Isn’t it obvious?
In a recent article in The New York Times, singer-songwriter and animal rights activist Nellie McKay asks “What accounts for the stupefying popular success of Doris Day?” Any analysis of Doris Day’s image inevitably leads to its inherent contradictions – Oscar Levant once quipped “I knew Doris Day before she was a virgin” – and McKay’s is no exception. This time, though, the focus is on her animal rights activism. McKay points out that “her pictures feature meat diets, carriage rides, careers in the cattle industry” and then details Day’s real-life animal rights activism; she founded the Doris Day Animal Foundation and later the lobbying organization the Doris Day Animal League.
To anyone who adores Doris Day, not least because of her commitment to animal rights, that contradiction can be hard to take. There’s the title alone of That Touch of Mink, but the plot, in which Doris Day plays an Automat regular who clings staunchly to her virtue, belies the outdated sexual mores of the time. It’s comforting to think that the mink coat belongs to the same category. In the meantime, Doris Day’s activism continues to flourish; in 2006, the Doris Day Animal League, which, amongst other things, has helped to pass legislation reducing animal testing and has made the plight of slaughtered horses a well-publicized issue, merged with the Humane Society of the United States.