Ouachita Baptist University’s Department of Theatre Arts will host “Dear Miss Day” and “Hollywood’s Golden Age” exhibits Jan. 30 through Feb. 25 featuring curated memorabilia from mid-20th century Hollywood. The two-part exhibit will be displayed in Moses-Provine Hall’s Rosemary Gossett Adams Gallery and is free and open to the public.
Cherry Davis, a Louisiana native and movie enthusiast, recently donated the collection of Doris Day and Hollywood memorabilia to Ouachita’s Department of Theatre Arts, in honor of her mother, a 1933 Ouachita graduate.
“I love old movies, I love Doris Day and I love my mother. Since my mother, Ruth Shafer Means, was such an inspiration and loved Ouachita, I wanted to honor both her and the university in a lasting way,” Davis said.
Callie Anna Dunlap, a sophomore history major from Little Rock, Ark., with the assistance of Adam Wheat, Ouachita fine arts administrator, have been busy organizing and cataloging the items over the last few months.
As a fan of Old Hollywood and with a goal of working professionally in the museum setting, Dunlap was a natural fit to work on the exhibit. This project serves as her directed study and the subject of her thesis in Ouachita’s Carl Goodson Honors Program.
“I’ve learned how to be organized, and I’ve learned so much about Doris Day’s life,” Dunlap said. “I knew she was an actress and I have seen some of her movies but just seeing the extent of her career is amazing. She did so much work even after she stopped filming.”
Doris Day is an American actress and singer most popular around the 1950s and 1960s. She has starred in numerous movies including “Tea for Two,” “Calamity Jane,” “The Pajama Game” and “Pillow Talk.” She also had a TV series titled “The Doris Day Show.” Along with acting and singing, Day is known for her work on behalf of animal welfare. She is a founding member of Actors and Others for Animals, the Doris Day Pet Foundation, later named Doris Day Animal Foundation, and the Doris Day Animal League, a lobbying organization for animals that merged with the Humane Society of the United States.
“Doris Day’s work and that time in Hollywood holds a sort of classic appeal for people, whether they lived through it or just re-experienced it through film and music,” said Eric Phillips, professor of theatre arts. “The diversity of the collection shows the passion for Doris Day and that time period: costumes, set scripts, music, film, press packs, memorabilia, scrapbooks, magazines and on and on. It’s impressive.”
The bottom floor of the exhibit will feature a timeline of Doris Day through movie posters, still frames, merchandise, costumes she wore and even some personal letters and documents. The top floor will feature old Hollywood memorabilia including movie budgets, scripts and call sheets. Also on display will be unique items such as a ticket and program to the 32nd Academy Awards, a Shirley Temple paper doll, a shirt belonging to Cary Grant and autographs from actors from that era, such as Clark Gable and Irene Dunn.
Many of these items – and more unable to be displayed – are available for purchase. They may be picked up after the exhibit closes in February.
“It’s very exciting that Mrs. Davis was willing to give such a broad and rich collection to us. I think that it is an incredible learning experience for both those who are involved with putting it together and those who are able to come enjoy actual pieces of history,” Wheat said. “Getting to share with the younger generation the wonderful Doris Day and the work and art she and her contemporaries created is a very powerful and cross-generational moment for Ouachita. For our students and visitors, seeing and touching this era will be really unique.”
The exhibit can be viewed during regular Adams Gallery hours, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information, contact OBU’s School of Fine Arts at (870) 245-5129.
By Sarah Davis // Photos feature sneak peeks of the exhibit in its installation phase.
January 19, 2017