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PHOTOPLAY, EILEEN, DORIS DAY & the super fan who started me on my trip to fanhood and authoring.

I became a Doris Day fan after seeing the star in Calamity Jane in 1953.  I wanted to know more about her and sought out sources. Little did I realize how flipping through the monthly movie magazines at my local Murphy’s Five & Dime store would help me achieve my dream.

In the late 1950’s Photoplay Magazine ran a story inviting fans to contact them to connect with their favorite movie star’s fan club. There was an idea! I immediately sent off an inquiry. Within a month I received a notice that the ONLY official fan club for Doris Day was headquartered in London, England!  Needless to say, I immediately sent off a note of inquiry about how to join this group.  Shortly after I got their quarterly journal with the latest news about upcoming movies and/or records Doris had coming out.  On occasion, a fan would comment on seeing Doris in person. Lucky person!  One in particular was Eileen Freshwater from Canton, Ohio.  She would tell about seeing Doris at a Dodger or Laker game or in Beverly Hills when she was in the Los Angeles area.

Eileen! I should contact her! I think I grew up with a networking gene and immediately wrote to the DD Fan Club in London to inquire about how to contact this active fan.  To my surprise, they sent me her contact info! How NOT like today.

It was 1964.  Eileen was a waitress and could find work anywhere; she wanted to be able to be near her idol, so she was planning to take a trip to the West Coast. I saw an opportunity: Indianapolis would be a perfect first stop on Eileen’s four-day drive to LA.    I immediately wrote to Eileen to invite her to stay at my home on her next journey to California

My parents were nervous about my inviting a total stranger to stay overnight at our home.  My reply to their worries was, “Eileen has to be OK, she’s a Doris Day fan.” In she came, on the way to realizing her dream. Needless to say, we stayed up most of the night.  I had question after question about Doris, and Eileen was kind enough to answer every question! She was a long-time admirer and knew so much. As she left the next morning, she said she was planning to finally move to Los Angles, and if I ever wanted to visit, I could stay at her apartment.  Wow, what an invite!

On August 15, 1965, I took Eileen up on her invitation.  A friend of mine and I flew to Los Angeles, despite the Indianapolis Star headline “Planes being shot at LAX.” We were young and fearless and knew fun times were ahead and didn’t fall for the fear being promoted in media.

Eileen and her roommate Hilda, another avid fan from Wales, welcomed us. I had written to Phyllis, Doris’s secretary, asking if there was a possibility to meet Doris during my visit.  She couldn’t promise anything, but made arrangements for all of us to have a private tour of the MGM studio where Doris was filming The Glass Bottom Boat.  The tour was awesome, but no DD sighting.  Eileen, her roommate, Hilda, and I and my friend had a wonderful time just getting to know one another and sharing our love of Doris.

I returned to LA in 1966 and still no sighting, but we girls got to enjoy each others’ company and continue our love for Doris.

The old saying, ”Third time’s a charm,” was certainly true for me in 1967 when I actually got to meet my idol Doris Day, at Bailey’s Bakery in Beverly Hills on Saturday, October 21st.  Eileen had been in touch with Secretary Phyllis and it was planned for Doris to share some time with us. Doris arrived on her bike and spent nearly 3 hours with us…talk about a dream come true. She was as natural and welcoming to us humble fans as we had believed she might be.

I could never thank Eileen enough for making this possible—who would have known that browsing through Photoplay at Murphy’s would be the start of my trip to my own life as  Doris Day’s live-in secretary and a book about that life.

It is with sadness that I share the news that Eileen passed away earlier this year.  We had lots of good times together and if it weren’t for Eileen, I probably never would have met Doris and the rest is history…Thank you Eileen –RIP my friend.


Click back to purchase the new edition of Mary Anne Barothy’s Day at a Time: An Indiana Girl’s Sentimental Journey to Doris Day’s Hollywood and Beyond.