November 3, 2017

Beautiful Day in Cincinnati

The sun shone brightly on "Doris Day Day," as friends and admirers gathered at Cincinnati City Hall on September 27, 2017, to witness the Mayor and City Council declare a special day and name a section of a prominent downtown street in Doris Day’s honor.

The long road to honoring Cincinnati’s favorite hometown girl began a dozen years earlier with Dr. Bob Maltz, a lifelong fan, who felt the city should do something to recognize its arguably most famous citizen.  He just wasn’t sure how to go about it until he found Councilmember P.G. Sittenfeld —63 years Doris’ junior—earlier this year.  Sittenfeld's parents were fans and introduced him to Ms. Day's work. The wheels were put in motion almost immediately, and with the invaluable help of Chief of Staff Elida Kamine, the celebration extended to venues beyond City Hall to help raise funds for the animals: the cause closest to Doris’ heart.

The festivities kicked off with an early-afternoon reception at City Hall in a meeting room decorated with Doris Day posters, photographs and articles from Doris’ visits back to Cincinnati. While slides of Doris appeared on a screen, Lea Price, representing Doris and the Doris Day Animal Foundation, spoke about the organization’s work and Doris’ lifelong passion for helping animals. Singer Dee Mason, who does a local Doris Day/Rosemary Clooney tribute show, sang an impromptu a cappella version of “Teacher’s Pet,” and Joe Horine from the University of Cincinnati Film Department spoke about Doris’ legendary film career.

Attendees were treated to fond remembrances from Herb Reisenfeld, son-in-law of bandleader Barney Rapp, who gave Doris her first professional job singing with the band. Rapp also changed her name from Kappelhoff to Day, after the song she sang, “Day After Day.”  Ninety-eight-year-old Marian Collins recalled the October 13, 1937, accident that shattered Doris’ leg when the car in which they were both riding was hit by a train. While the serious injury sidelined Doris as a budding professional dancer, it set her on a path to an illustrious singing career, and according to Collins, didn’t deter her one bit.  When Collins and the others who were in the car would visit Doris while she was recuperating, “She would sit on the table in the kitchen, swing her leg back and forth, and sing and tell us about her music teacher teaching her how to breathe, enunciate her words, look at her notes ... how to hold them, and we got all these free lessons from Doris Day. She sang and we sang, and we had a very good time,” Collins said.

Following the reception, the well-wishers moved to City Council chambers for the official presentation, led by Councilmember Sittenfeld. After asking Maltz and Price to join him at the podium, Sittenfeld shared Doris Day’s video biography and read the Mayor’s proclamation, officially declaring September 27, 2017, “Doris Day Day” in the City of Cincinnati.  Price then read a special letter from Day, reminiscing about her Cincinnati roots and offering her heartfelt appreciation. Maltz shared why Day is so deserving of this great honor and suggested creating a “Walk of Fame” to include other prominent Cincinnati citizens. The City Council then took an official vote on the ordinance, establishing the secondary name of “Doris Day Way” for a section of Walnut Street, between 6th and 7th in the downtown arts district. The ceremonies concluded with an audio message from Doris herself, followed by photo ops with the street sign for all who came to celebrate the occasion.  See a video of the City Council proceedings here.

The festivities continued later that evening with a screening of “Pillow Talk” at the Esquire Theatre in Walnut Hills, which kindly donated a portion of the ticket proceeds to DDAF.  Joe Horine was back to introduce the movie and lead an audience Q&A afterward. DDAF hosted a table in the lobby with some of Doris’ CD’s and select items from their online store, all to benefit the animals affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

To cap off the celebrations, the following evening Gorilla Cinema’s Video Archive hosted a Doris Day evening and “Yappy Hour," complete with adorable pups bellying up to the bar and slurping water, while their people enjoyed a special Doris Day-themed drink created just for the occasion. “Please Don’t Eat the Daisies” looped continuously on the small screens over the bar, while outside on the patio, “The Man Who Knew Too Much” screened for the patrons and their pooches. 

Doris and the DDAF staff wish to thank Dr. Maltz, who persevered in bringing his vision of Cincinnati's honoring Doris Day to fruition; Council Member P.G. Sittenfeld, who embraced the idea; his talented Chief of Staff, Elida Kamine, and Director of Community Affairs, Colleen Reynolds, who worked so hard on organizing not only the official City Hall honors, but the additional fundraising components; Mayor John Cranley for the special proclamation; the Cincinnati City Council for their unanimous vote on the street-naming ordinance; Diane Janicki of the Theatre Management Corporation; the staff of the Esquire Theatre; Katie Fraser and Jacob Trevino of Gorilla Cinema; and the Video Archive staff for their hospitality. 

Last, but certainly not least, thanks to Doris’ family, friends and fans, who shared their memories, stories and love, and who made the Cincinnati celebrations so special.  Please enjoy some of the photos from this special event.