- Paperback: 720 pages
- Publisher: Virgin Books; 1st edition (January 6, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780753518090
- ISBN-13: 978-0753518090
- ASIN: 0753518090
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.5 x 7.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 60 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,496,660 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Girl Next Door Paperback – International Edition, January 6, 2010
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There is a certain amount to like in Mr. Kaufman's "version" of Doris Day's life. It's a quick read, despite the length, and does touch on some interesting pop-culture of the 50's, 60's and 70's, and how Doris Day related to, and was related to by, that culture.
But too frequently, the negatives far out weigh the positives:
Too much of the book is lifted directly from Day's autobiography, as well as some other celebrity autobios, as opposed to new interviews. We're told many were conducted, but they didn't seem to yield much of anything that hadn't been told before. Many are also gleaned from DVD interviews and liner notes from the 1990's Bear Family boxed sets of Day's Columbia recordings.
There is much repeating of old movie fan magazine "interviews," the sort of which the authors seldom left their offices to compose, let alone always meet their subjects at all. They are frequently reported as fact, and often to discredit statements by Day and (frequently) her husband, Marty Melcher, made at other times.
There is not as much reportage here as there is supposition in many instances. For instance he hypothesizes that Day may actually have never remembered her young son playing with water balloons, but instead may have "inspired the memory" after playing a similar scene in one of her movies. No proof or reason is offered. He also maintains that Doris' marriage to Marty Melcher was entirely a business relationship from the beginning, and presents as proof their smiling wedding and honeymoon pictures: proof that since the photographs exist, and since the parties are smiling, it was obviously all done for publicity. It's a nice trick, presenting potential proof that might disprove a supposition as the very proof that the supposition is accurate. But it's still a supposition, and not a fact. For all his direct quoting of the Melcher-haters from Day's own autobio, any Melcher-supporters are summarily ignored or dismissed.
While he is quick to analyze anything and everything that Doris or her husband Marty Melcher might say (and frequently tries to prove that they seldom were ever telling the truth publicly on almost any subject from benign to important), he gives others a pass with no editorial checking or further interviewing of others to confirm what he then reports as hard facts. An ex-employee maintains that Day turned on him when he claimed that his co-workers had "poisoned her mind against" him, and he had been reduced to "a nothing." His version is portrayed as gospel, with no corroborating or refuting interviews done with the co-workers or anyone else. No examination of the possibly paranoid or narcissistic elements of the employee's statements is undertaken either. (There may have actually been none in the statements, but the phrasing does cry out for analysis, which is solely reserved for Day's and Melcher's statements.)
He depends heavily on the views of four particular fans who got to know Doris later in life: two as friends and 2 as employees. While their stories are indeed interesting, and add a welcome and unique slant, the major dependence on them in the last 3rd of the book bespeaks either a lack of access to more major players in Day's life, or a lack of information from major players that could be played up as "controversy."
Much space is also devoted to film budgets, grosses and reviews, Very interesting if you love Hollywood, but again, it smacks of filler.
Similarly, Mr. Kaufman spends paragraphs describing the contents of the pressbooks of most of Doris' films. While they can be mildly amusing for an old-time Hollywood buff or Day fan, their excessive appearance again indicates a lack of more major information to impart on his titular subject.
Sadly, this book also dwells on all the old 1960's carping fodder: Doris' insecurity over her looks and photographic filters, etc. Just when these were being forgotten about and new generations were discovering Doris without any of those old preconceptions, this book seeks to make them a permanent and integral part of her legacy.
Unlike the earlier reviewers, I don't think the book is for everybody. It's not simply "dishy" enough to appeal to the Enquirer crowd, nor is it the journalistic examination of this Superstar and the culture that the author intended or that would appeal to the more thoughtful reader, especially if they weren't already a major Day fan.
I think, most people are uninterested in lengthy film business matters. The more so as this was nicely covered in Her Own Story with A.E. Hotchner. I suppose, the fans are more interested in the person Doris Kappelhoff. As a distant Nollert/Welz cousin I'm definitely more interested in family affairs. Therefore I did like the additional information about the family, of course still not enough for me. At least I got to know, that Doris' mother Alma went to Germany to visit her relatives in Mückenloch. It's a shame that nothing valuable is available in the language of Doris' ancestry. Only what is written in magazines: gallery play. In Germany, most people think of Doris Day as Rock Hudson's costar. It's unfair, but they don't know better. I wonder why nothing was translated. Even my book about Spirulina, the blue-green algae, people can read in Russia:[...].
Doris should write her own book, all by herself like Shirley MacLaine. She would get 6 stars. And I would be more than pleased to be allowed to translate it for her. Like Doris says: If I can do it you can do it. We are all from the same source. And if we connect, we could do anything. Once, I dreamed I was an English speaking male actor. So I went to acting class to proof if it could be a past-life dream. Sharon Chatten critiqued me in a Santa Monica church: Great, great! It didn't look like acting! If I had read Doris' Her Own Story 20 years ago and if I had known that Doris is my distant cousin, I would have tried to do a movie. But due to my stage fright, I decided to be an author.
Conclusion: The book should be at least 200pages shorter and the letters 2sizes bigger. I still would buy it for its index. That's the only thing missing in Hotchners's book which is a lot more personal of course. Since Doris is involved, it is also more educational: Lots of wisdom, e. g. you learn up close to cope with stress: All in all a great self-analysis. Doris might be a good therapist. Like my friend Jocelyn, another great actress with less sisterly luck, was for me when I had writer's block or problems with my hubby. It runs in the family.
What is really saddening: Alma seem to have pushed Doris into a career. My mother Alwine who looked like Doris wanted a career as a singer, but her mother did not allow her. And her father, Alma's cousin, had not very much to say. Both second cousins broke out into tears. Doris when she said that career was one she never really wanted. In her own book and public interviews, she had stated clearly that all she ever wanted in life was to be a mother and housewife. My mother was a Hausfrau and only sang small-staged, in choirs and was highly distinguished for her diverse community work. But now she suffers from depression and though I was a family counselor, I do not know, how to get her out of this condition. Why can parents not let their children do what they want? But of course, in a way, as Doris' fans and relatives we are thankful for Alma's part of the business: 39 movies and more than 600 songs we may enjoy.
I had heard that there were many inaccuracies in this book, so instead of giving Mr. Kaufman any of my hard-earned money, I borrowed the book from my local library---which turned out to be a good decision! My library only has one copy of the book, so I had to go on a waitlist. When I finally was able to borrow the book, I was sorely disappointed in it. Mr. Kaufman wastes page after page on self-serving name-dropping and personal opinions. Most of the information is "hearsay" and he seems to take particular delight in portraying Miss Day as a vindictive, disloyal, workaholic who "easily moves on" when a friend displeases her.
Mr. Kaufman also insists that Miss Day was born in 1922. Miss Day herself says that she was born in 1924; what reason would she have for lying about this? And why does it matter???
I've been a Doris Day fan for as long as I can remember. I own and have read her autobiography several times. There was absolutely nothing in Mr. Kaufman's book that I didn't already know (maybe the title should have been "Doris Day: The Already-Was-Told Story of the Girl Next Door"...?). I was offended by the overall tone of the book; and I don't believe that Mr. Kaufman is a true fan of Miss Day's.
There are millions of us who love Doris Day. We appreciate her honesty and her caring heart. What we DON'T appreciate is someone who writes a totally inaccurate summary of her life for his own financial gain! Mr. Kaufman, I'm glad I didn't give you any of my money!