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Doris DayFollowing the success of a Facebook campaign to land 88-year-old Betty White a hostess gig on 'Saturday Night Live,' fans of Doris Day have begun a new Facebook campaign to get their 88-year-old idol an honorary Academy Award.

I have never been a big fan of "Doris Day Movies," those pre-sexual revolution comedy musicals and romantic comedies in which Day always seemed to be playing a reluctant virgin -- even in the role of a single mother of three in her last picture, the 1968 'With Six You Get Eggroll.'

Day did receive one Best Actress Oscar nomination, for the 1959 'Pillow Talk,' the first of three hugely successful, innuendo-filled romantic comedies she made with co-star Rock Hudson. But if Sandra Bullock, the closest thing to a contemporary Doris Day we have, deserved her Oscar for her unchallenging role in 'The Blind Side,' Day certainly deserves one as the most dominant actress in screen history. Doris DayFollowing the success of a Facebook campaign to land 88-year-old Betty White a hostess gig on 'Saturday Night Live,' fans of Doris Day have begun a new Facebook campaign to get their 88-year-old idol an honorary Academy Award.

I have never been a big fan of "Doris Day Movies," those pre-sexual revolution comedy musicals and romantic comedies in which Day always seemed to be playing a reluctant virgin -- even in the role of a single mother of three in her last picture, the 1968 'With Six You Get Eggroll.'

Day did receive one Best Actress Oscar nomination, for the 1959 'Pillow Talk,' the first of three hugely successful, innuendo-filled romantic comedies she made with co-star Rock Hudson. But if Sandra Bullock, the closest thing to a contemporary Doris Day we have, deserved her Oscar for her unchallenging role in 'The Blind Side,' Day certainly deserves one as the most dominant actress in screen history.

You don't think so? While Bullock finished 2009 on top of Quigley Publishing's annual list of movie box office attractions, it was a first for her. Day did it four times, a feat matched or bettered by Shirley Temple and six men. Temple tied Day with four first-place Quigley finishes, and a legitimate push for an honorary Oscar could be made for her. Somehow, having a non-alcoholic beverage named after Hollywood's most popular child star doesn't seem like enough.

For now, I'll make the case for Day. As successful as she was in the '50s and '60s, when she made a string of hits with such co-stars as Frank Sinatra, Cary Grant, Jack Lemmon, Clark Gable and Hudson, her career could have been so much more. No less a talent than James Cagney, with whom she starred in two early movies, regarded her as a very good dramatic actress. Rock Hudson, Doris Day

Day was an established big band singer and recording artist when 'Casablanca' director Michael Curtiz cast her in a lead role in the 1948 'Romance on the High Seas.' It wasn't a stretch; she played a singer aboard a cruise ship in a comedy of mistaken identity. But her singing in the picture, which produced her hit recording of the Academy Award-winning song 'It's Magic,' broadened her audience.

On contract to Warner Bros., Day followed 'Romance' with a series of light musical comedies before getting her first dramatic role in the 1951 'Storm Warning.' The movie has been long forgotten, mostly because the similarly-themed 'A Street Car Named Desire' was making its way from stage to screen immortality at the same time.

'Storm Warning' starred Ginger Rogers as a woman who drops in on her young sister (Day) in a small southern town where she inadvertently witnesses a murder involving her sister's thuggish husband (Steven Cochran), a member of the local KKK. Attempts by the town prosecutor (Ronald Reagan) to get her to testify against her brother-in-law creates a huge family crisis.

Day has the lesser role of the sisters, but she gives a very believable performance and one that might have advanced the dramatic career of an unknown. But Day was too famous a singer to be nurtured in that way by a major studio. They were paying her for her voice and her girl-next-door beauty. Even when she did get a dramatic role, as in 'The Winning Team' and Alfred Hitchcock's 'The Man Who Knew Too Much,' her character was obliged to break into song at some point.

When Day did the 1953 comedy Western 'Calamity Jane,' a jovial, song-filled romp that featured another Oscar-winning song and No. 1 recording ('Secret Love'), she pretty much sealed her fate as a light screen comedienne. If that didn't end her chances of developing a parallel dramatic career, her 1951 marriage to producer Martin Melcher did.

Day trusted both her career and her growing wealth to Melcher, who guided her to that string of hit romantic comedies of the mid-'50s to mid-'60s while squandering her fortune in bad business deals and no small amount of embezzlement. When Melcher died in 1968, Day learned that he had committed her a CBS television show and had left her in debt up to her blue eyes. (She ended up suing her late husband's business partner and eventually won a $23 million settlement.) Doris Day

The TV commitment effectively ended Day's movie career; and when the show ended after five seasons, the TV career she hadn't sought was over, too. She more or less retired from entertainment to pursue her passion for animal rights. She is now a neighbor of fellow octogenarian and multiple Quigley list topper Clint Eastwood in Carmel, California.

I know I've made Day sound like a victim than one of Hollywood's great success stories. That's only because I would like to have seen what Day would have done if she hadn't been compelled to play the same character so many times. Even she has had trouble understanding how she became America's Virgin.

"I don't know where that label came from,' Day said in an interview with Barbara Walters. "Maybe it's the way I look. Do I look like a virgin?"

Reality check, Miss Day: You played an actual virgin in 'That Touch of Mink' when you were 40 years old!

Day could have shattered that image instantly and permanently had she accepted the offer to play Mrs. Robinson in the 1967 'The Graduate.' I know it's hard to imagine Day in the role, particularly given Anne Bancroft's stunning performance, but I can imagine her doing it and doing it very well. At 47, she was 10 years older than Bancroft, and the expanded age gap combined with Day's goody-goody suburban image would have made it that much more interesting. Who knows, she might have won an Oscar on the merits of a performance.

But what she achieved in a relatively short career is certainly worthy of a formal tribute at the Academy Awards. Similarly pigeonholed stars Mickey Rooney, Groucho Marx, Bob Hope and Stan Laurel all received them while still alive and able to say thanks. I say, give one to Doris Day while there's still time.