Doris Day "had difficulty accepting death," her manager tells PEOPLE

By Alexia Fernandez Liz McNeil
May 13, 2019 08:29 PM

Doris Day won’t be having a funeral after she died at the age of 97.

The legendary Hollywood star, who died on Monday morning, made her wishes clear in her will, her manager and close friend Bob Bashara tells PEOPLE. “No funeral, no memorial and no [grave] marker,” Bashara says.

In addition to saying Day didn’t “like to talk about” a prospective funeral or memorial, Bashara explains, “She didn’t like death, and she couldn’t be with her animals if they had to be put down. She had difficulty accepting death.”

“I’d say we need to provide for her dogs [after she died], and she’d say, ‘I don’t want to think about it’ and she said, ‘Well, you just take care of them,'” recalls Bashara. “She had several when her will was written, and she wanted to be sure they were taken care of. She didn’t like to talk about the dogs dying.”

Doris Day
Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

An avid animal lover and animal welfare advocate, Day was brought up Catholic and was a practicing Christian Scientist after marrying producer Martin Melcher.

Day “drifted away” from organized religion after Melcher died in 1968, Bashara says, but remained “a spiritual person.”

RELATED: Why Doris Day Retired from Acting in Her Early Fifties: Hollywood ‘Wasn’t the Town I Knew’

“She believed in God, and she thought her voice was God-given,” he says. “She would say, ‘God gave me a voice, and I just used it.'”

Bashara says he remains unsure as to why Day was reticent about having a funeral, but explains, “I think it was because she was a very shy person.”

Doris Day in 1955 for Love Me or Leave Me 
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Getty

“She never let her celebrity affect her and who she was, and she was always the little girl from Cincinnati who was extraordinarily talented and went out in the world and did what she loved to do despite herself,” he says. “She was guileless, and I had discussions with her about how popular she was, and she would say, ‘I don’t understand it’ about why she was so loved.”

RELATED: Inside Doris Day’s Final Birthday Party at Her Home Near Carmel-by-the-Sea: ‘It Was Idyllic’

“She knew her fans loved her from all the letters, and that meant a lot to her,” he adds.

Bashara says Day’s estate will be donated to charity, per her will.

“The ultimate thing for it is to keep the foundation going,” he says of her Doris Day Animal Foundation, which she created in 1978.

Friends and fans wishing to remember Doris Day, are encouraged to visit www.dorisdayanimalfoundation.org.

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