The Sad Truth About Doris Day's Marriage To Al Jorden

"Wholesome" and "pure" are two words that come to mind right away when thinking of late singer and actress Doris Day. Day entertained audiences for decades in movies, hit record albums, and even a television sitcom. Even Day would have told you that this version of herself was a persona she presented for the screen, and it was not who she was in real life. Yes, her sweet and soft singing voice exuded both joy and sensuality, and her single girl movie roles in old time rom-coms like "Pillow Talk" made her the modern woman so many in the '50s and '60s strived to be, but behind the scenes, life was different.

Day, who was born Doris von Kappelhoff, arrived in Hollywood when she was still in her teens, ready to pursue a singing career after a car accident in which she broke both her legs kept her from a dancing career. Soon after, she met a man who would change her life, in both good and bad ways. And at age 17, she married him.

Doris Day admits her public persona was not her private one

In her memoir "Doris Day: Her Own Story," the late performer had some confessions to make and some truth bombs to drop on her legions of adoring fans. What you saw on-screen is not what was happening in the Hollywood world of the '40s and '50s. "After 27 years of band singing, radio, nightclub appearances, recording, movie and television acting, my public image is unshakably that of America's wholesome Virgin, the girl next door, carefree and brimming with happiness," Day wrote in her book, according to Cheat Sheet. "An image, I can assure you, is more make-believe than any film part I ever played."

When she married Al Jorden when she was just in her teens and new to the Hollywood scene, nobody watching her perform with big bands and in her first movie roles would have ever imagined what was going on behind closed doors in their short-lived union.

Doris Day married a man she had to get away from

Doris Day was blunt in her memoir about the man she wed when she was only a teenager. When she first arrived in Hollywood, she was there with her mother to pursue a singing career, and her mother disapproved of trombonist Al Jorden from the start — and with good reason.

"I was married at 17 to a psychopathic sadist," Day wrote in "Doris Day: Her Own Story" (per Cheat Sheet), before describing an episode of jealousy that led to violence after she received a gift from a man she worked with. "The minute we walked into our apartment, he spun me around and hit me in the face," Day wrote. "I put up my hands to protect myself, but he hit me again and again, knocking me into the furniture and against the wall. All the while he was yelling at me, in uncontrollable rage, 'You tramp... You call that a wife? Running up those stairs so all the men could take a good look up your skirt!'"

Over time, the violent incidents grew more frequent and more terrifying, with Jorden beating her when she was pregnant and refused to have an abortion. She eventually left Jorden after her son, Terry, was born, later writing that "I was indeed terribly young, and Al certainly would be a rotten father."

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.

Doris Day escaped an abusive marriage and thought she found the perfect father

After another short-lived marriage to musician George Weidler, Doris Day wed again, this time to her agent, Marty Melcher, giving her son her new husband's last name. That marriage lasted until Melcher's death in 1968, but during their union, Day claimed that Melcher would force her to take big money roles, and she thought at the time he was taking care of what she earned.

Upon Melcher's death, her son, Terry, had to inform her that her husband had embezzled money from her and squandered most of it away, leaving her in a tax debt worth nearly half a million dollars. While she sued Melcher's lawyer, Jerome Rosenthal, and was rewarded $22 million in 1974, The New York Times reported that her son, Terry, said in an interview that after a small payout from an insurance company, she got "nothing like that amount."

Day went on to earn money with a television sitcom and wed again in 1976, but her marriage to Barry Comden only lasted six years.