Lifelong friend, business partner remembers Hollywood legend Doris Day

CARMEL-BY-THE-SEA, Calif. (KGO) -- Doris Day may have been a Hollywood legend of another era, but walk into the beautiful Cypress Inn in Carmel-By-The-Sea and you will feel like she is alive and well.

Day's movie posters grace the wall, you can order a Doris Day chicken salad or a Doris Day cocktail, her music blasts from the speakers, her movies are playing in an endless loop on the TV.

It's no wonder fans flocked the historic hotel early Monday morning, leaving flowers, browsing the memorabilia and yes, having a drink to toast her memory.

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"She was such a feminist icon, she was the first to portray a single woman with kids on TV," Vanja Thompson told us.

Thompson has written about Doris Day for a local magazine and takes it upon herself to school the hotel bartenders on Doris Day trivia.

"I always thought she brought an unusual kind of vitality to the screen," said Gordon Zuckerman, another fan.

Jo Costanzo came in with her dogs, the Cypress Inn being an animal-friendly establishment, a nod to Doris Day's passion for the protection of animals.

"We came to have our first Doris Day cocktail and it was delicious," she said.

We were just finished talking to fans when we spotted a man dressed to the nines. It was Dennis LeVett, who is the co-owner of Cypress Inn, his business partner-- Doris Day.

It was 34 years ago, she asked to buy half of it and he couldn't refuse.

"We all watched Doris Day movies and the dream of I swear to god of every boy was I want to meet a girl like that someday," he said.

His dream came true. They have celebrated birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries. When he greeted her on the occasion of their 34th year as partners, her wit was still lightning quick.

"Dennis I don't think I've ever been with one man for 34 years and that was Doris Day, the sort of humour that just went like that," he said.

That signature humor lit up the screens-- with movies like Pillow Talk and Calamity Jane. She starred next to the era's biggest leading men from Rock Hudson to James Stewart, taking home a string of awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Doris Day was groundbreaking not just in the movies, she started the Doris Day Animal Foundation in 1978. She's considered an icon in the fight for animal protection, especially in California where she was instrumental in creating better laws for animal shelters.

For LeVett, he only hopes the everyone will remember her, as he will.

"As one of the most beautiful, one of the most exciting, one of the absolute most loved, girl next door, as one of the greatest actresses."
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