Doris Day, the beautiful blonde whose sunny screen presence and silken singing voice guaranteed box office and record-chart hits in the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s, has died

By Liz McNeil
May 13, 2019 11:38 AM

She wasn’t expected to attend the annual Doris Day Animal Foundation benefit in honor of her 92nd birthday in 2014. But at the last minute, the song and screen legend — who died on Monday at the age of 97 — decided to make a surprise entrance.

When Doris Day, sporting her trademark pageboy do and a white turtleneck, entered the room at Carmel’s Quail Lodge on April 4 (the day after she turned 92), the Hollywood legend stunned guests cheered her arrival. Some even started to cry.

“At first I didn’t realize it was for me,” Day — who hadn’t made a public appearance in more than two decades — told PEOPLE at the time. “I couldn’t believe it. People kept coming up to me all night, kissing and hugging me. It’s all so exciting and sweet. I’ll never ever forget it.”

One of the biggest box office stars of her time, Day remained amazed her films had such an impact. “I am thrilled people love my movies,” she said. “We all had so much fun making them.”

Doris Day last public appearance
Doris Day at the Cypress Inn with Danny Levett and his wife Jeanne Levett
| Credit: CW3PR

Even at 92, Day said she kept in shape by exercising every day, taking long walks on her property with her beloved dogs, and eating a healthy diet. She enjoyed occasional indulgences such as a glass of wine (“Just one glass,” she said) and her favorite — ice cream.

“I love good and healthy things,” she said.

Doris Day last public appearance
Credit: CW3PR

Still, she was never one to focus on her age. “I just feel young,” she said at the time. “I can’t really explain it. I just feel that way.”

Day’s rep confirmed to PEOPLE that the actress died at 1:00 a.m. on Monday at her home in California.

The Associated Press was first to report the news, which comes nearly two months after the actress celebrated her birthday and shared a recent photo with PEOPLE.