b. 10 April 1896, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, d. 2 May 1971, London, England. Although Day made her theatrical debut in America it was in England that she became a star. In 1919 she played the title role in the Broadway production of Irene and was hailed by critics and audiences alike. The hit song from the show, sung by Irene, was Harry Tierney and Joseph McCarthy’s ‘Alice Blue Gown’ and the song and Day’s performance of it helped the show to a long and profitable run. The following year, she went to London for the show’s West End production and her success there surpassed even the considerable acclaim she had enjoyed on Broadway. She decided to make England her home and appeared in several popular shows, gaining even more plaudits. She sang the title role in Rudolph Friml, Otto Harbach and Oscar Hammerstein II’s Rose Marie (1925), starred as Margot in Sigmund Romberg and Hammerstein’s The Desert Song (1927) and was Magnolia in Jerome Kern and Hammerstein’s Show Boat (1928). During this time of great success, Day was often referred to as ‘the Queen of the Drury Lane Theatre’ and her successes continued in the next decade with a highly acclaimed performance in the title role of Rio Rita (1930). Her last West End appearance of note was in Sunny River (1943), after which she retired. It was not her last performance, however, and in 1962 she agreed to play the role of Mrs. Sweeney in Noël Coward’s Sail Away.
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