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DAY 4: DORIS DAY AND HOWARD KEEL, CALAMITY JANE

Cindy Maddera

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Day four of the album challenge coincided with the passing of Doris Day at the age of 97. I was bound to pick something by Doris Day and Calamity Jane trumped the soundtrack to Please Don’t Eat the Daisies. It was a close call. I went with Calamity Jane because it has one of my favorite actresses playing one of my favorite Historical women in a musical. It’s a trifecta of greatness.

In the summer, you're the winter, In the finger, you're the splinter. In the banquet, you're the stew, Say, I c'n do without you!

I mean, seriously.

My mom was the person to introduce me to the wonderful world of musicals. I don’t know if it was PBS or some other random channel, but Saturday and Sunday afternoons they would play old movies and musicals and I would soak them up. It was not uncommon to hear Mom belt out some random line from a musical or have the dial set in her car radio to the station that played classics. I had a very diverse musical education. This is one of the reasons why you can flip to just about any station and I will be able to sing along to the song. It’s a weird trick. Stephanie, my best friend from high school, said once that I was basically a radio.

I didn’t have access to cable channels until college, unless I was at my brothers. At his house, it was MTV all the time. Once I had my own TV with cable, I flipped between Turner Classics and AMC. Sometimes one channel would do movies with one certain actor all day. There’d be Carrie Grant day or Rock Hudson or Betty Davis movies playing all freaking day. It was awesome. My favorite days were when they played Doris Day movies all day long. I would watch them all from Lullaby of Broadway to April in Paris to The Man Who Knew Too Much to Please Don’t Eat The Daisies. She was simply lovely. She was pretty, but attainable. Serious, yet funny. Doris Day was just a joy to see on screen. I wanted to sing like Doris Day. I wanted to be as charming and graceful as Doris Day. Then you have Doris Day as Calamity Jane. I know the musical is not a true representation of history. It is historical fiction. Calamity Jane doesn’t fit the gender norms of that time. She dresses like a man, drinks and swears like a man. She shoots a gun better than most men. Calamity Jane is a feminist! She’s a woman living her life on her terms. At the same time, she just wants want we all want. She wants to be desired. She wants to be loved. She wants to be loved and desired for who she is. We’re all a little bit Calamity Jane.

To say that Doris Day will be missed is incorrect. The truth is, Mrs. Day has been out of the public eye for quite some time, well before her passing. We’ve been missing Doris Day for a while. Hearing the news of her passing at age 97 just makes me marvel at a life well-lived. She lived her life on her terms. Just like Calamity Jane.