Here's Who Inherited Doris Day's Money After She Died

Doris Day was a singer and actress who was active during the 1940s, '50s, and '60s. The long-lived star died at her home in Carmel Valley, Calif. on May 13, 2019 at the age of 97. The cause of death was pneumonia, according to Day's charity, The Doris Day Animal Foundation, which made the announcement. Her death marked the end of an entertainment legacy that included notable contributions such as the tunes "Sentimental Journey" and "It's Magic." Her film and TV career also stood the test of time. She starred in numerous classic films, including "Calamity Jane" and "The Pajama Game," per IMDb.

Despite her illustrious film and music career, the actress's bubbly onscreen persona concealed a turbulent personal life. Her abusive relationship with her husband Al Jorden and her experiences with financial struggles would take a toll on the legendary performer from which it took her years to recover, as All That's Interesting reports. But instead of the stable personal life she craved, Day famously spent much of her time advocating for animal rights. Her namesake charity continues to carry on her activism after her death (via Britannica).

Doris Day's Early Career and Marriage

Doris Day was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1922 and it was there that her career started to blossom. In 1940, Day signed on to sing with Barney Rapp's band — a moderately successful jazz musician throughout the 1920s through the '40s. While the 16-year-old Day was living with her mother, Alma, for a time, that would change when she met Al Jorden, who Barney Rapp employed as one of the band's trombonists (via All That's Interesting). Her first impression of the musician was less than favorable. Doris found the 23-year-old abrasive and stated bluntly, "He's a creep and I wouldn't go out with him if they were giving away gold nuggets at the movie!" 

Eventually, she fell for Jorden and the pair married in March 1941 when Day was 17. Just two months into their marriage, Day discovered that she was pregnant, which didn't sit well with Jorden. He flew into a rage that resulted in instances of physical abuse. The volatile musician even attempted to induce a miscarriage through this abuse. Although Jorden wanted Day to have an abortion, she was determined to have her child. Day's son, Terry Jorden, was born in February 1942, as per All That's Interesting.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

Her Career and Activism

Per Express, Doris Day resumed her career after she divorced Al Jorden in 1943. Her first big success was with the 1948 film "Romance on the High Seas," after which she starred in several dramas, musicals, and romantic comedies. She worked alongside some of Hollywood's biggest stars like Frank Sinatra in "Young at Heart" and James Cagney in the biopic, "Love Me or Leave Me" (via IMDb). From the late-1950s through the '60s, she became known for her "sex comedies," as per Britannica. These were films that helped define the actress' contradictory image as Hollywood's sexual virgin (via Vox).

During her movie career, she also became involved in animal rights activism. It all started in 1956 when Day was filming "The Man Who Knew Too Much" in Morocco. She saw that the goats, lambs, horses, and other animals near the set were emaciated, and she refused to continue filming until they were all adequately cared for. This prompted Day to start helping at pet adoption events and other benefits for animals. In the 1970s, she founded the Doris Day Pet Foundation, which later turned into the Doris Day Animal Foundation. The organization's mission focuses on assisting other animal rights non-profit organizations. Even after Day's death, they continue to honor Day's memory by persisting with its mission (via

Who Received Her Inheritance?

Doris Day's third husband, Marty Melcher, died in 1968 (per Express). She soon discovered that he spent almost $20 million of her money, leaving her with nearly $500,000 in debt. She started filming "The Doris Day Show" to recover her finances and spent years fighting legal battles. In addition, Day had successful ventures in real estate, having owned multiple hotels and residential properties. By the year of her death, her net worth was $200 Million, as per Celebrity Net Worth. She passed with only a few family members. People reports that The Doris Day Animal Foundation received the proceeds from her $7.4 Million estate in Carmel Valley.

Terry Melcher was Doris Day's only son and he rejected the surname "Jorden," since it belonged to his abusive father. Instead, he chose to go by the last name Day's third husband, Martin Melcher. Terry had a lucrative career as a music producer, working with popular bands during the 1960s such as The Byrds and Paul Revere and the Raiders (via All That's Interesting). Melcher died from melanoma in 2004, leaving behind his son named Ryan. Day's grandson, who was her only heir, wasn't particularly close to his grandmother and it remains unclear if he inherited any of her wealth (via the Daily Mail).