He never liked it when she spoke to someone else, and would hit her ruthlessly.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on December 13, 2021. It has since been updated.
Trigger Warning: This story discusses physical abuse that may be disturbing to readers.
When Doris Day Died of pneumonia in 2019, tributes from the entire acting fraternity poured in.
However, her life was one marred by tragedies. She was only eight when she became aware of the problems between her parents, she wrote in her book "Doris Day: Her Own Story", according to Mirror.
When she turned 16, she started "singing six nights a week with Barney Rapp and his band at his new club in Cincinnati." In fact, it was Rapp who convinced her to change her name from Doris Kappelhoff to Doris Day.
One day, the trombonist in her band offered to drop her home. Al Jorden was tall, but one of the glummest people Day had ever met. But the then 16-year-old was smitten by Jorden, who was 23 at the time.
The two started going out on dates regularly, and Day was soon beginning to notice another side of his. He got jealous if Day even spoke to someone else, but " I thought his jealousy was flattering."
The couple soon got married, but it was only the beginning of trouble for Day.
On the second day of their marriage, Day received a gift from Jorden's band manager, and that's when all hell went loose. "The minute we got home he spun me round and hit me in the face. I put up my hands to protect myself but he hit me again and again, knocking me into furniture. He was shrieking “You tramp – you no-good little whore!”," she said, adding that she fell to the floor from the impact.
But a minute later, Jorden burst out in tears and went apologizing to her. “Please forgive me. I love you too much. I should not have hit you. I just can’t stand the thought of anyone else looking at you!”
Day said the most frightening part about being married to Jorden was that she never knew what would trigger the abuse. “The tension of not knowing what I might say or do that would set off one of his attacks became an unbearable burden,” said Day, according to Cheat Sheet.
At first, Day thought this was a one-off incident, but things took a turn for the worse when they found out she was pregnant in the second month of their marriage. Jorden cried when he first heard the news, but there was more to his tears than Day realized. Much to her shock and dismay, he revealed his true feelings about the pregnancy later. “I didn’t know how Al would take the news,” wrote Day. “To my surprise, he wept. I hoped in joy and not sorrow. He didn’t say anything, he just wept.”
She was happy to know she was bearing a child, but her happiness was short-lived. “My dream of marriage and children was being fulfilled. And even though [my] husband had brutalized the dream, I supposed I hoped, optimist that I am, that my pregnancy would make him less jealous. But that was a rational hope, and Al was an irrational man. Actually, the period of my pregnancy was horrendous.”
He didn't want the baby and tried to get her to have an abortion. "He made me put my feet in scalding water and swallow pills he’d got. God, was I sick... but nothing happened." All Day now wanted was to have the baby and leave Jorden for good.
"I don’t know how I got through those nine months. Once we were driving on a winding mountain road at 110mph and Al was screaming “I’m going to kill us both!” Another time he thrust a pistol against my stomach saying: “You and your baby – I’m going to shoot you both.” And when I was eight months Al came home in a blind rage and pulled me out of bed, dragged me around the room, and began knocking me against the wall. My body was badly bruised, one of my eyes was cut. I felt sick. I was sure I was going to have a miscarriage."
But the baby was just as resilient as she is, and she went on to give birth to her son Terry. Soon after, she left her husband and went back to her mom. “I was indeed terribly young, and Al certainly would be a rotten father,” Day wrote.
Day would have left early, had it not been for her circumstances, she added. “I didn’t have a dime,” wrote Day. “Also, I was mortally afraid of him, afraid of what, in his blackest fury, he might do to me and my unborn child when he found out I had left him. My body ached where he had hit me, and my heart ached for my baby, who would come into the world with this man as a father.”
Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by Hulton Archive