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A Conversation with David Kaufman, Author, "Doris Day: The Untold Story of the Girl Next Door"
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A Conversation with David Kaufman, Author, "Doris Day: The Untold Story of the Girl Next Door"

- Backstage with the Playwrights

Interview with David Kaufman
Doris Day: The Untold Story of The Girl Next Door Day
(Doris Day Filmography)

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
July 12, 2009

This is a conversation with David Kaufman, author of a best-selling biography of Doris Day, the American film icon of the 1950’s. His book, Doris Day: The Untold Story of The Girl Next Door, is receiving widespread press, not only in the US, but internationally. I caught up with David at Seven, a restaurant with new American and Italian cuisine, on Seventh Avenue, between 29th and 30th Street, NYC, NY, close to Penn Station and the theatre district. Proprietors, Niall Conroy and Ian Conroy visited with us, during David’s visit. We chose Seared Tuna Niçoise Salad with French beans, roasted red pepper, hard cooked eggs, marinated onions, capers, olives, and baby greens, along with cold Chardonnay.

David Kaufman has been busy in interviews, such as CBS in Pasadena, California, about this new must-read biography of Doris Day, one of my favorite film stars. Kaufman chose Doris Day as a subject, because “she’s terribly underestimated by the public.” He wants to “let the world know how talented she was as both a singer and actress. She made 39 films in 20 years, and she’s still a box office star.” Kaufman proudly says the book is now in its fourth printing, also sells in paperback, and is comprised of the synthesis of 150 interviews, including Day’s sole, surviving ex-husband, who recently passed on. Day is now an octogenarian, and Kaufman’s book revealed to him three surprises: …”that she’s been insecure about her looks and talent all her life”, “…the extent to which she is different from her ‘star’ image”, and “…how full of contradictions she is.”

Kaufman says Day’s fans wanted her to adhere to her “girl next door image”, while Oscar Levant said he knew Day “before she was a virgin”. Kaufman’s book has aroused some controversy with Day and her friends, as Day “put up barriers to her friends”, and immediate relatives were all deceased. Kaufman elaborated on early marital problems (discussed in the book), and he says, “both of her first two marriages lasted briefly”. The sadness underlying Doris Day’s life, he mused, was that all she really wanted was a happy family. A longer third marriage existed with Marty Melcher (17 years), but his subsequent death un-wrapped a serious financial breach of trust. Day subsequently sued for millions and won a large settlement (all in Kaufman’s book). Day was married a fourth time, as well, but that marriage ended in divorce. Doris Day now sponsors the Doris Day Animal Foundation, which gives grants on behalf of animal rescue and animal well-being.

Ele Franklin, who has read Kaufman’s new Doris Day biography, comments:

“For all her fame, she just wanted a happy family. She was married four times, but she achieved everything else. I had always thought her life was almost like Mary Poppins, so happy, but, after reading this book, I learned about her high points and low points, how human she was. I was impressed with this book. And it was wonderful, how she kept up her friendship with Rock Hudson, especially when he was so sick, showing her warmth in her private life. Now, with her Animal Foundation, I also see her love of animals. She must be a very good person.”

Kaufman has also written about Charles Ludlam, Ridiculous! The Theatrical Life and Times of Charles Ludlam. This biography also had two printings and sells in paperback, plus hardcover. Kaufman proudly discusses this book as a literary picture of Ludlam as “a theatrical innovator who returned to old theatrical practices”. “…He was the only person who wrote plays for his own theater. He wrote 29 plays in 20 years. He represented America in the 1950’s and ‘60’s.” Asked about new projects, David Kaufman said he’s beginning research for his next biography, the show business icon, Mary Martin. I’m sure he will again find surprises and revelations to share with us.

You can purchase David Kaufman’s biography of Doris Day here.

You can purchase David Kaufman’s biography of Charles Ludlam here.

David Kaufman, Author,
with his biography of Doris Day,
hardcover and paperback copies.
Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower

Seared Tuna Niçoise Salad
French beans, roasted red pepper,
hard cooked eggs, marinated onions,
capers, olives & baby greens
Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at