Doris Day made a name for herself as a singer and actress. On the outside, she appeared happy and carefree, but privately, she was suffering in an abusive marriage. Here’s what she revealed about the terrifying reaction her husband had after she announced her pregnancy.
Trigger warning: This article discusses Doris Day’s accounts of what she described as an abusive relationship with her first husband.
Doris Day said she was abused by trombonist Al Jorden
In her book, Doris Day: Her Own Story, Day shared some of the bone-chilling things she says her first husband, Al Jorden, did to her. The actor said Jorden would display what she described as “psychotic” jealousy. According to her, if he thought she was being flirtatious with another man, he would mercilessly beat her until she cried.
Day said the most frightening part about being married to Jorden was that she never knew what would trigger the abuse. “The tension of not knowing what I might say or do that would set off one of his attacks became an unbearable burden,” said Day.
There were times Day said she could talk to Jorden about his outbursts. She said he would be understanding and speak with her calmly during those moments. According to Day, he told her he couldn’t control his anger and his attacks were the result of “loving her too much.”
Doris Day’s pregnancy announcement
Day was married to Jorden for two years. She said she would have divorced him sooner if she hadn’t become pregnant. However, she discovered she was pregnant with their first child just two months after the wedding. Jorden cried when he first heard the news, but there was more to his tears than Day realized. Much to her shock and dismay, he revealed his true feelings about the pregnancy later.
“I didn’t know how Al would take the news,” wrote Day. “To my surprise he wept. I hoped in joy and not sorrow. He didn’t say anything, he just wept.”
Day said she was happy when she learned she was pregnant. However, her joy didn’t last long. “My dream of marriage and children was being fulfilled. And even though [my] husband had brutalized the dream, I supposed I hoped, optimist that I am, that my pregnancy would make him less jealous. But that was a rational hope, and Al was an irrational man. Actually, the period of my pregnancy was horrendous.”
The terrifying reaction Doris Day’s husband had to her pregnancy
Jorden cried about the baby, but they weren’t tears of joy. Day would learn he had a horrifying plan in mind. He didn’t want the baby, so he pressured her to get an abortion. When she wouldn’t agree, he tried to kill the baby himself. He said he was a traveling musician it wasn’t the right time for him to be a father. He went on to explain he would resent the baby and his wife.
“He got the water from the stove and made me put my feet in it,” wrote Day. “I was so heartsick at his attitude toward the baby that I offered no resistance. He took a small box from his pocket from which he extracted several large pills that he gave me to swallow. They made me deathly ill.”
Day said Jorden left her like that for most of the night, but she didn’t lose the baby. She said she became ambivalent about the baby because of how she was being treated by her husband. However, part of her wanted to keep the child. “After that night with the pills, there formed in me a desire to somehow get through my pregnancy with Al and then leave him as soon as the baby was born,” Day said.
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