January 13, 2012

Doris Honored with LAFCA Career Achievement Award

The Los Angeles Film Critics Association honored Doris Day with a Career Achievement Award at its 37th Annual Awards Ceremony on January 13, 2012, held at the Intercontinental Hotel in Century City.

Doris' Centerpiece

Floral centerpieces, including mini posters from Doris' films, and programs with Doris as the cover girl welcomed honorees and guests to their tables.  About mid way through the ceremonies, Brent Simon, President of LAFCA, introduced Doris' Career Achievement Award -- the highlight of the evening.  "All the honorees that we've had during my years in the group, I'm not sure that any other selection sparked quite as wide-ranging of an embrace from film fans across the world," said Simon.  "I can't tell you literally how many dozens of emails I've received from people in Germany, Russia, Ecuador, Australia -- for some reason once news broke of our selection in October, there were a lot of Doris Day fans out there who wanted to write us and thank us."

Critic Len Klady then took over and tantalized the audience with the promise of "surprises" throughout the presentation, the first of which was a lovely taped salute from Tony Bennett, "To a lady that never sang a wrong note.  Nobody ever did it better.  She was the ultimate professional artist.  With every move and every sound she ever made, she's just the most perfect movie star that ever lived." 

This was followed by musical tributes from Nellie McKay (who released a Doris Day Tribute Album, "Normal As Blueberry Pie," in 2009) and Robert Davi, who led the audience of luminaries (including Best Actor winner, Michael Fassbender (for all four of his films from last year) and Best Supporting Actor and Actress winners, Christopher Plummer ("Beginners") and Jessica Chastain, honored for her six films released in 2011), in a rousing chorus of "Que Sera Sera."

The biggest surprise of all came when Klady introduced "someone who was going to comment on the music tonight."  Much to everyone's delight, it was Doris herself, who was patched in by Skype audio.  "I wish that I could be with you, but I just couldn't.  I have so many dogs and cats, they don't let me get out of the house," Doris joked.

Next came a tribute reel of clips from many of Doris' films, beginning with a sentimental music track snippet of Doris' son Terry Melcher's, "Happy Endings" from Doris' new "My Heart" CD, and ending with a duet by Doris and Rock Hudson of "Pillow Talk" (recorded separately, but blended together for the tribute reel).

When the lights came up, Klady introduced Doris' long-time friend, Lea Price, who accepted a donation from Deluxe Entertainment Services on behalf of the Doris Day Animal Foundation.  The presenter (yet another surprise) was none other than this year's biggest breakout star and Golden Collar Award winner, "Uggie," the Jack Russell Terrier from "The Artist."  After "handing" over the check, "Uggie" was all too happy to perform some of the tricks from his repertoire for the appreciative audience before making his exit.

Lynn St. David & Norman Jewison

The big moment came when Klady introduced distinguished director, Norman Jewison, to present Doris' Career Achievement Award.  Jewison's heartfelt speech reduced Doris to tears.  Having worked with her on "The Thrill of It All" and "Send Me No Flowers" early on in his career, he thanked Doris for her help when he was just starting out.  "Your support for me started my whole career.  It was those Doris Day movies at Universal that really gave me my start in the business," Jewison said.  "After all these years, I look back on it and think of how much fun we had together and how much we liked each other.  Whether you know it or not," he continued, "you carry some magic in your heart, and somehow you reached out to the world...and you touched people's hearts."

Despite some technical glitches with the Skype connection that resulted in feedback and cut Doris off too soon, LAFCA's honoring Doris with a Career Achievement Award and the loving tributes accompanying it, were wonderful recognition of Doris' talent and contribution to the film industry.