The actress and singer the world would come to know as Doris Day was born Doris von Kappelhoff in Cincinnati, Ohio, in the early 1920s. Day always wanted to be a performer, just a different kind of performer than the one she ended up being. She began taking ballet lessons at a young age, and was ready to become a professional dancer in her teens.
However, a 1937 car accident shattered Day’s dreams of a dancing career, both of her legs were broken during the incident. While recovering, the young teen turned to music to help her cope. Day’s mother, a music teacher herself, let her start taking voice lessons around this time. Day later said that Ella Fitzgerald’s singing style was her inspiration (via Biography).
In a few years’ time, she was singing on local radio programs and was encouraged to change her name, so the artist formerly known as Doris von Kappelhoff became Doris Day. She reportedly chose that name thanks to the song “Day by Day,” (per The Guardian).
As Doris Day, the singer and actress, she became one of Hollywood’s most famous stars. Then-President George W. Bush presented her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2004, saying, “Doris Day is one of the greats and America will always love its sweetheart” (via Twitter).