Doris Day chats to Pierre Patrick about her successful years on American television
Published: June 17, 2010


Below is the transcript of the first interview which Doris Day granted Pierre Patrick to talk about her successful television sitcom ‘The Doris Day Show’ (from Mothers Day 1996).

Pierre Patrick’s latest book “A Beautiful Day – The Doris Day Companion” is available now.



Happy Mothers Day.

Thank you very much.

It’s great that I get to talk to you on Mothers Day. When I started to watch the show, I was just a little kid. And you were the perfect mother on television. And later on, I fell in love with you.

That’s sweet. Well as you know, when my series was on, I had two sons. Philip Brown – I love Philip so much – and Tod Starke, who played Toby. Tod was killed in a motorcycle accident at the age of 21. I was horrified when I heard that. I’m in touch with Philip, and he called me to wish me a Happy Mothers Day. He said “For three years you were my mother, and you were the best.” That was so sweet.

Now, originally you did not want to do the series, but you made it work and made it great! How did you do that?

I was a wreck the first year. I was in bad shape, but I didn’t take that on the set. I believe in giving 100% . And if you don’t, get out of it and don’t do it. You have to give your all and do it whole heartedly, really with your heart.

Connie Edney was very much responsible for the Doris Martin look. How did she make it all work, especially with all those fashion shows?

They were wonderful. I love our fashion shows. The bicycles, the dogs, the clothes… Connie did such a great job. She really has class. This lady has such taste and she knows me so well now. This is how we worked: Thursday would be the last day of filming an episode. On Friday morning, we would get a new script, read it, and rehearse. And on Friday afternoon, my favourite, trying on all the new clothes. Connie would go shopping Friday morning and put all the outfits together all around my dressing room. And Joy Turney would do all the alterations. Joy was great and she took care of all the other women on the show, like Rose Marie and Jackie Joseph. Joy was an angel. She would do the stitching and mending, and fast during all the fashion shows. She would whip those beautiful capes together in nothing flat. And Connie took such good care of me. We had the greatest crew. My makeup man, Harry Marit, who was with me for years was just wonderful. He passed away just a few years ago, and it broke my heart. His daughter is a makeup artist now. And my hairdresser, Barbara Lampson, who’s been with me for years and years, she is just wonderful.

Now how about those incredible sets?

Weren’t they fabulous?! Perry Ferguson II designed those. He even remodelled the kitchen in my house. I wonder what he is doing now? He loved horses. Maybe he’s raising horses. But he did a great job designing my apartment. I just loved him. He did everything right. We would talk about how things were going to be done, and he did it perfectly. And he also designed the farmhouse.

Let’s talk about the cast.

Peter Lawford…….well you know every time I think of him, I could cry. I just loved working with him as Doctor Lawrence. I thought we were really good together. We really bounced off each other. He never sounded like he was reading a script, and he told me the same thing. We always did our scenes like they were improvs from the top of our heads. I thought we were really right together. It is really sad that he passed away. Also, Patrick O’ Neal was just wonderful. I really liked him.

Your thoughts on McLean Stevenson.

Oh God! I just read something he wrote about me before he passed away. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t know he felt that way about me. He was very good and very funny. I don’t know why they didn’t keep him. I think the word around was that he was too goofy. And he couldn’t run a big magazine like “Today’s World” and be like he was, I guess in M*A*S*H, with his style of comedy. He wasn’t legit enough to do that. And John Dehner could be very much in charge and yet so funny and the same time. We had arguments. I would jump on his desk, I would put my feet on his desk, plus he gave me the tiniest little office to work in. Oh, John Dehner was my love. When he passed away, it broke my heart. We were good together. We used to crack up so much.

You and Rose Marie made a very good team.

Rose Marie was very funny. She used to crack me up all the time. It was really fun working with her. She now has a lot of dogs because of me. I used to bring two or three dogs with me every day on the set.

I know you used to pester her about wearing all those fur coats.

Oh! Oh! Oh! She would tell me, “Well you used to wear them!” And I used to tell her that was a long time ago. And no one was talking about it then. Nobody knew the abuse these animals were enduring. I used to tell her, “Get out of those skins!” She used to tell me, “You keep caring about them and I’ll keep wearing them!” She was bad. Oh! She called me Do and I called her Ro.

Jackie Joseph.

I used to call her Little Jackie Joseph. She was a very funny person. She had special values to bring to the show. I came up with this idea. I told her, “You should wear an outrageous hairdo. And when Cy would walk by, he would just go bonkers looking at your hairdo. And of course the hair was just normal for you.” And there are a lot of people like that. She loved it. She got the biggest kick out of it. She was in With Six You Get Eggroll.

