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Wed, 15 May, 2019Over60

The truth about Doris Day's four tumultuous marriages

The truth about Doris Day's four tumultuous marriages

On screen, Doris Day was known as America's sweetheart, the wholesome girl-next-door who always found love. However, her real-life romances had been less than stellar.

Over her 97-year long life, Day endured four difficult marriages. These are the men with whom Day shared her life.

Husband no. 1: Al Jorden (March 1941-February 8, 1943)

Day first met the musician at the age of 16. The couple tied the knot in 1941 and had Day’s only son, Terry Paul. The marriage lasted only two years as Jorden proved to be physically abusive, beating her even throughout her pregnancy. 

“What had represented to me as love emerged as jealousy – a pathologic jealousy that was destined to make a nightmare out of the next few years of my life,” admitted Day. 

People reported that Jorden was finally kicked out of the actress’s house in 1943, and committed suicide in 1967.

Husband no. 2: George Weidler (March 30, 1946-May 31, 1949)

Day’s second marriage was with another musician, namely saxophonist George Weidler. While Weidler was not violent, he reportedly did not get along with Day’s son, Terry Paul. According to the Evening Standard, he was also cheating on her, and was convinced that her continued success as a performer would continue to drive them apart.

Husband no. 3: Marty Melcher (April 3, 1951-April 20, 1968)

Day’s longest marriage was with film producer Martin Melcher, whom she wed on her birthday in 1951. Melcher was also her manager after she claimed her original one, Al Levy, became “obsessed” with her.

Day initially believed that Melcher was the one she was looking for. 

“I seemed to have found the solid, serene life I had been seeking,” she said, claiming she had been charmed by “this man who had slept with me, adopted my son, managed my career and business life".

However, after Melcher’s death in 1968, Day found out that he and his business partner Jerome Rosenthal had squandered all her money, left her with serious debt and committed her to TV appearances that she did not feel well enough to do. 

After a long battle in the courts against Rosenthal, Day was awarded US$22.8 million for the mishandling of her and Melcher’s assets.

Husband no. 4: Barry Comden (April 14, 1976-April 2, 1982)

The Hollywood legend’s last union was with a waiter at her favourite restaurant, who was 12 years her junior. They divorced years later, with Day saying they were “just incompatible”.

In 1996, Comden told the London Sunday Mail that his ex-wife preferred the company of her dogs. 

“She had 14 dogs, and the final straw was when I was kicked out of bed to make way for Tiger, a poodle,” he said.

Both Comden and Day never remarried until their deaths in 2009 and 2019 respectively.