. We still write to one another, we call one another. Christmas cards,
birthdays, everything. We were a nice big family, I know that's a cliché
that everybody uses, but it was true, because Doris was a very easygoing
kind of person. There were no tantrums. And if the kids had any problems,
they'd go to Doris or come to me."
As for her role being
eliminated, she is philosophical: "Well, they figured they wanted to
change the whole concept of everything. It's just like anything else.
You're not on and you're on, or you're on and you're not on."
Changes were important to
Doris Day -- give the audience something new every year; keep the show
fresh and entertaining. Doris, who was used to making two or three movies
a year, where everything would change, was always looking to find new
Season four brought the
most sweeping changes in personnel yet, as also departing the show were
Denver Pyle, Philip Brown and Tod Starke; as well as Mclean Stephenson,
who joined the cast of M*A *S*H.
No real explanation was
given for the departure of Doris' family, but it could be well assumed
that the kids went back to help their grandfather on his ranch, and Doris,
being the kind of daughter and mother that she was, would certainly accept
such a move and would certainly visit all the time (off camera) so she
would be free to travel and pursue her career. She dated some more
adventurous men. A major new love interest was brought into Doris' life,
Dr. Peter Lawrence (beginning with DORIS AND THE DOCTOR). Peter Lawford
played Doris' new beau, and the chemistry between the two was
extraordinary. They achieved a perfect balance of humor, love and
were more exciting trips around the world, meeting a sheik (THE SHEIK OF ARABY), and some thrilling undercover adventures and international
intrigue featuring our feisty reporter (A WEIGHTY PROBLEM, THE ALBATROSS,
THE SORROW OF SANGAPUR).
The major change of the
fifth and final season was that Doris Day became executive producer of her
show. Despite Miss Day having wanted little to do with television four
years earlier, now she was ready to do it all. She took over the budget,
the music, the casting, the set design, etc... and loved it all.
Mr. Jarvis became Doris
Martin's hard-to-deal-with landlord, while the Palluccis just took care of
The only regular cast
member added to the last season was Patrick O'Neal, (Doris Day's leading
Where Were You When The Lights Went Out?) who played foreign
correspondent Jonathan Rusk, another love interest for Doris. During the
last year, Doris dated both Peter Lawrence and Jonathan and America was on
the edge of its collective seat waiting to finding out who she would pick.
Highlights of the
last season include THE MUSIC MAN, in which a young musician falls in love with
Doris; ANNIVERSARY GIFT, wherein Peter Lawrence buys her a classic car;
and MEANT FOR EACH OTHER, in which she accepts a marriage proposal from
And so the series ended
with a possible marriage in the future for Doris Martin. Had the series
continued, Jonathan would have probably made a run for the White House,
and Doris Martin would have been the best First Lady ever!
After this fifth year, CBS
wanted desperately to keep Doris Day on the air, as the show was doing
extremely well. Doris kindly said, "I have done everything I can with the
series. My contract is up. Thank you very much," and made a graceful exit
from prime time.
Doris Day would come back
to CBS one more time; in February of 1975, with a musical special, Doris
Day Today!, featuring guest stars John Denver, Rich Little, and Tim
Conway. In 1977, Doris did a talk show tour promoting her book, Doris Day;
Her Own Story. In 1985, she hosted an informal talk show with music called
Doris Day's Best Friends, which featured Denver Pyle, Kaye Ballard, and
costumer Connie Edney from The Doris Day Show among the guests. In 1993, a Doris Day Best Friend
event was staged in Carmel, with media coverage presented on a Vicki
The other on-camera
veterans of The Doris Day Show continued working steadily long after the
end of the sitcom. In addition to the aforementioned McLean Stevenson's
stint on M*A *S*H, Denver Pyle enjoyed a successful run on The Adventures
of Grizzly Adams; Bernie Kopell signed up for a hitch with The Love Boat;
John Dehner continued to grace both the small and big screens with his
presence, often in far more sinister roles than Cy Bennett, until his
death a few years ago; and both Rose Marie and Kaye Ballard have continued
to be in demand as popular comedic actresses. Ms. Marie recently completed
her autobiography, Hold the Roses.
As for the star herself,
Miss Day continues to look to the future, now working hard with her animal
charity organizations that save the lives of many