Paul Smith as Ron Harvey, who also played Jodi Foster’s father in the first season.

Wasn’t that something? Wasn’t he good? There’s one in every office. He was marvellous. Do you remember the show with the dancing school, with Larry Storch? He was having a problem because somebody else had a dancing school. Rose Marie and I took dancing classes and I think Ron Harvey was in there too.

Bernie Kopell and Kaye Ballard.

He’s a genius. He was in The Thrill of it All. Bernie is an absolute genius with dialects. He just transforms himself. He and Kaye were brilliant together. And Kaye and I were really good together. “Wooooo! Have I got a fellow for you!” Always trying to fix me up with somebody. I’d say “Leave me alone, I’ve had enough!” Oh! I loved Pallucci’s Restaurant. We had such fun with those shows. It was so convenient that the apartment was located upstairs. With the terrace and the spiral staircase I have right here in my house now. As a matter of fact, most of the furniture in the farm house and apartment I paid for all myself. We bought good things, antique things, and I ended up with everything. It was really my own. That apartment had to be kept just so. I was always going around “Ay! Finger marks on the doorway here!”

Billy De Wolfe.

He was one of my best friends. Oh! He was so, so good. He loved all my doggies. And Kaye Ballard just adored him too. Now Kaye Ballard loved to have get-togethers. She would have so many people at her house, and the spaghetti would be flying! And Billy would be there and he’d say to me “Clara,” which was my funny name, “I’ll pick you up at 6:30 prompt.” He’d say it like that so I’d be ready. We’d go out and have such fun. We had a great time. I fell in love with him in Tea for Two and Lullaby of Broadway, two great movies we made together.

Denver Pyle, who directed some of the episodes, too.

Oh! Buck, my love! I love him so. He was so good as my father. We had such lovely, tender moments, and also in the first season Jim Hampton, who played Leroy B Simpson, was just the cutest.

Van Johnson

Oh! God! He’s another one that calls me Clara. So, so funny.

Edward Andrews.

Edward was in so many of my films, we were like related. He was just like part of my family. I adored this man. When I worked with him, he convulsed me, also John Dehner. Very difficult to work with him. We had to stop and the director would say, “Doris pull yourself together, we’ve got to get this show on the road.” But I couldn’t help it. They were just incredible to work with. All the people around me in my series and in my films were incredible. I adored Eddie. There will never be another Edward Andrews or John Dehner, never. The guest stars on the show were great. Lee Meriwether, who played Peter Lawford’s nurse, Henry Fonda, Tony Bennett, Bob Crane, and Jodi Foster. Remember that? That cute little kid? Plus, we even had James L. Brooks as one of our writers, who ended up doing The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Simpsons, and was nominated for an Oscar for Broadcast News. He wrote our guide episode, which is listed as our first where I work for a women’s magazine in New York I think it would be nice to get the series back on the air.

Any favourite episodes?

One that I loved was a man who came in to the office and invited me to a premiere (DORIS STRIKES OUT). He was very handsome, but I had a baseball game to umpire. And I wanted to do both. I had to rush home and get dressed. And I was calling everybody out to make the game go faster! And they were really safe. Billy would say “MOM! He was safe! How can you do that!” “I said out! I’m in a hurry! Lets get this thing going.” Oh god! I really enjoyed that. I had such a ball doing that one. Another one I like that I was winging it all the way through was where I had a date with a man who hated women, who was writing articles for the magazine (THE WOMAN HATER). And meeting me changes his entire view of women. So I had to change his mind again so he would still write for the magazine. Well there was a restaurant scene in the episode where the whole thing was ad-lib. “I have a corn on my toe.” I mean is there anything worse than that? For someone to say that? And I chewed gum and combed my hair at the table. I fixed my teeth. I asked him to hold my mirror so I could do that. I changed tables about four times. Then I hollered to the waiter “Don’t forget the ketchup!” and this was a fine French restaurant. And then ordering dessert. Vanilla ice cream with chocolate on top and the chocolate ice cream with caramel on top. And the strawberry ice cream with strawberry on top. Peanuts all over, “don’t forget the cherry!” none of that was written. They said “Come in and do what you want.” And I thought about the most obnoxious things. First of all, I was late and I came in and I went “Yoo-hoo!” Then I said “Are there any stars here? Cause I want to get some autographs.” All these things came to me. It was so much fun.

Any special favourite characters?

Well it would be definitely have to be Nelson. A dog among dogs, played by Lord Nelson. I loved him very much and I miss him terribly. One thing I must say, before we go, it was a really wonderful show to do !

And a wonderful one to watch!


This interview is reproduced by kind permission of Pierre Patrick