Doris Day opens up about leaving Hollywood, losing her only son

At age 96, Doris Day is loving life.

The celebrated actress, best recognized as America’s Sweetheart, left behind Hollywood in 1973 to dedicate her life rescuing animals in need and she has zero regrets.

“I’ve been blessed with good health, wonderful pals, lovely fans and so many precious four-leggers. What more could I ask for?” Day told Closer Weekly Wednesday.

“I loved my singing and acting career, but my greatest accomplishment is the important work I do for my two charities,” she added.

And Day is eager to stay busy. Not only does she happily answer fan letters from all over the world, but she also stays active with her Doris Day Animal Foundation, which offers a scholarship for veterinary students. She makes sure to review applications submitted by hopefuls throughout the year.

The screen legend also surrounds herself with furry friends and wouldn’t have it any other way.

Doris Day makes a surprise appearance at her 90th birthday party in Carmel, California. The screen icon, who was making her first public appearance in two decades, posed for photos with her fans at the event at Carmel's Quail Lodge on April 4, 2014. Doris had not been expected to attend the party - a fundraiser for the Doris Day Animal Foundation - and guests gasped as she entered the room. Peter Marshall compered the event and 175 guests were treated to video highlights of Doris's lengthy career. Mr. Marshall and singer Sue Raney also performed a number of Doris Day songs. The event raised more than $90,000 for Doris's charity, www.dorisdayanimalfoundation.org
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Doris Day (center) with admirers.  (Splash)

“My household is full of dogs and cats,” she revealed.

But despite her enduring legacy in Hollywood, Day is determined to stay out of the spotlight.

“I have no regrets,” she said. “I’ve always believed things work out exactly as they’re supposed to.

However, Day has privately suffered from a painful loss. Her only son Terry Melcher died of cancer in 2004 at age 62.

“My son was the love of my life,” she said. “We talked every day, and I miss him very much. [But] we can’t change the past. I think you have to get through the bad times to appreciate the good things in life.

“I’ve had my share of both and I always say, ‘I’m like one of those dolls with the round bottom: If life deals you a blow, you just have to bounce right back!'”

But one thing that comforts Day these days is the admiration she still receives from fans.

“I don’t understand it, but I love it and I’m very grateful for it,” she admitted. “It means more to me than I can say, and I love them all… It’s been a wonderful life, and I’m not finished yet. I think the best is yet to come! I’m so proud of the strides we’ve made — and continue to make — in the animal welfare community.”

And Day has never forgotten those who’ve believed in her. Back in December, Day told Fox News she still cherished her memories working with “Dick Van Dyke Show” star Rose Marie, who died that same year at age 94.

“Ro and I hit it off from the first time we met nearly 50 years ago and have been friends ever since,” Day wrote to Fox News exclusively. “We spent countless hours on the set of my TV show talking and laughing. I loved working with her, but you couldn’t call it work because we had so much fun. We’ve stayed in touch all these years with regular phone calls, especially on birthdays and holidays.”

Both women found comfort in each other after being faced with personal tragedies while appearing on “The Doris Day Show.” Rose Marie worked alongside Day in the sitcom from 1968 until 1971.

Rose Marie was married to trumpeter Bobby Guy for almost 20 years until his sudden death at age 48 in 1964 from what The New York Times described as “a sudden, overwhelming bloodstream infection.”

Day’s third husband Martin Melcher, whom she married in 1951, died from a heart attack in 1968 at age 52.

The sitcom came to an end in 1973, the same year Day chose to retire and focus on animal rescue.

“We were both widowed, single moms and talked a little about that,” Day recalled. “I knew she loved Bobby very much. It seemed she was always taking home movies on our set.

“How fun [it is] for me to see those people again in the film and to remember what a fun and fantastic time we had on that show.”

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