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Doris Day, the sunny blond actress and singer, died Monday

Doris Day, the sunny blond actress and singer whose frothy comedic roles opposite the likes of Rock Hudson and Cary Grant made her one of Hollywood’s biggest stars in the 1950s and ’60s and a symbol of wholesome American womanhood, died Monday. She was 97.

In more recent years, Day had been an animal rights advocate. Her Doris Day Animal Foundation confirmed her death at her Carmel Valley, California, home.

Day “had been in excellent physical health for her age” but had recently contracted pneumonia, the foundation said in a statement. She requested that no memorial services be held and no grave marker erected.

With her lilting contralto, fresh-faced beauty and glowing smile, Day was a top box-office draw and recording artist known for comedies such as “Pillow Talk” and “That Touch of Mink,” as well as songs like “Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera)” from the Alfred Hitchcock film “The Man Who Knew Too Much.”

Over time, she became more than a name above the title. Right down to her cheerful, alliterative stage name, she stood for the era’s ideal of innocence and G-rated love, a parallel world to her contemporary Marilyn Monroe. The running joke, attributed to both Groucho Marx and actor-composer Oscar Levant, was that they had known Day “before she was a virgin.”

Day herself was no Doris Day, by choice and by hard luck. Her 1976 tell-all book, “Doris Day: Her Own Story,” chronicled her money troubles and three failed marriages.

“I have the unfortunate reputation of being Miss Goody Two-Shoes, America’s Virgin, and all that, so I’m afraid it’s going to shock some people for me to say this, but I staunchly believe no two people should get married until they have lived together,” she wrote.

A.E. Hotchner, who collaborated with Day on her memoir, said she had a “sweet and sour” existence and never let her personal difficulties “change her attitude toward people.”

“She was such a positive, absolutely enchanting woman,” he told The Associated Press on Monday. “And she was so loved.”

Day received a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2004. Although mostly retired from show business since the 1980s, she still had enough of a following that a 2011 collection of previously unreleased songs, “My Heart,” hit the top 10 in the United Kingdom. The same year, she received a lifetime achievement honor from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association.

The Humane Society of the United States, of which The Doris Day Animal League is an affiliate, praised Day as a pioneer in animal protection.

In 1987, Day “founded one of the first national animal protection organizations dedicated to legislative remedies for the worst animal abuse,” said the league’s executive director, Sara Amundson. Her foresight “led to dozens of bills, final rules and policies on the federal level,” which helped end abusive videos, protect chimpanzees from invasive research and regulate the online sale of puppies.

“She is an icon in the animal protection world and will be sorely missed for her singular advocacy,” Amundson said.

Paul McCartney, a friend, called Day “a true star in more ways than one.”

“Visiting her in her Californian home was like going to an animal sanctuary where her many dogs were taken care of in splendid style,” he said in a statement. “She had a heart of gold and was a very funny lady who I shared many laughs with.”

He cited films like “Calamity Jane,” ″Move Over, Darling” and others and said he would “always remember her twinkling smile and infectious laugh.”

Day “was kind and decent, onscreen and off; she maintained her friendship with Rock Hudson after his AIDS diagnosis, in a climate of fear and abandonment — one of his last appearances was on a TV show with her,” playwright Paul Rudnick tweeted.

Born to a music teacher and a housewife in Cincinnati, Day dreamed of a dance career but at age 12 broke her leg badly when a car in which she was traveling was hit by a train. Listening to the radio while recuperating, she began singing along with Ella Fitzgerald, “trying to catch the subtle ways she shaded her voice, the casual yet clean way she sang the words.”

Day began singing at a Cincinnati radio station, then a nightclub, then in New York. A bandleader changed her name to Day after the song “Day after Day” to fit it on a marquee.

A marriage at 17 to trombonist Al Jorden ended when, she said, he beat her when she was eight months’ pregnant. She gave birth to her son, Terry, in early 1942. Her second marriage also was short-lived. She returned to Les Brown’s band after the first marriage broke up.

Her Hollywood career began after she sang at a Hollywood party in 1947. After early stardom as a band singer and a stint at Warner Bros., Day won the best notices of her career with 1955′s “Love Me or Leave Me,” the story of songstress Ruth Etting and her gangster husband-manager. She followed with “The Man Who Knew Too Much,” starring with James Stewart as an innocent couple ensnared in an international assassination plot. She sang “Que Sera, Sera” just as the story reached its climax.

But she found her greatest success in slick, stylish sex comedies, beginning with 1959′s Oscar-nominated “Pillow Talk,” in which she and Hudson played two New Yorkers who shared a telephone party line. It was the first of three films with Hudson.

In “That Touch of Mink,” she turned back advances from Grant and in “The Thrill of It All” played a housewife who gains fame as a TV pitchwoman to the chagrin of obstetrician husband James Garner.

