You have to keep reinventing yourself

    Born in the same general era, Doris Kappelhoff and I had something in common. We both grew up with beloved dogs named Tiny.
    My Tiny was a huge purebred German Shepherd. Tiny and I were born at the same time, and one of my first candid pictures is of a 6-month little girl sitting on the ground with a huge 6-month German Shepherd standing guard.
    Tiny took care of me for 11 glorious years. And I was devastated when Tiny had to be put asleep because of health problems.
    Of course, we got another dog immediately. But Buster wasn't Tiny! And besides, Buster was my brother Jim's dog.
    Doris also had a very special relationship with her little black and tan dog named Tiny. At age 13, Doris was in a car that was broadsided by a train at full speed. Doris and her friends escaped with their lives, but they all had serious injuries.
    Doris spent months in a wheelchair and a year on crutches. Tiny was her devoted companion.
    When she took her daily walk on crutches, Tiny walked obediently beside her on the sidewalk without a leash because she was afraid that the leash would get tangled with her crutches.
    Then one day, Tiny darted across the street and was killed and Doris was grief-stricken.
    Now, all these years later, Doris and I both still love dogs; we know how smart they are and what wonderful friends they make. But there the comparison stops.
    I have had a wonderful life “without fame or fortune.” Doris Kappelhoff, on the other hand, later changed her name to Doris Day. And as we all know, she has had a wonderful life “with fame and fortune.”
    Doris grew up in a musical home in Cincinnati, Ohio. Her father was a church organist and a music teacher, and her brother followed in his footsteps. But Doris was only interested in dancing.
    She began dancing lessons at age five. When she was 12, Doris and her dancing partner entered a competition and won five hundred dollars. A handsome sum in 1936!
    With the award money, their mothers took the pair to Hollywood where the dancers found some success. So they went back to Cincinnati to pack, before moving to Hollywood for good.
    It was on the way to a farewell party for Doris that the terrible train accident happened.
    Doris’ lifetime dream had been to become a dancer and now the doctors thought she would never walk again. Fortunately, they were wrong. But they were right when they said she would never dance again.
    Amazingly, Doris took the terrible blow with resilience and a positive attitude. She began taking voice lessons and reinvented herself as a singer.
    By age 16, she was singing in a night club and the owner had changed her name to Doris Day after her signature song—“Day after Day.” Soon she was traveling with Bob Crosby's band. And by the time she was 21, her recording of “Sentimental Journey” had sold a million copies.
    This was only one of the many times the amazing Doris Day had to reinvent herself. Next week we'll talk about how Doris reinvented herself after retirement.
    Copyright 2007 Marie Snider
    Marie Snider is an award-winning healthcare writer and syndicated columnist. Write Marie Snider at or visit her website at

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