Doris Day puts her heart into pop music comeback, aged 87

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Doris Day, the US singer who scored her first chart hit in 1945, has announced a musical comeback at the age of 87. The Hollywood star, famed for playing sassy yet clean-cut all-American girls in the Fifties, is releasing her first new album in nearly two decades.

Day, who enjoyed a hugely succesful singing career alongside box-office hits such as Pillow Talk – which won the Best Writing Oscar and earned her a nomination as Best Actress – has not performed for more than 25 years. My Heart, out next month, is a compilation of previously unreleased recordings originally produced by her son, Terry Melcher, who died in 2004.

Her first album of new material in 17 years includes such tracks as "You Are So Beautiful (To Me)", a Seventies hit for Joe Cocker. "I had to sing some modern songs because I had already done all the old ones," said Day, who lives in Carmel, California.

Melcher, who co-wrote the hit "Move Over, Darling" – the theme song to the 1963 hit film in which she starred with James Garner – encouraged Day to pursue an unlikely West Coast rock direction, recording songs by the Lovin' Spoonful and The Beach Boys, which are included on the record.

Most of the unreleased recordings date back to the Eighties but she has added a spoken introduction to "Happy Endings", written and performed by Melcher, an acclaimed song-writer and producer who worked with The Byrds. The actress, whose hits included "Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera)", now limits her public performances to recording messages for her fan website.

Sony Music is hoping that Day's album, which has been playlisted by Radio 2, will match the success of Britain's Dame Vera Lynn, who became the oldest-living chart-topper in 2009, at the age of 92. Her Greatest Hits usurped Bob Dylan, now 70.

"I'm so thrilled My Heart is generating a stir," said Day. "I was asked to choose the songs I preferred for the album. These are the tunes that reflect my love of animals and my love for my son." The album also includes "My Buddy", which Day sang in her 1951 film I'll See You In My Dreams.

Day, named the top-ranking female box-office star of all time in a 2009 survey, recorded her first hit, "Sentimental Journey", in 1945.

From 1948 until 1964, Day's films were listed in the US box-office top 10 every year – the longest run of any female star in big-screen history. But she was dubbed "the world's oddest virgin" as her brand of light romantic comedies fell out of fashion.

Since retiring from the screen in 1968, she has devoted herself to animal welfare. Married four times, she discovered that third husband Martin Melcher had squandered $20m of her earnings.

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