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Retro Redux: Doris Day’s Favorite Singing Co-Star

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Doris Day, who is in her late eighties and at last report doing just fine, has always been known as a classy lady. She would never actually designate someone as her favorite singing co-star, because she'd figure that saying something like that might disrespect those not chosen. But one thing is certain — for a while in the early Fifties she certainly had something special going on with Gordon MacRae.

By 1950 MacRae had already spent some time on Broadway and filled a few parts in films, but appearing with Doris in two movies that year — The West Point Story and Tea For Two — was a definite step up. The twosome also appeared in a studio promotional film called Starlift, but it was their next that produced one of their best pairings. It was a bright and colorful musical called On Moonlight Bay that gave movie-goers an idealized look at a small Indiana town in the years leading up to World War I. It was so popular that it spawned a sequel, By The Light Of The Silvery Moon.

Both movies were special favorites of mine as a boy, but not because of the leads. I was instead convulsed with laughter at the antics of Billy Gray, who played the little brother, Wesley. Gray, who would later go on to stardom in the TV show Father Knows Best, was at that time already an experienced child actor, and his scenes in the movies were genuinely funny. (See video below with Doris, Gordo, and Billy.)

In subsequent years, Doris Day continued to occasionally sing in her films but became more of a mainstream movie star. Gordon MacRae, was able to employ his leading man persona and mellow baritone in a number of different ways, often appearing on Broadway and in movies based on stage shows. Among his best-remembered are Oklahoma!, which featured his vibrant voice on songs like "Oh, What A Beautiful Morning" (clip), and Carousel, which included "If I Loved You" and other hits.

Although he made no secret of his battle with alcoholism, MacRae continued to work steadily throughout most of the Sixties and Seventies, often on TV, where he appeared in dramatic roles and musical guest shots. He eventually pretty much conquered his drinking problems, but his health began to fail. By the Eighties he'd not only suffered a stroke, but had also developed cancer. He voice was stilled in 1986.

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  • Janet T

    I have a hugh collection of albums from my husbands grandfather. Bob Crosby, Louie Armstong. Les Brown, and many more in impeccable shape. Is there a market for such albums?

  • dsinla
  • I share your love and interest in great music and in DORIS DAY! Enjoyed your blog and wanted to tell you and ALL Doris Day fans about the weekly DORIS DAY & FRIENDS radio show from FredNetRadio – this station can be heard world-wide Click on Listen Here Now

    FredNetRadio chose MIKE DeVITA, a long-time friend and fan of Miss Day to host this great radio show – The live show is on Sundays @ 3:00PM (EST) with an encore @ 8:00PM and Midnight on Wednesdays. Mike gives great commentary about Doris and her music and he plays at least 20+ songs and often more if the show goes way longer than an hour. It is definitely musical history with DORIS DAY all the way! People are listening all over the world and enjoying music the way it should be – the DORIS DAY way. FredNetRadio plays awesome music all day long – the very BEST from the 40s, 50s and 60s – from the Beach Boys, Frank Sinatra, Connie Francis, all the groups in the 60s and of course, DORIS DAY! She is featured at least 2 or more times every hour, and then of course during her special show, she is singing the whole show!

    A heads up for April 3rd – there will be a very special DORIS DAY BIRTHDAY SHOW on her actual birthday, Saturday, April 3rd, from 1:00PM to 4:00PM (EST). FredNetRadio and Mike DeVita are planning some exciting things for everyone who loves Doris.

    Call in to leave a birthday wish for Doris Day on this toll free number: 1-877-846-9180
    Call as soon as you can – these calls will be broadcast on the show and a CD will be given to Doris. It’s your chance to give Doris your personal birthday wish!

    Tell all your friends about FredNetRadio and enjoy radio the way it should be – with great music 24/7.

    I used to be Doris Day’s personal secretary int he 70s when she was filming her TV show at CBS…talk about a dream come true – had been a fan since age 10.

    Please join us in wishing Doris Day a very Happy Birthday! Call: 1-877-846-9180

    Mary Anne Barothy
    [Personal contact info deleted]