"May she rest in peace", many Americans tweeted as soon as the news broke. Her 1976 tell-all book, "Doris Day: Her Own Story", chronicled her money troubles and three failed marriages.
The Doris Day Animal Foundation said the actress and animal rights activist died at her Carmel Valley, California home, after a short illness. One of those marriages - the first, to Al Jorden - produced Day's son, Terry Melcher.
Day also had hit records, most notably "Que Sera, Sera" from the movie "The Man Who Knew Too Much".
Day started her career as a singer, with her hit Sentimental Journey becoming a signature tune.
Her last film was "With Six You Get Eggroll", a 1968 comedy about a widow and a widower who blend families. On television, she headlined the CBS sitcom The Doris Day Show, which ran for a total of five seasons and 128 episodes between 1968 and 1973. Husband No. 3 was agent Martin Melcher, who mismanaged her fortune and left her in debt when he died. Though she never won an Oscar - an ongoing source of outrage among her fans - she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2004 and a Lifetime Achievement Grammy in 2008.
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The singer turned actress, starred in films such as Calamity Jane and Pillow Talk and had a hit in 1956 with Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be). Because she said, from the animals there's nothing but unconditional love.
She had celebrated her 97th birthday just last month with almost 300 fans who gathered in Carmel to celebrate with her. She even missed various awards due to having to travel by plane.
She married four times and had a child before she was 20. She fought animal testing and advocated for spay/neuter education and outreach programs in the U.S. According to her foundation, her early Spay Day program had become an global event, with World Spay Day providing thousands of free or reduced-cost spay and neuter surgeries in 75 countries.
Born and raised in Ohio, Day initially dreamed of being a dancer, but an injury suffered in a vehicle accident made that impossible. "She had several when her will was written, and she wanted to be sure they were taken care of".
Day herself was no Doris Day, by choice and by hard luck. Day once said the couple, who divorced, was "just incompatible", reported SFGate, which quoted her as saying, "She had 14 dogs, and the final straw was when I was kicked out of bed to make way for Tiger, a poodle". This was a major blow to the star who was very close to her son. "She could sing light or strong in any part of her range". There were a few would-be comebacks in the early 80s that never came to be, including a "Pillow Talk" sequel.
She had a chance to change course when director Mike Nichols offered her the role of Mrs. Robinson in 'The Graduate, ' but the star wasn't interested. Terry Melcher, who died in 2004, became a songwriter and record producer, working with such stars as the Beach Boys.