The nation’s theater owners voted her the top moneymaking star in 1960, 1962, 1963 and 1964.

Her first singing hit was the 1945 smash “Sentimental Journey,” when she was barely in her 20s. Among the other songs she made famous were “Everybody Loves a Lover,” ″Secret Love,” and “It’s Magic,” a song from her first film, “Romance on the High Seas.”

Critic Gary Giddins called her “the coolest and sexiest female singer of slow-ballads in movie history.”

Day was cast in “Romance on the High Seas” after Judy Garland and Betty Hutton bowed out. Warner Bros. cashed in on its new star with a series of musicals, including “My Dream Is Yours,” ″Tea for Two” and “Lullaby of Broadway.” Her dramas included “Young Man with a Horn” and “Storm Warning.”

Her last film was “With Six You Get Eggroll,” a 1968 comedy about a widow and a widower who blend families.

In the 1960s, Day discovered that failed investments by her third husband, Martin Melcher, left her deeply in debt. She eventually won a multimillion-dollar judgment against their lawyer.

With movies trending toward more explicit sex, she turned to television to recoup her finances. “The Doris Day Show” was a moderate success in its 1968-1973 run on CBS.

Day had married Melcher in 1951. He became her manager, and her son took his name. In most of the films following “Pillow Talk,” Melcher was listed as co-producer. He died in 1969.

In her autobiography, Day recalled her son telling her the $20 million she had earned had vanished and she owed around $450,000, mostly for taxes. Terry Melcher, who died in 2004, became a songwriter and record producer, working with such stars as the Beach Boys. He was also famous for an aspiring musician he turned down, Charles Manson. When Manson and his followers embarked on their murderous rampage in 1969, they headed for a house once owned by Melcher and instead came upon actress Sharon Tate and some visitors, all of whom were killed.

Day married a fourth time at age 52, to businessman Barry Comden in 1976.

Her wholesome image was referenced in the song “I’m Sandra Dee” in the 1971 musical “Grease,” which included the lyrics: “Watch it, hey, I’m Doris Day/ I was not brought up that way/ Won’t come across/ Even Rock Hudson lost/ His heart to Doris Day.”


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Report: Wisconsin Republicans fell behind on payments

MADISON — An internal review of the Wisconsin Republican Party after the 2018 election found that it missed payments to insurers, racked up nearly $600 a month in interest on a maxed out credit card and was “recklessly reliant” on consultants who made more than $500,000, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Monday.

The state party plans to release the report ahead of its annual convention that begins Friday, but the Journal Sentinel and the conservative MacIver Institute obtained portions of a draft before its release.

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, who along with other top Republicans led the review following the defeat of former Gov. Scott Walker and every other Republican who ran for statewide office, plans to discuss the report and its findings at the convention Saturday.

Johnson told The Associated Press last week that the review showed the party relied too heavily on consultants at the detriment of grassroots supporters. Johnson said he wants to discuss the report’s findings and how the party plans to rebuild itself from the bottom up with activists at the convention.

“We really do need to focus on a grassroots effort,” Johnson said. The state party also needs to do more to support county parties and help identify, recruit and train volunteers and candidates, he said.

The draft report concluded that the state party was “essentially outsourced” to Walker’s campaign and was “a top-down bureaucracy, disconnected from local activists (and) recklessly reliant on outside consultants,” the Journal Sentinel reported.

That approach prevented the party from developing its young staff and future leaders, the report said.

Consultants during the 2018 campaign “had few, if any, discernible job responsibilities or expectations of deliverables,” the report said.

The report did not name the consultants and party officials declined to identify them, the Journal Sentinel reported.

“The most immediate concerns facing the RPW are the cash flow problems and the debt we face,” the report said.

The party’s most recent campaign finance report showed a debt of about $142,000 at the end of March. Party spokesman Charles Nichols said it had reached more than $350,000 after last year’s election.

In April, Wisconsin billionaire and GOP mega-donor Diane Hendricks gave the Republican Party $500,000, according to campaign finance records.

While the party is getting on top of its financial issues, it “rather startlingly, continues to learn of additional and ongoing obligations,” the report said.

The party pumped more than $4 million toward Walker’s unsuccessful re-election bid last year and that was too much for the party to bear, the report found. When cash flow problems began, the credit card was used to supplement spending which resulted in a balance that was over the limit and the interest charges that went unpaid for months, the report said.


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STD reports continue rising in region

Cases of sexually transmitted diseases — especially in young people — continue to rise in the region, according to local health department and university statistics.

By the end of last month, Eau Claire County has had 135 reported cases of chlamydia and 53 reported cases of gonorrhea. And of those cases of chlamydia and gonorrhea, 79 and 13, respectively, occurred in people between the ages of 18 and 24.

