Doris Day may have been — once again — absurdly bypassed by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Board of Governors, but at least she’ll be getting some much deserved recognition from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA). Day, 87, has been named the recipient of the L.A. Critics’ Career Achievement Award of 2011 — or 2012, as the ceremony will take place early next year. (This year’s winners will be announced on December 11.)
The first LAFCA award winners were announced in 1975. The annual Career Achievement Award was instituted the following year. Since then, a mere four women have been recognized for their contributions to the motion picture industry: actresses Barbara Stanwyck (1981) and Myrna Loy (1983), editor Dede Allen (1999), and now Doris Day. Male recipients — sometimes two per year — range from auteur John Cassavetes to comedian/auteur Jerry Lewis, from producer John Calley to silent era pioneer Allan Dwan, from animator Chuck Jones to filmmaker Akira Kurosawa.
In the last couple of months, Doris Day made headlines while promoting her 29th album, "My Heart" — her first after a seventeen-year hiatus. Day began her film career at Warner Bros. in 1948, going on to become the biggest female box office attraction in the United States throughout most of the ’50s and ’60s. She was nominated for a Best Actress Academy Award for the 1959 comedy Pillow Talk, her first of three pairings with Rock Hudson (Lover Come Back and Send Me No Flowers were the other two).
Day did much more interesting work in Charles Vidor’s 1955 drama Love Me or Leave Me, playing torch singer Ruth Etting and getting slapped around by James Cagney, and in Delbert Mann’s clever 1962 comedy A Touch of Mink, opposite Cary Grant.
Among Doris Day’s other movies are David Butler’s musical Western Calamity Jane (1953), with Day in the title role opposite Howard Keel; Gordon Douglas’ Young at Heart (1954), co-starring Frank Sinatra; Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), married to James Stewart and singing "Que Sera, Sera"; George Seaton’s popular comedy Teacher’s Pet (1958), with Clark Gable; and David Miller’s murder thriller Midnight Lace (1960), featuring Rex Harrison, John Gavin, and Myrna Loy.
Also: Michael Curtiz’s musical Romance on the High Seas (1948), with Jack Carson and Janis Paige; Curtiz’s romantic drama Young Man with a Horn (1950), with Kirk Douglas and Lauren Bacall; Stuart Heisler’s Ku Klux Klan drama Storm Warning (1951), with Ginger Rogers, Steve Cochran, and Ronald Reagan; Andrew L. Stone’s thriller Julie (1956), in which heroine Day must rescue a plane from disaster; and Norman Jewison’s comedy of suburban mores, The Thrill of It All (1963), with James Garner.
Day, whose last film was the 1969 comedy With Six You Get Eggroll, received the Cecil B. DeMille Award from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association at the 1989 Golden Globes ceremony. Fellow Carmel resident Clint Eastwood presented her the award.
I’ve been told by an Academy "insider" that Day would get the Honorary Oscar statuette if she consented to appear at the ceremony. This source added that unlike eventual no-show Jean-Luc Godard, Day has made it clear she would not be in attendance. We’ll see if she’ll be traveling from Carmel to Los Angeles to pick up her Career Achievement Award from the L.A. critics.