Late Hollywood Legend Doris Day Was ‘Manipulated,’ Says Grieving Family Member

By Richard Szabo
Richard Szabo
Richard Szabo
Richard Szabo is an award-winning journalist with more than 12 years' experience in news writing at mainstream and niche media organizations. He has a specialty in business, tourism, hospitality, and healthcare reporting.
June 10, 2019 Updated: June 10, 2019

Doris Day’s former manager has been accused of controlling her, a family member claimed on May 14.

Former talent manager Bob Bashara, 61, has been accused of manipulating his late client Doris Day and preventing the woman from seeing her grandchild Ryan Melcher due to a split in the family, Melcher said on Facebook.

Melcher, 37, claims Bashara stopped him from meeting his grandmother for dinner and has not been allowed to see her for “quite some time.” This was despite Day personally inviting him to dinner a few years ago.

“Her new business manager, a former fan, intervened and asked me to meet him at the family owned Cypress Inn here in Carmel, California,” Melcher said. “[Bashara asked,] ‘Why do you want to see Doris?’ I was shocked not only at the question but also that it was coming from someone who was a stranger and outsider.”

Melcher responded that he wanted to see Day because she was his grandmother. However, Bashara explained that would not be possible.

“He replied, ‘I’m afraid you aren’t going to be able to see your grandmother,’ citing the divorce between my parents as his excuse,” Melcher said. “The dinner between my grandma and I never took place. Any and all communication was cut off from that point on and I was left bewildered.”

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It’s been an emotional 24 plus hours since learning of my grandmother’s passing. I want to first say thank you to all our extended family, friends, community members and fans from around the world that have reached out offering their condolences, support and sharing their favorite memories. Your words have meant more than I could ever adequately articulate. • A cultural icon, I’m proud of how my grandma built her career in television, film and as a recording artist. Later in life it was her work as a philanthropist and advocate for animal rights that connected her with so many people around the world, and that’s a powerful legacy to leave behind. • She encouraged my father Terry to explore music and it led to him to doing several albums on her as well as others with the Byrds, the Mama’s and the Papa’s and the Beach Boys. And although she was an incredibly private person, in my formative years she spent a lot of time and energy with our family, ensuring I felt loved. I would go to her home every day after school and those are memories I will always cherish. She instilled a drive and confidence that I will carry with me the rest of my life. • However, with so many stories reporting on her illustrious life and career, I wanted to share the following in the hopes that other families who have / or who are currently going through what we have will use this as a wake-up call to re-connect, communicate and tell those around them what they mean to them before it’s too late. • You see, I received the news of my grandmother’s passing like many of you — I awoke and read the news in a social media feed Monday morning. • Read Entire Statement in link in Bio. #dorisday #ryanmelcher

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Melcher wanted to visit Day at home but was unable due to 24-hour security guards who were allegedly instructed by Bashara not to grant entrance.

“Looking back, I should have said more; should have drove to her home and not let a stranger come between us,” Melcher said. “She had been so happy to talk to me and we were both excited for our upcoming dinner together just a week before and this man was clearly manipulating the situation.”

Day passed away on May 13 at the age of 97. She is better known for her acting in 1950s and 60s films, such as romance musical “Pillow Talk” (1959) and comedy “That Touch of Mink” (1962). She later featured in the sitcom “The Doris Day Show” (1968-1973) for CBS.

Day outlived her son, Terry, who died from skin cancer back in November 2004.

Melcher claims Bashara also dismissed all the long serving board members from the Doris Day Animal Foundation and replaced them with his own family members.

“It seemed I was not the only one who had been cut out,” Melcher said.

He tried to speak out about this but stopped because he feared it would cause distress for Day, who had become quite elderly.

“Her mind had already begun slipping so I feared my outreach would only cause more stress due to the new folks surrounding her,” Melcher said. “I could not bring myself to continue to fight an uphill battle at the expense of her well being or my family’s.”

He also revealed he was prevented from visiting his father, Terry, even when he was very ill and dying. Melcher claims his stepmother tried to have him arrested when he went to say goodbye to his father.

“His wife blocked me from him, again using my involvement in my parent’s divorce as a tool to divide us,” Melcher said. “We later learned this woman had my father change his will, became executor of his estate, and took control of our community property while preventing me from any contact with my own father … this has been a running theme in our family and a pattern I want to break.”

Regardless of the events he said he would still love his father and grandmother and the time they spent together.

“I will forever be grateful for the time I had with both my father and my grandmother,” Melcher said. “When I was younger our family was so close and I was so fortunate to have such special people raise me. It’s taught me to live in the moment and not leave things unsaid.”

“It’s a hard truth, however it is my truth and one I hope others can learn from,” he added.

The County of Los Angeles’ Board of Supervisors issued a co-signed certificate, extending their “deepest sympathy” to Melcher and Day in whose “memory all members adjourned in tribute and reverence at its meeting of May 14.”

Richard Szabo
Richard Szabo
Richard Szabo is an award-winning journalist with more than 12 years' experience in news writing at mainstream and niche media organizations. He has a specialty in business, tourism, hospitality, and healthcare reporting.