“One in two sexually active young people will get an STD by age 25, and a lot of times when they have an STD they don’t know they have one because they don’t have symptoms,” Janel Hebert, a public health nurse with the Eau Claire City-County Health Department, said, referencing statistics from the American Sexual Health Association. “You see that in local data too.”

Those figures are the continuation of a general uptick in STDs in Eau Claire County. Last year, the number of reported cases of gonorrhea more than doubled in the county from 64 cases in 2017 to 169. Chlamydia reports in Eau Claire also rose from 504 cases in 2017 to 513 last year.

It’s hard to say whether the growth in cases is due to an increase in unsafe sex or more frequent STD testing, Hebert said. Still, Hebert said the health department continues to focus its efforts on increasing awareness of the importance of getting tested and using barrier contraceptives, like internal or external condoms which can prevent both pregnancy and STDs.

“I think it’s important to have conversations about it and have accessibility to condoms,” Hebert said. “Maybe people who aren’t using condoms think ‘well, it’s not going to happen to me’ ... The best thing to do is to go in and get tested.”

Laura Chellman, director of Student Health Service at UW-Eau Claire, said both testing and incidence rates of STDs have risen on campus in general.

While reports of gonorrhea stayed virtually level in the last few years, UW-Eau Claire Student Health Service records show reported cases of chlamydia grew from 37 in 2017 to 51 last year.

In the first four months of this year, records show 21 reports of chlamydia.

At UW-Stout, Student Health Services’ reported cases of gonorrhea increased from 2 cases in 2017 to 10 cases last year. Meanwhile, cases of chlamydia actually decreased last year with 46 reported cases in comparison to 62 in 2017. But in the first four months of this year, Student Health Service records already show 23 confirmed cases of chlamydia.

And according to the 2018 National College Health Assessment — which is administered every three years via survey — 2.6% of UW-Eau Claire and UW-Stout students reported being diagnosed or treated by a professional for chlamydia in the last 12 months.

That’s slightly higher than the average across all UW System schools with 1.9% of the 5,809 responding students reporting being treated for chlamydia.

Chellman noted not all students utilize the on-campus clinic, and National College Health Assessment statistics only represent about 25% of UW-Eau Claire’s student population.

“We have a snapshot,” Chellman said. “I would say (our data) mirrors the county, probably the state and nation as well.”

In UW-Stout’s case, the assessment represents about 15% of the student population. In addition, incidence rates only reflect the students who take the time and have the money to get tested on campus, said Janice Lawrence-Ramaeker, director of student health at UW-Stout.

County and university health officials aren’t the only ones concerned about rising STD rates.

When Paige Sprink, a junior at UW-Eau Claire, heard recent national and local STD statistics during a Student Senate meeting — particularly the National College Health Assessment statistic that just 50.4% of UW-Eau Claire students reported using a condom or other protective barrier “mostly” or “always” when having vaginal intercourse in the last 30 days — she knew she wanted to do something about it.

So she began brainstorming with fellow student and member of the Student Senate Hannah Jacobson, and they formulated a plan to use their service learning projects to work to advocate for increased access to barrier contraceptive methods on campus.

Though condoms are available in residence halls and a couple of other locations on campus, Sprink said she believes the university can do better.

Last month, Sprink and Jacobson passed a resolution in the Student Senate in support of increasing accessibility to safe sex devices.

“This is a statement to provide to the university to say we’re concerned about rising STD rates and that making these devices more accessible is the way we want to be moving as a student body,” Sprink said. “We’re not trying to shove (safe sex supplies) down people’s throats, but students who do want them and need them should have access. ... It’s about keeping the whole campus safe and healthy.”

Though the resolution doesn’t allocate more money to providing safe sex devices — currently, Student Senate allocates about $2,500 of its budget for free safe sex supplies — it’s Sprink’s hope that it will start a conversation in the future.

Katie Wilson, a health educator with UW-Eau Claire’s Student Health Service who has been working with Sprink and Jacobson on the project, said in the fall they will begin researching dispensers that could hold safe sex supplies, how they’d be paid for and where they’d be located.

While installing dispensers would have an up-front cost, Wilson said in the long run they wouldn’t cost Student Senate more because they’re already purchasing safe sex supplies.

“(The resolution) is important because it tells the university administration that this is something the students want,” Wilson said. “It is controversial — condoms and contraceptives are controversial. There are some people who think that people at this age shouldn’t be having sex, so they say we should normalize it or let’s not provide the tools to stay safer while they’re doing it.”

But, Wilson said climbing STD rates is a public health issue.

“In some way, shape or form this benefits everyone, even if you’re not using them yourself,” Wilson said. “Someday, you’ll probably be sexually active, so fewer sexually transmitted infections in the community is a good thing.”