A Hoosier girl will share the "sentimental journey" which led her to meeting and befriending a Hollywood icon with the city of Brazil this month.
Mary Ann Barothy, Indianapolis, will visit the Brazil Public Library Thursday, May 20, to discuss her book, "Day At A Time: An Indiana Girl's Sentimental Journey to Doris Day's Hollywood and Beyond," which chronicles her life as an admirer, employee, friend and roommate of iconic singer and actress Doris Day.
Barothy, who said she became a Day fan at the age of 10 after viewing the film, "Calamity Jane," was working for the Indianapolis News in 1967 when a friend she made in the Doris Day fan club informed her she could introduce her to the star if she came to Hollywood. A star-struck Barothy remembered the star as being very courteous toward her.
In 1968, Barothy moved to Los Angeles and landed a job with Cintel, a company which manufactured material for the Air Force during the Vietnam War. She soon found herself in a pickle, being forced to go on indefinite leave after breaking her arms and legs in a car accident.
Though the future seemed desolate, things quickly picked up for Barothy. She had stayed in contact with Day, who paid her several visits as she was re-cooperating from the injuries she sustained in the accident.
With her immediate employment future in jeopardy, Barothy was greeted with very exciting news when Day told her she "needed a good secretary," and told her she could land the position barring she pass a training seminar. She did, and even though she was eventually offered her old job back at Cintel, she joined Day's staff and never looked back.
"My accident really proved to be a blessing," Barothy said, recounting the events which led her to gaining employment with her idol. "It just shows you never know where good things are going to come from."
Barothy entered Day's professional realm during production of her television series, "The Doris Day Show," which ran from 1968-73. During her time as Day's personal secretary, Barothy actually lived in the star's house, so as to be readily available for any demands she may have. Barothy is the only non-family member of Day to ever have resided within the walls of her home.
While various reports painted Day as a difficult woman to work with, Barothy paints a contrasting portrait.
"People always asked me if she was as nice as she seemed in her movies and I always told them she was nicer," Barothy said. "(Day) was like a big sister and mentor to me, and it was fun working with her."
Barothy was also there for the beginning of Day's adventures as an animal rights activist, work she has continued to this day. Day was even awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom for her work by President George W. Bush in 2004. Barothy said the house was always full of animals, some of which the star owned, and several others for which she simply provided shelter for.
"All she wants to be remembered for is her work with animal welfare," Barothy said. "She is very low profile, and this work was much more important to her (than acting and singing)."
Barothy worked for Day for four years, living with her for two, and has remained in touch with her up to this day. In 1975, she penned a manuscript chronicling how she came in contact with her idol, but it received very little interest from publishers.
Having buried the manuscript away, it came to live again a few years ago, when biographer David Kaufman, who was working on an epic bio of Day, was seeking information from people who had worked with the reclusive star and contacted Barothy.
The advice proved to be sound, and "Day At A Time," finally received a proper release in 2007. Since then, the author has been traveling around the country doing various promotional gigs. The events generally range from Q&A sessions about the book to the presentation of various memorabilia from her days at the Day estate, ranging from personal photos, to-do lists Day made for her, to the hat Day was wearing the day the two met.
Barothy says another reason she thinks her book will captivate people is that it paints a simpler time in Hollywood. She recounts times when she and Day rode bikes around the streets of Los Angeles, which she says would be impossible to do today without being hounded by the paparazzi.
When she's not traveling, Barothy works as the Development Assistant for Little Sisters of the Poor, a religious institution out of Indianapolis, which provides shelter for the elderly poor residents of the city.
She also can be heard paying further tribute to her role model with her work with the Internet radio station frednetradio.com, an oldies station which plays four Doris Day songs per hour.
Barothy has recently created several vignettes for the station, which include passages from her book. She said the site not only serves as a great tribute to Day, but also helps her work reach a younger audience.
Barothy said the primary reason for writing and promoting her book was so people would realize they can accomplish their life goals. Recently, she found a diary from when she was 14, in which she had written her ambition was "to be a professional secretary for a movie star."
"I wish I had written, 'I want to win the lottery,'" she joked.
Barothy said she hoped people who heard her story would feel inspired and realize there are people in the world who accomplish their goals and dreams.
"I just wanted to share that dreams come true," Barothy said. "The idea that I got to meet my hero and that I'm able to tell my story all over the world is exciting. This whole experience is just fun."
Barothy will be speaking at the Brazil Public Library, 204 N. Walnut St., Brazil, at 6 p.m., Thursday, May 20. Admission is free and the event is open to the public.